API measures various shipbuilding and shipyard processes like plate burning, plate shaping or rolling, unit or block construction and reference line verification, then applies statistics to help control and identify problem areas. This process offers a much higher level of precision over tapes, wooden rulers and plumb bobs. Increased accuracy allows better control over processes with automated data collection and analysis routines.
API accurately measures hull units or blocks and then mathematically compares them to joining sections. Typically, hull units are fabricated with 1″ – 2″ of extra steel (material) on the end that will be joined to another unit. Most shipbuilders use a process of actually moving the units together, aligning them, and then use a scribing process to help remove the extra steel. The precutting process allows the shipbuilder to identify extra material early in the shipbuilding process so it can be removed prior to the critical path. This process saves man-hours and will significantly reduce schedule. In addition, the cost of transporting and lifting multi-ton assemblies is reduced by half. Lastly, work associated with layout, burning and grinding is often done under much better and safer conditions.
Pipes can be manufactured to accurately fit an as-built ship or design condition. The soft-templating process replaces the hard-template process typically associated with building large pipe assemblies. Savings come from a sharp reduction of the time required to construct templates or go through a manual fitting process. Weldment layout and machine alignment large weldments or castings can be measured, analyzed and best fit in a computer model to their optimum design location. Machining reference lines are then installed on the weldment or casting to aid machining operations. This operation will save expensive layout work with optics and setup on layout stations in a machine shop. In addition, using three-dimensional measurement systems makes this a much safer operation when working with awkward shaped casting or weldments like struts since they don’t have to be leveled.
Virtual Machinery Alignment
This application is one of the most schedule-enhancing applications available to a shipbuilder. The notion is to accurately measure and model various machinery components and distributive systems and their future locations shipboard. This capability allows the shipbuilder to manufacture early or in parallel with other activities. Typical benefits include: pre-machine liners and shims, pre-drill bolt holes, pre-manufacture piping, and prediction of alignment problems.
As-built conditions can easily be measured and modeled for planning future modifications. Normally, large format scanners are better suited to this application, but high precision equipment is often needed for tying in scans or for high accuracy requirements.
Torpedo and Missile Tube Alignment
Laser Trackers are very useful for profiling the interior of either torpedo or missile tubes. Alignment features are easily measured to define the coordinate system of the tube and then updated in the appropriate ships fire control reference system. The accurate measurement data can also be used for aligning and machining lands.
Radar Array Alignment
Various types of shipboard or submarine radar arrays are excellent candidates for alignment with a laser tracking system. Shipboard measurement is often less time consuming and more accurate than conventional measurement systems. In addition, the software included with today’s three-dimensional measuring systems makes the often-complicated math to calculate alignment a simple task.
US Navy, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Newport News Shipbuilding, Electric Boat, Marrita Ship, NASSCO, BAE Systems and Colonna’s Shipyard