RTT RECEIVES SLICE OF $14.7 MILLION FOR R&D PROJECTS AWARDED BY THE NATIONAL SHIPBUILDING RESEARCH PROGRAM
Robotic Technologies of Tennessee & Project Partners Receive $845 Thousand in Funding To Turn Fixed Robotic Welding Cell Type Automation Into Small Mobile Systems Deployable In Ship Compartments & Panel Lines
COOKEVILLE, TN, December 20, 2016. Robotic Technologies of Tennessee (RTT) and its partners, VT Halter Marine, Edison Welding Institute (EWI), Bath Iron Works (BIW), Bollinger Shipyards, NASSCO and Visible Welding, will integrate lightweight (45 lbs), small, six degree of freedom robotic arms on mobile bases to perform mechanized welds on common shipyard weld types. RTT is project lead for this NSRP two-year project. Total funding reached 930 thousand dollars after project adjustments. Click here for NSRP Press Release.
“Robotic welding cells trace their origins to the 1960’s. The robotic welding arms used then and those used now in US shipyards have not changed much in size and weight. But today there exists small welding arms that can be mounted on small mobile platforms and brought to the most common ship welds: collars, clips and erection welds. Helping transition welding cells from heavy, stationary, high-cost installations to lightweight, mobile, lower cost systems will bring significant benefits to the US Shipyard industry,” according to Steve Glovsky, Executive Vice President of RTT,
NSRP’s Strategic Investment Plan seeks funding targeting “breakthrough technologies and processes” to reduce total cost of ownership. Broad adoption of automation addresses these goals, but shipyard production supervisors assert that ship fabrication simply involves spaces, structures and fit ups where automation doesn’t fit. This project seeks to change that.
“RTT has toured every major shipyard over the last 10 years. The welding engineers and supervisors at each yard point out the same challenge. Their welders easily spend half their time on collars, clips, tie downs and erection joints. These make up the majority of manual weld for many Navy ships: up to and above 50% of all welds. These welds are performed in tight spaces; among obstructions or in compartments; and involve awkward body positions,” says Steve Glovsky, Executive Vice President of RTT.
RTT President Dr. Jamie Beard defines the challenge: “Large structures have never lent themselves well to automation. Historically, robots were used in factories where the material can be brought to the robots. Ships are built in yards, not factories. When automation is used, it is generally used on panel lines where (1) Gantrys manipulate heavy robotic arms, or (2) material handling systems manipulate heavy plate to a stationary robot. The ability to bring a small welding robot to the weld opens up many more weld types for mechanization. The ultimate goal is to create a mobile system that travels with the welder. If the welder can reach the weld, so can the mobile system.”
VT Halter Marine will define targeted weld types for mechanization and provide material and labor support. Other participating shipyards will help identify similar weld types in their yards where mobile welding systems can be used and advisory support.
“EWI will develop weld parameters, test plans and conduct testing on mockups based on the identified weld types that the RTT system will address,” according to Charlie Drews,” EWI Project Manager.
About The National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP)
NSRP is a collaboration of 12 U.S. shipyards working with government, industry, and academia to achieve the continuous product and process improvements necessary for the U.S. shipbuilding industry to reduce the cost of ship construction and repair. NSRP’s mission is to manage and focus national shipbuilding and ship repair research and development funding on technologies that will reduce the cost of warships to the U.S. Navy by leveraging commercial practices and improving the efficiency of the U.S. shipbuilding and ship repair industry. NSRP also provides a collaborative forum to improve business and acquisition processes. NSRP is sponsored by the U.S. Navy and managed through the Naval Sea Systems Command.
About Robotic Technologies of Tennessee
RTT designs, builds, tests and sells industrial climbing technologies. RTT’s proprietary innovations allow it to build light weight systems capable of supporting heavy payloads that are able to traverse uneven and heavily coated surfaces. The Company was originally formed to help commercialize climbing technology developed, in part at, Tennessee Tech University. RTT’s mobile welding systems are used by shipyards, Universities and innovative R&D organizations to address and solve complex welding challenges. RTT’s commercial ultrasonic, non-destructive, inspection platform is used by utilities around the United States to perform tank, boiler, penstock, furnace and pipe inspections. The system consists of a crawler platform, transducer, surface preparation tool and controller. The system scans in a wide variety of positions including horizontal and vertical. During operation, the user has real-time control of the travel speed and direction via a joystick control pendant. Software automatically collects data and logs the real-time vertical position of the transducer and the thickness readings retrieved automatically from the flaw detector.
RTT Media Contact: Steve Glovsky, firstname.lastname@example.org