Portable Automated Deck Plate Straightener (2005-378)
- Northrop Grumman Ship Systems
- Native American Technologies
- Bollinger Shipyards
January 2005 - August 2006
NSRP ASE Investment: $566K
Industry Investment: $566K
Develop a portable, automated device that uses induction heating and a unique computer program to straighten deck plates distorted during the ship erection process. Initial testing found that the automated device cut the time required by the traditional manual straightening process almost in half.
During the ship erection process, deck plates are often distorted due to welding, fitting practices, penetrations, inserts, and rolled instresses at the mill. The Navy has specific limits on the amount of distortion allowable on its ships under construction; additional corrective action is often required to bring steel plate distortion within those limits. Currently, a manual straightening process involving a flame torch, a water jet and a skilled craftsman is used to remove distortion, but this is a costly process that consumes resources and can affect construction schedules. The objective of this project was to build a portable automated plate straightener that can be taken onto a ship structure and straighten distorted deck plating in less time and with fewer workers. The specific technical objectives for the project were:
- Process Speed – reduce the time and cost of the plate straightening process by half.
- Measurement – develop an automated and accurate method to measure the plate, before, during, and after straightening.
- Heat Source Positioning/Control – precisely control the positioning and energy applied by the heat source
- Survivability – develop a system that is nearly autonomous, rugged, and acceptable to operators.
- Portability – develop a system that is man-portable.
- Communications – develop a system that will communicate the measurement data electronically. The system will generate digital electronic data before and after the straightening operation.
The project team designed and built a prototype device and demonstrated that the system can scan and measure distortion, select/develop a plan that will avoid obstructions and plan a heat pattern. Optimization of the neural network and straightening strategy was accomplished by training N.A. Tech personnel in straightening procedures currently used in the yards, along with hands-on shipyard trials with shipyard workers as operators. The prototype continues to be used at NG Ship Systems in production work on Navy ships and Coast Guard cutters. A comparison of the manual and automated methods indicated that the latter is at least 1.8 times faster. This could translate into approximately $70K/ year savings for each shift the system is used. Other benefits include improved working conditions through heat reduction in closed spaces during the summer, the ability to complete the straightening process before foundations and combing have been installed, and less paint damage to the opposite side of the plate being straightened. The system, now known as Portable Automated Straightener-Deck or PAS-D, is now commercially available through N.A. Tech. If interested, contact Dr. Jerry Jones at Jonesje1@aol.com or (303) 279-7942.
Final Report – Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited
Point of Contact:
Garth Turner, Ingalls Shipbuilding