Development of a System to Support Continuous Improvement of Shipyard Welding Operations

Period of Performance: 08/20/2003 - 04/18/2005


Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Weldware, Inc.
1165 Chambers Rd.
Columbus, OH 43212
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

Edison Welding Institute
1250 Arthur E. Adams Drive
Columbus, OH 43221
Institution POC


In Phase 1, WeldWare demonstrated the feasibility of using a portable computer-based device to collect weld quality data, referred to as the Weld Quality Manager (WQM). Further development of WQM to integrate lean-enterprise / six-sigma methodologies for shipbuilding welding applications would provide important financial and quality benefits. The ability to apply these methodologies to welding has been identified by U.S. shipyards as having a major impact on increasing productivity and reducing costs. The following team has been assembled to develop an electronic method of efficiently applying lean-enterprise and/or six-sigma methodologies to welding: WeldWare, Inc., Edison Welding Institute, Northrop Grumman Newport News (NGNN) and General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB). To accomplish this objective, the following tasks will be performed. First, an efficient means of collecting data will be developed. Based on input from the shipyards, WeldWare will modify WQM for capturing data for "one of a kind" welded assemblies. Second, statistical methodologies that can be applied to welding will be evaluated. Next, a pilot Shipyard-WQM will be implemented for collecting and analyzing the data in the shipyards. Finally, a business case will be developed via a return-on-investment analysis. The implementation of the Shipyard-WQM methodology will allow the application of Lean Enterprise and six-sigma approaches to welding at shipyards. The resulting technology is expected to find wide acceptance in the U.S. shipbuilding industry. Based on discussions with three U.S. yards, they indicated that the techniques developed under this program would be applicable to their operations to reduce construction costs for both naval and commercial surface ships, and submarines. The proposed tool will support shipbuilding cost reduction initiatives by: Reduced welding production costs, Reducing inspection costs, Reducing data analysis costs, and Reduction of redundant inspection operations to support SPC.