each of the PEOs for a year-long timeframe to work
commonality and cost reduction projects for their
PEO. As long as we’re providing value to them, we get
good effort and collaboration.
Are the 11 shipyards incentivized to support
KEARNEY: It’s voluntary, so they’re not required in any
way. The shipyards bring their best efforts to the table,
some more actively than others. I think they see great
value in the collaboration, not only because it provides a
forum for them to discuss shipyard issues as a whole but
it helps the government to understand their issues fully.
By getting together in a meaningful way, we can better
understand the challenges they have in reducing costs.
The shipyards can also better understand the challenges we have on our budgets and how the total-ownership-cost pressure is real. They recognize the
value of the cost share of efforts that maybe they have
a project they want to go off and do, but the government is now going to help them get over that final hurdle to actually go do that project, so it helps there.
We also have 17 different universities associated
with us and 200 different companies that help. So it is
really a big collaboration effort between the knowledge
base at our universities as well as what’s in industry.
What are some of the recent technology successes of the NSRP?
KEARNEY: The Zero-G Arm is a good example because
it shows how we can save money by getting all the way
down to the worker level. A worker trying to hold up
a 10- to 15-pound grinder over their head, grinding
away on the rough edges of metal; it’s a really hard job.
The Zero-G Arm is a metal skeletal structure that
the worker wears that articulates in many different
directions and allows them to support that weight on
the metal structure itself, not on their own muscles
and shoulders and back. It allows better health for the
workers and saves time. It allows them to work longer
and become more efficient in what they’re doing.
Another one is the Mobile Robotic Manufacturing
System, used for mobile welding and inspection processes
and cutting/grinding processes. We can lay a track on a
ship and the mobile welding unit robot can either be
welding or [doing] an inspection or a grinding effort. It is
saving lots of time. And in a shipyard, time is money.
The beauty of it is that you can set the speed of it. It
can be welding in a certain direction where it’s really
hard for a human to get to, where you would have to
use a lot more scaffolding. You’d have to take a lot
more breaks because the welding equipment isn’t light.
The rate of weld-bead application can be very much
controlled, easier than by a human welder.
The Navy has been trying to reduce the variety of components such as motors and pumps.
What is SEA 06’s role in this?
KEARNEY: SEA 06 was put into place to figure out
how to reduce our variance across the board. It is an
untenable process where we continue to increase the
variation and we all know we need to actually put into
place some efforts to reduce the variance. We’re reducing variance across the board and not just the parts,
but in how we train our people and how they work.
We have a variety of processes that can easily be
coalesced into more simple ones or with less variation
in like, say, painting processes, which is a big thing for
shipyards. But reduction of parts variation is a big area
we are working.
We may have 4,600 different types of motors in the
Navy. When you look at all the technical specifications
required for the motors we need, we could do it with
1,500. We have 350 different types of freshwater
pumps for the surface ships with 50 different OEMs
[original equipment manufacturers]. We’ve got to be
able to reduce that and we can.
One of the major efforts of SEA 06 is to go figure out
how to do that. It’s a lot more complex than just saying, “OK, we have 100 motors, we only need 20, so figure out which 20 you want and move out.” Because it’s
not just commonality for commonality’s sake, it’s commonality where it makes sense.