Flinders University and ASC Shipbuilding are to establish a digital test laboratory to try out the technologies to be used in construction with the RAN’s nine new Hunter class frigates.
The lab will form part of Flinders University’s advanced manufacturing research facilities based at the Tonsley Innovation District in South Australia.
In the laboratory, researchers, ASC Shipbuilding and suppliers will be developing and testing the technologies that future shipyard workers will use at the new digital shipyard, currently under construction within the Osborne Naval Shipyard precinct.
ASC Shipbuilding managing director Craig Lockhart said that applying digital technology in a ship building facility will require a fundamental shift in how the industry has traditionally operated.
“We are establishing a world-leading shipyard right here in Australia – it will mean autonomous ground delivery vehicles, paperless work orders, robots, laser scanning and projection, virtual reality and, part and tool tracking, just to name a few technologies,” he said.
“We are so pleased to partner with some of Australia’s leading researchers at Flinders University to help us create an efficient, safe and productive shipyard which provides long term careers for future workers that are exciting, challenging and rewarding.”
Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling said Flinders was applying its research leadership in Industry 4.0 to contribute to faster, safer production and enhanced economic growth.
“Our expertise in industrial transformation will bring tangible benefits to the frigate project, one of the biggest defence investments in the nation’s history,” Prof Stirling said. “Industry 4.0 is vital part of the digital transformation underway in manufacturing and this new research partnership with ASC Shipbuilding will help to solve the real world challenges faced in a modern shipyard.
“Flinders is delighted to be ASC Shipbuilding’s partner of choice in this important defence research initiative that will be pivotal to economic growth and workforce development in South Australia.”
The Hunter class frigate, derived from the UK Type 26 Global Combat Ship is first wholly digitally designed warship to be made in Australia.
Prototyping begins next year, testing and refining all processes, systems, tools, facilities and workforce competencies. Construction on the first frigate starts in 2022.