Virtual Reality (VR) and cobot technologies have been successfully utilised during the prototype phase of construction of nine Hunter class frigates at the Osborne naval shipyard in Adelaide.
BAE Systems trialled the advanced technologies in simple assembly and inspection work following trials at the Line Zero facility at Adelaide’s Tonsley innovation precinct which is a joint venture with Flinders University.
The facility enables BAE Systems employees and Flinders researchers to test and trial innovative technologies in a safe and controlled environment, before adapting them to the Osborne yard.
BAE Systems Australia – Maritime’s Sharon Wilson said Line Zero fostered collaboration with academics, researchers and industry to solve real-world shipyard problems in a safe, controlled and intelligent environment.
Wilson said: “I can’t overstate the importance of collaboration – it’s vital we continue working with industry and education organisations to continue driving industrial capability across the supply chain.
“If these latest trials demonstrate augmented reality technology and cobots have a role to play in the shipyard environment, it’s yet another step towards a paperless, digital shipyard.”
Recent trials have focused on digital technologies and how they can support human performance in assembly and inspection.
Trials involved wearing a ‘HoloLens’ – an augmented reality headset – to support assembly, and a cobot with optical recognition camera for visual inspection tasks. Cobots are flexible robots capable of working safely with humans.
At the shipyard, participants navigated the HoloLens’ virtual instructions to successfully assemble electric cabinets, and then activated the cobot to perform inspections.
BAE Systems Australia – Maritime, operations director, Jim Cuthill said the company was ‘doing shipbuilding in a way that has never been done before’, aimed at achieving higher productivity, quality and safety outcomes as well as savings on cost, schedule and rework.
Flinders University Pro Vice-Chancellor of Research Innovation, Professor John Spoehr said: “Conducting research in real-world production environments, such as the Osborne shipyard, is essential in determining how best to support new technology adoption for advanced manufacturing.
“Augmented reality headsets, initially tested at Line Zero – Pilot Factory of the Future, offer mobility, hands-free operation and real time data-transmission which holds the potential to support the timely completion of work to a high standard.
“We can also explore the limits of acceptable workloads which better inform the rate and complexity of new technologies in the supply chain.”
Picture: BAE Systems Australia
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