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NEWS | June 29, 2017

New waterjet cutting machine increases efficiency at Norfolk Naval Shipyard

By NAVSEA, Office of Corporate Communication

NORFOLK, Va. - Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) personnel recently installed a new water jet cutting machine here to increase maintenance capabilities and accelerate their ability to return ships to the fleet on time from maintenance availabilities. 

The shipyard uses the water jet cutting machine to fabricate new parts or replace worn parts during maintenance availabilities. The machine cuts a wide variety of materials using a high- pressure jet of water mixed with an abrasive substance. It was purchased and installed as part of NAVSEA's efforts to replace worn equipment and improve productivity.

"The waterjet's cuts also produce very clean edges which require little finishing. This saves time spent preparing the metal surface for welding," said Mon Kwong, NNSY industrial engineer. "It also operates at a higher rate of pressure, at least 10,000 psi., which makes metal cutting faster."

"The machine also makes more accurate cuts and is operated with a computer control system," said Janine Swanson, NNSY machinist apprentice. "We can cut into thick metals with precision, and the machine even has the ability to etch."

According to Kwong, freshly fabricated parts, such as metal piping, require specific identifying marks, and a strong acid from a separate work station is applied to etch or cut markings into the metal.  Including the etching function in the water jet cutting machine eliminates the physical effort necessary to move heavy metal parts of up to 100 pounds. It also supports the shipyard's Lean management efficiency efforts by reducing time spent moving the heavy metal pieces to another machine across a building or the shipyard. 

"We're taking strides to either refurbish or install new equipment throughout the shipyard to better fit the needs of the workforce and the Navy," added Kwong. "Precision and safety are key factors in what equipment we purchase and install. These folks are the ones using the equipment every day, and it's important to ensure they have the best tools to use at their disposal."

NNSY, a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command, is the oldest and largest industrial facility belonging to the U.S. Navy, and specializes in repairing, overhauling and modernizing ships and submarines.