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Navy Metalworking Center to Improve On-Hull VCS Pipe Assembly Installation Methods
On-hull pipe process improvements will reduce man-hours associated with pipe assembly and installation by 20 percent on VCS. (General Dynamics Electric Boat photo)
The Navy Metalworking Center is executing a Navy ManTech project to reduce man-hours needed for pipe assembly and installation on Virginia Class Submarines (VCS). This project is building on the success of two previous projects* that improved VCS pipe shop assembly processes for small and large diameter pipes. The current project involves increasing installation efficiencies of on-hull pipe assembly methods by using improved tooling for pipe fit-up, fixturing and positioning, and automated welding/joining processes.
The application of improved pipe assembly installation methods and automated technologies in VCS Modular Outfitting Facilities will reduce the amount of labor required for on-hull manual pipe assembly installations and associated welding processes by a minimum of 20 percent per hull. The potential cost savings per hull is $600,000.
Viable tooling concepts will be assessed and down-selected for prototype development based on projected process improvements, physical suitability, reliability and sustainable implementation. Prototypes will be tested at the VCS Modular Outfitting Facilities to assess and validate the proposed improvements based on increased efficiencies and reduction in labor hours. Prototype tooling may be provided to the shipyards at the conclusion of the project.
The pipe assembly preparation and installation process improvements are expected to be implemented into the VCS Modular Outfitting Facilities for use in the construction of SSN 788 in the fall of 2013. Results will be implemented at both General Dynamics Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding. In addition to the two shipyards, the VCS Program Office, Navy Metalworking Center and Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division are also contributing to this project.