Agile, Wireless-Enabled Workflows for Ship Manufacturing & Repair (AWSM™)

The AWSM™ technology represents a new paradigm for ship manufacturing that redesigns manufacturing processes and uses computing and wireless technologies to deliver information–activity statuses, resource availability, design and scheduling changes–to every user, work crew, or process involved in the project.

A central challenge in any large-scale manufacturing environment is to effectively adjust to production and procurement glitches that ripple across and continually threaten manufacturing schedules.  The ship manufacturing industry is no exception.  With manufacturing projects that stretch over years and involve numerous divisions, materials, facilities, and manpower, how can U.S. shipyards achieve the kind of proactive flexibility needed to develop and maintain the most efficient and cost-effective production schedules?

The goal of KBSI’s Agile, Wireless-enabled Workflows for Ship Manufacturing and Repair (AWSM™) initiative was to develop a new paradigm for ship manufacturing that is based on a redesign of the manufacturing processes.  This paradigm takes advantage of recent developments in computing and wireless technology to deliver information–activity statuses, resource availabilities, design and scheduling changes–to every user, work crew, or process, regardless of their location, involved in ship production or repair.  The AWSM™ technology, however, goes beyond making manufacturing processes wireless.  The AWSM™ initiative focused on the complete redesign of manufacturing processes using a new paradigm in which the workload is constantly adjusted–by optimally utilizing the flexibility and connectivity of PDA, Tablet PC, and wireless technologies–to achieve peak performance.

KBSI’s first step in Phase I of the AWSM™ initiative was to re-engineer the workflows in material planning, procurement, kitting, production planning, scheduling, and manufacturing to achieve optimal information delivery and collection.  We used simulation and structured modeling methods including process modeling (IDEF3), function modeling (IDEF0), and data modeling (IDEF1X) to facilitate workflow re-engineering.  The KBSI team utilized KBSI’s suite of modeling tools–PROSIM®AIØ WIN®, and SMARTER®–for this modeling work.  The AWSM™ technology is based on modular and customizable concepts using off-the-shelf software and hardware, allowing it to be easily transitioned to a variety of other shipyards.

The AWSM™ paradigm allows users to perform dynamic scheduling in which real-time information on task status, resource availabilities, and job priorities are considered on the fly and serve as the basis for determining the next task for operators or crews.  Using AWSM™, a shop foreman or other production person at Bender Shipbuilding and Repair, where the technology was used and refined, can participate in the information and electronic workflow framework regardless of their physical location.  Users can, from a desktop or PDA, tap into their production planning screens to check the status of various shipbuilding activities and see what resources are currently on-hand.  The AWSM™ technology shows the real-time status of fabrication and assembly as well as provides the capability to adjust to new design and schedule changes.  Equipment failures, unforeseen delays, and other work impact events are easily communicated and the information necessary to decide the best course of action is provided anytime, anywhere in a ubiquitous manner.

Phase II Development

WebBanner_INFORMATIONTECHNOLOGYIn addition, the AWSM™ technology builds upon the scheduling (WORKSHIP™) and common parts catalog, material planning, and procurement (MIDAPS™) technologies that are currently being used at Bender Shipbuilding and Repair.  Tying back into these applications allows users of the AWSM™ technology to dynamically adjust, with minimal effort, resources, schedules, and materiel requisitions.

This is a considerable shift from the existing paradigm in which schedules must accommodate the lag between planning, scheduling, and execution.  The longer time horizon for information collection, planning, scheduling, and execution creates a perpetual gap between the current status of the manufacturing facilities (shop floor, warehouse, transportation, ramps, etc.) and the state of these facilities in planning and information systems.  As a consequence, operators often view schedules as idealized conditions that are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.  The AWSM™ technology takes advantage of pervasive computing, data collection, and display technologies to provide planners and operators with up to the minute, real-time scheduling information.

The AWSM™ technology revolutionizes the manufacturing and support processes in shipbuilding, helping the industry to transition to an agile, lean, and more cost-effective manufacturing environment.  The project also improves the quality of information systems data by making the collection and distribution of information an integral part of shipyard processes.