The company and university have tested new technology designed to support and improve human assembly throughout the manufacturing process.
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As part of their collaboration on the Line Zero – Pilot Factory of the Future at the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide’s south, BAE Systems Australia and Flinders University have tested new manufacturing techniques and technologies.
The trials – informing the potential use of the technologies for production of the Royal Australian Navy’s nine future Hunter Class frigates under the $45 billion SEA5000 project – have recently focused on exploring whether digital technologies can support human performance in assembly and inspection.
Among the technologies to be trialed is the “HoloLens” – an augmented reality (AR) headset used as a “cobot” (collaborative robot), providing an optical recognition camera for visual inspection tasks.
The HoloLens’ virtual instructions were leveraged to successfully assemble electric cabinets before a cobot was activated to perform inspections.
“The Line Zero – Pilot Factory of the Future facility at Tonsley allows us to collaborate with academics, researchers and industry to solve real-world shipyard problems in a safe, controlled and intelligent environment,” BAE Systems Australia - maritime, continuous naval shipbuilding strategy director Sharon 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.”
BAE Systems Australia – maritime operations director Jim Cuthil said the collaboration is supporting the modernisation of shipbuilding processes.
“But the Hunter Class Frigate Program is about more than just building nine of the world’s most advanced anti-submarine warfare frigates; it is about building an enduring and uniquely Australian sovereign industrial capability that supports Australia’s continuous naval shipbuilding strategy for future generations,” Cuthil said.
Professor John Spoehr, pro vice-chancellor of research innovation and director of the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute at Flinders University, said the trials would help determine 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,” he said.
“We can also explore the limits of acceptable workloads which better inform the rate and complexity of new technologies in the supply chain.”