Tele-Welding- Remote Operation of Shipyard Welding (and other) Equipment (2019-375-001)
- Robert Technologies of Tennessee, LLC.
- Visible Welding
- HII- Newport News Shipbuilding
- General Dynamics- Electric Boat Shipyard
April 2019- March 2021
NSRP ASE Investment: $807K
Industry Investment: $809K
The objectives of this project are to:
- To create and integrate a system that allows workers to operate welding equipment from a remote location
- To design the necessary software, hardware, and interfaces that provide a robust, easy-to-use system with reliability and serviceability compatible with the shipyard environment
- To provide superior vision through the use of technologies, such as Ultra Dynamic Range camera equipment – allowing a better view of the work than the traditional filtering welding helmet view plate, ensuring improved quality of workmanship
- To provide sufficient training to personnel and management so that implementation may rapidly proceed.
- To work with the Program Office and Technical Warrant Holders to ensure that the project will have a clear path going forward
This project team proposes to provide an integrated system allowing a worker to operate the welding process from a remote location yet have full control of the process at all times. While “remote welding” is the initial intended implementation, other processes of interest can be similarly operated using the software and hardware interfaces developed in the project. Further, the goal of the project is to be “agnostic” to the kind of equipment to be used, not limited to traditional robot arms and fixed automation, but flexible for the kinds of unstructured environments where the demand has been shown to be greatest, with the least effort for set-ups, staging, tracks, or limited areas of functionality.
KEY DELIVERABLES / BENEFITS
Tools that allow a welder to perform welds from a distance can solve many worker and workplace challenges in government and industry.
- Removal of personnel from the direct zone of welding arc and fumes
- Empowering the entire spectrum of personnel who want to work but have physical limitations that otherwise prevent them from being fully functional partners in production.
- Experienced welders can stay in the work force five or more years longer than today; disabled workers can re-enter the workforce sooner because certain disabilities will not impair ability to tele-weld.
Other general benefits to the shipbuilding industry include:
- Decreased need for hand-eye coordination, leading to decreased training time due to the remotely operated equipment, damping out erratic human motions and due to better view of the welding process provided by specialty cameras
- Increased operator productivity or arc-on time by virtue of lower fatigue and shorter rest and other breaks
- Remote operation can also be extended to other operations – especially in “dark, dirty, and dangerous” areas, such as tanks and inner bottoms, where there is the potential for injury
- Reduction of knee and back damage when welding items to deck plates
- In addition to welding, an obvious inclusion of flame and plasma cutting, gouging, grinding, cleaning, painting, and inspection at various stages is possible
- Incorporating some “intelligence” into the equipment (e.g., automated joint tracking) will also reduce operator skill and focus requirements while improving productivity and quality
POINT OF CONTACT: Connie Reichert LaMorte | EWI | firstname.lastname@example.org