Digital shipyard to transform local industry

BAE Systems' digital shipyard will open a world of opportunities for Australia, transforming the supply chain through digitisation toand creating a new generation of ship builders.

If BAE Systems is successful on SEA 5000, its proposed digital shipyard will not only deliver world-class frigates for the Royal Australian Navy, it will help create one of the most skilled and sought-after shipbuilding workforces in the world.

The new purpose built ship building facility at Techport, South Australia, will employ thousands of Australians and foster the development of a new generation of skilled workers, equipping them with industry knowledge and experience that will open up global employment opportunities.

Highlighting the benefits to Australian shipbuilding workers, BAE Systems Australia’s former Chief Executive Glynn Phillips pointed to the Australian oil and gas sector as an industry where knowledge transfer has upskilled a workforce.

“Australian petroleum industry workers are some of the most knowledgeable and sought after in the world,” Mr Phillips said.

“That workforce has benefited hugely from intellectual property imported from global companies like BAE Systems, and knowledge sharing from workers from the North Sea and US oil and gas operations. As a result, Australians can now be found leading projects in every hydrocarbon producing region of the world, and this is a model we expect to see replicated in the Australian shipbuilding workforce.”

“Employing thousands of Australians, Techport will foster a new generation of skilled workers equipping them with industry knowledge and experience that will open up global employment opportunities.”

BAE Systems’ digital shipyard will enable the transfer to Australia of intellectual property and technical data, including the digital ship design optimised for the Global Combat Ship – Australia (GCS-A), together with all naval shipbuilding processes tailored to the requirements of the shipyard at Techport.

The first of class Type 26 Global Combat Ship (the reference ship for the GCS-A), is now in production at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Glasgow. A further two will be complete before Australia commences production of the GCS-A, meaning the Royal Australia Navy will get the fourth of class as its first SEA 5000 vessel if BAE Systems is selected for the program.

The shipyard will be one of the most technologically advanced facilities anywhere in the world.

The design authority transfer will start in 2018 on the back of more than A$1.5b of investment design and engineering which has already been committed to develop the Type 26 Global Combat Ship.

The shipyard will be one of the most technologically advanced facilities anywhere in the world, according to Glynn Phillips.

“Digitisation enables a significant step change across every element of a traditional ship design and build program,” Mr Phillips said.

“Every aspect of the ship during the design and build and throughout its service life is live and accessible to the crew as well as all those involved in the maintenance and upgrades of the fleet and approved suppliers.”

Digitisation is also a valuable tool for managing risk, according to Brad Yelland, BAE Systems Australia’s Engineering Director. “Modern defence equipment is highly complex, often integrating technologies from a variety of sources,” Mr Yelland said. “Digitisation provides a robust foundation that enables us to more effectively manage the risks associated with that complexity.”

Digitisation will also bring the ship ‘to life’ during its service life. Intelligent systems, on board and linked to those ashore will monitor the performance of the ship and its systems allowing the ship’s crew to focus on the right tasks and ensuring that the right parts and specialist help are available before they are needed.

The digital shipyard will include an inventory of parts, including cost and acoustic signature, suppliers and their details, providing Australian industry the opportunity to improve upon all parts and systems used in the construction of the GCS-A. It will also be the first time in Australia where a ship’s systems will have the intelligence to report on its own performance and maintenance needs and have the ability to order both the maintenance and parts required prior to docking.

“Our investment will ensure that everyone on the program has access to information that will save time and money and facilitate greater innovation in our supply chain,” Glynn Phillips said. “This innovation could lead to export opportunities for Australian businesses on a 17 ship production program, given the Type 26 construction already underway in the UK”.

The shipbuilding program will be creating a skilled workforce that will be world class.

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