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Navy Optimizing Shipyards With Digital-Twin Technology

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The Navy’s public shipyards — which repair the service’s submarines and aircraft carriers — are ageing and facing obsolescence issues. To revitalize the yards and improve infrastructure, the Navy is in the midst of a multi-billion-dollar optimization overhaul that will employ digital twin technology to map out areas most in need of changes.

The Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program, or SIOP, is a 20-year, $21-billion effort to modernize the four public yards in Norfolk, Virginia; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Portsmouth, Virginia; and Puget Sound, Washington.

“We’ve got dry docks that are over 100 years old,” said Steve Lagana, program manager for the SIOP office. “We have buildings that are over 100 years old.”

Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., ranking member of the House Armed Services subcommittee on seapower and projection forces, said the yards are in dire need of an upgrade.

“When you travel to our public shipyards, it is sobering to see the age of the dry docks, … the limited capability of the dry docks, and also the age of the shops that are there,” he said during the Surface Navy Association’s annual conference in January, which was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This creates substantial efficiency issues, he noted.

“If you go to a place like Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and you’re working on a ship in a dry dock and the shop that is producing materials for that ship is thousands of feet away, … it is grossly inefficient to be able to do that,” Wittman said.

Over time, the infrastructure “got a little misconfigured for what we’re doing,” Lagana said in an interview.

The missions had changed over the years from shipbuilding to maintenance, and then to nuclear-powered ship maintenance, he noted.

“The infrastructure just never evolved with those changes,” he said.

The Navy recognized that infrastructure is intrinsically linked to performance and in 2017 began laying the groundwork for the SIOP program, which officially began in the summer of 2018, Lagana said.

“This really is an industrial manufacturing optimization program with a focus on productivity in the shipyards and how that affects the overall national defence,” he said. “How do we get submarines in and out of shipyards as efficiently as possible, so the fleet commanders have the assets they need to do their mission?”

Critical to the effort is a modelling-and-simulation technology known as digital twins which digitally replicates an object, place or building, said Stephanie Douglas, executive director for logistics, maintenance and industrial operations at Naval Sea Systems Command.

“The modelling and simulation are really key as it allows us the opportunity to figure out how to optimize flow, not only within the shops but around the yards to provide the most efficient and productive layout for operations within the shipyard,” she said.

“We’re already seeing some really exciting things come out of the modelling-and-simulation piece of it in terms of opportunities.”

The service reached out to industry to tackle the “massive effort” and chose Siemens Government Technologies to create digital twins for each of the four yards, Lagana said.

“There has never been a digital twin modelling-and-simulation effort of this size and scale ever in the world,” he said.

The service completed its first digital twin of Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard near the end of 2020, he said. Puget Sound recently finished up its baseline model and will soon begin analysis for its industrial optimization. Meanwhile, data collection recently wrapped up in January at Portsmouth.

“Once we do the validation and verification of that, we will start into that effort,” he said.

Norfolk is also moving along well, he added. Lagana noted that all the yards will have their digital twins up and running this year. The service is already gleaning a great deal of information from Pearl Harbor’s digital twin, he said.

“We’re definitely getting some better insight into some potential tweaks in infrastructure,” he said. “With any analysis, you kind of want to find that sweet spot, that knee in the curve to where can I get the most efficiencies with the best return on investment.”

In some cases, the Navy is finding that some areas are not as bad as they originally thought and applying “lean manufacturing principles” could provide good value, Lagana said.

However, in other areas they are finding that they may need to construct new buildings to create efficiencies.

For example, some workforce service buildings may need to be moved closer to the waterfront, he said. “That way the workers don’t have to travel so far for food or for training or for any type of support,” he said.

In April, the office plans to bring together all of Pearl Harbor’s facilities engineers, modellers and industrial engineers to sift through the data and outline a new area development plan that will articulate the service’s intentions for the shipyard, Lagana said. That will include infrastructure investments that are required to achieve efficiencies and a strategy to execute them.

As the various digital twins come online, the Navy is applying lessons learned to the entire program, he said.

“We’re learning as we’re ingesting thousands and thousands of lines of data and information into the model,” he said. The service is identifying limitations in the software and working through those to make the system more efficient. Those changes will then be incorporated into the other digital twins.

Already the service has found changes at Puget Sound that can be applied to Pearl Harbor.

“The interesting thing is we found out a tidbit of information at Puget Sound that we did not find at Pearl because of a different business line,” he said. “It’s a constant learning process. We’re learning every day with the data, the model and how we interact with the model.”

Lagana compared the Navy’s digital twin approach to what is known as the spiral development of software.

“You let [the first version] run for a little bit, find your bugs, and then your program in the fixes for those bugs,” he said. “We can continuously do this with the model. We can manipulate the model with new information, and you can program in different functionality … so we can run different types of analyses.”

The digital twins are becoming very robust and flexible tools, he added.

Lagana noted that the service went with a single contractor for all four yards to increase continuity among the digital twins.

“There are different variables at each of the shipyards that we have to consider, … [including] what kind of mission, what kind of fleet assets each shipyard services, inactivation of ships, different types of ships that can pull into different types of dry dock to different yards,” he said. “We felt like a risk mitigation tool, we’ll use one approach, one methodology at all four sites to get us to a really high confidence level baseline that we can then evolve from.”

This approach has facilitated knowledge transfer between the yards and has allowed the service to make progress rapidly, he added.

Lagana noted that so far there have been no delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We haven’t even seen a delay of one day,” he said. “As soon as COVID hit, the team got together, and because a lot of this is digital kind of work and the big boom of Zoom and [Microsoft] Teams and virtual meeting platforms, … it was easy to continue to have those engagements in a virtual environment and continue the dialogue and the data transfers to keep moving.”
Lagana noted that digital twin technology could be useful across the Navy, including in private ship repair yards for surface vessels.

Bryan Clark, director of the Center for Defense Concepts and Technology at the Hudson Institute, noted that some private construction shipyards are already employing the technology.

“Doing digital models of your shipyard is very popular in some of the high-efficiency shipyards you see overseas. Chinese shipyards, Daewoo in South Korea, German shipyards — all use computer modelling,” he said. They “have for a long time been using computer modelling to improve the efficiency of their shipyards and improve their workflow and figure out how to maximize the predictability of the ship construction process.”

Digital twins are just now starting to be employed in ship repair yards, he noted. The challenge for them, however, is that they are much smaller than new-construction yards and have less money to invest.

“The returns aren’t as significant,” he said. “You don’t get the big tranche of money that you do with a ship construction project where you can sort of bringing your digital twin investment into the construction of a new class of ship.”

Digital twinning requires a lot of software and time which can result in significant investment, he said.

“They may not have that kind of cash lying around,” he noted. The Navy could either provide a system to them or help them invest in it themselves by giving them a grant.

However, Wittman has criticized the SIOP program and said it is taking too long to complete.

“We need to cut the SIOP plan in half in order to have any chance of having what’s necessary to maintain the ships,” he said. “If we’re going to build to a 500-ship Navy the only way that we have the full capability of those ships is to make sure that there’s not a single maintenance availability that’s missed; and making sure, too, that we have necessary practices in order to get change orders through quickly, to make sure we model what to expect.”

Vice Adm. William Galinis, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, noted that the SIOP program “is certainly one of those things that we really need to get after” over the next decade.

However, Douglas said accelerating the program would not be easy.

“Think about it in terms of living in your house while they’re doing a wholesale renovation and moving you from room to room to room,” she said. “That’s the challenge that we will have in trying to accelerate as there are so many dependencies in between everything we do within the shipyards.”

The post Navy Optimizing Shipyards With Digital-Twin Technology appeared first on ELE Times.

Source: https://www.eletimes.com/navy-optimizing-shipyards-with-digital-twin-technology

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Virgin Galactic unveils new spaceship for its growing fleet

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Virgin Galactic has unveiled the company’s first SpaceShip III in its growing fleet, VSS Imagine.

The spaceship showcases Virgin Galactic’s innovation in design and astronaut experience. Imagine also demonstrates progress toward efficient design and production, as Virgin Galactic works to scale the business for the long-term.

VSS Imagine will commence ground testing, with glide flights planned for this summer from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

The livery design, finished entirely with a mirror-like material, reflects the surrounding environment, constantly changing colour and appearance as it travels from earth to sky to space.

Leveraging a modular design, the SpaceShip III class of vehicles are built to enable improved performance in terms of maintenance access and flight rate. This third generation of spaceship will lay the foundation for the design and manufacture of future vehicles.

As VSS Imagine begins ground testing, manufacturing will progress on VSS Inspire, the second SpaceShip III vehicle within the Virgin Galactic fleet. The introduction of the SpaceShip III class of vehicles is an important milestone in Virgin Galactic’s multi-year effort that targets flying 400 flights per year, per spaceport.

VSS Imagine is unveiled ahead of VSS Unity’s next test flight, which is planned for May 2021.

Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, commented: “Today we unveiled our SpaceShip III class of vehicles, marking the beginning of the Virgin Galactic fleet. VSS Imagine and Inspire are stunning ships that will take our future astronauts on an incredible voyage to space, and their names reflect the aspirational nature of human spaceflight. Congratulations to our dedicated team who worked so brilliantly to achieve this milestone.”

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, added: “Virgin Galactic spaceships are built specifically to deliver a new, transforming perspective to the thousands of people who will soon be able to experience the wonder of space for themselves. As a SpaceShip III class of vehicle, Imagine is not just beautiful to look at, but represents Virgin Galactic’s growing fleet of spaceships. All great achievements, creations and changes start with an idea. Our hope is for all those who travel to space to return with fresh perspectives and new ideas that will bring positive change to our planet.”

www.virgingalactic.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/virgin-galactic-unveils-new-spaceship-for-its-growing-fleet/

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Hexcel joins ASCEND project

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Hexcel joins ASCEND project

Hexcel has announced its role within the recently launched UK-based project called ASCEND (Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development) that will focus on developing high-rate manufacturing and processing technologies that will accelerate the development of new, lightweight advanced composite materials.

The composites company will join lead partner GKN Aerospace and 13 other project stakeholders in a collaboration across the UK supply chain to develop the technologies and automation equipment required to manufacture lightweight, more fuel-efficient structures for sustainable air mobility, aerospace, and automotive industries.

Hexcel will contribute to the ASCEND project framework, developing a new HexPly fast cure prepreg system that will significantly reduce component processing times compared to existing aerospace prepregs.

In addition to its new fast curing prepreg technology, Hexcel’s range of Liquid Composite Moulding (LCM) products will be incorporated into the ASCEND project work packages. The project will use both HiTape advanced unidirectional dry carbon reinforcements and HiMax multiaxial non-crimp fabrics reinforcements.

The ASCEND project will allow Hexcel to collaborate with Tier 1 companies, engineers, tooling specialists, and production equipment OEMs to deliver both prepreg and liquid composite moulding solutions that meet both the performance targets and satisfy the processing requirements for high-rate automated manufacture.

The technical integration enabled by the ASCEND project partnerships will ensure a complete understanding of customer performance and processing needs, coupled with the opportunity to industrialize new technologies utilizing the extensive capabilities of GKN’s Global Technology Centre in Bristol.

Paul Mackenzie, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Hexcel, said “We are  proud to be part of the ASCEND program, and we look forward to working with other leading companies as we develop processes and materials that help to make the next generation of sustainable air mobility, aerospace, and automotive vehicles possible. This project offers the perfect platform for Hexcel to collaborate and further develop our HexPly, HiMax, and HiTape technologies.”

The ASCEND partners working alongside Hexcel include Assyst Bulmer, Airborne, Cobham Mission Systems Wimborne, Cygnet Texkimp, DES Composites, FAR-UK, Hive Composites, LMAT, Loop Technology, McLaren Automotive, The National Composites Centre, Solvay Composite Technologies, Rafinex, and Sigmatex (UK).

Together, the group looks forward to delivering the material and automation innovations that will power more sustainable mobility solutions of the future.

www.hexcel.com

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Boeing Commercial Airplanes extends landing gear kits contract with Magellan

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Boeing Commercial Airplanes division has extended its component supply contract with Canada-based supplier Magellan Aerospace.

Under this long-term contract, Magellan will continue to supply landing gear kits and structural components for Boeing platforms such as the 737, 767, and 777.

The contract extension also shows that Magellan meets Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ cost, quality and performance requirements.

Magellan business development, marketing and contract vice-president Haydn Martin said: “Securing this major business extension for key Boeing platforms is foundational for our New York and Kitchener facilities as the aerospace industry works to recover from the impact of the global pandemic.

“The confidence that Boeing has placed in Magellan is significant and demonstrates our ability to offer our customers comprehensive and reliable solutions.”

For Boeing, the company is using a vertical integration strategy that leverages global resources in Ontario, New York City, and India.

It has also made significant investments across all its facilities regarding manufacturing technology and the workforce to enhance its competitiveness worldwide.

Magellan will deliver these kits and hardware from its facilities in Kitchener, Ontario and New York City, New York. The company will also produce an extra supply of kits to reduce production risk.

Deliveries will be made directly to Boeing’s assembly facilities in Renton and Everett, Washington, US.

Last month, Magellan signed a five-year renewal agreement with Avio Aero to supply magnesium and aluminium castings.

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Source: https://www.aerospace-technology.com/news/boeing-commercial-aircraft-magellan/

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ZeroAvia raises new funding for hydrogen-electric engine development

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Zero-emission aviation firm ZeroAvia has raised $24.3m in new funding to support the development of a 2MW hydrogen-electric engine.

Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Horizons Ventures, an existing investor, led the latest funding round and was joined by new investor British Airways.

Other investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Ecosystem Integrity Fund, Summa Equity, Shell Ventures, and SYSTEMIQ, also joined the financing.

The financing takes the company’s total private investment to more than $53m while the total funding raised is close to $74m since its formation.

ZeroAvia’s funding comes a few months after the UK Government, through the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), and Innovate UK, announced a $16.3m (£12.3m) grant to deliver a 19-seat hydrogen-electric powered aircraft in the market by 2023.

The new funding will accelerate the hydrogen-electric powertrain development for a ten to 20-seater regional aircraft.

ZeroAvia aims to commercialise the engine as early as 2024. The company aims to enter the more than 50-seater commercial aircraft segment by 2026.

The funding will also de-risk the company ambition to power a 100-seat single-aisle aircraft by 2030.

ZeroAvia CEO and founder Val Miftakhov said: “This new funding, in conjunction with our other recent milestones, will significantly accelerate our path to zero-emission solutions for larger regional aircraft at a commercial scale.

“With many airlines lining up and ready to make the shift to zero-emissions, we expect to see wide-scale adoption of this technology.”

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Source: https://www.aerospace-technology.com/news/zeroavia-electric-raising-funds/

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