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NEWS | Nov. 20, 2018

Shipyard pipefitters develop training on 3D mapping tool

By Max Maxfield, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility

Until recently, pipefitters from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility who needed to learn how to use 3D modelling to fabricate pipe assembles had to learn the mapping process on the job.

Brandon Bliss and the team from PSNS & IMF’s Pipefitter Shop changed all that through development of a formalized training program that is now paying dividends for the command and its sister shipyards.

Bliss, a mechanic with the Pipefitter Shop, earned his qualifications to design, develop and deliver training in accordance with the Naval Shipyard Training and Education Program, then built a training program on the use of portable coordinate measuring machine, or PCMM. In addition to training teammates, the program was used to prepare four future trainers from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and three from Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Oct. 16-25.

PCMMs are articulated arms that have a sensor on the tip, which can be set up near an object or network of objects like pipes. They measure precisely where that sensor is. With the integrated software a mechanic can touch an object along its outer edges and build an extremely accurate 3D computer file of the object, or even a map of a piping setup.

While approximately 15 PSNS & IMF mechanics have previously received formalized PCMM training, October’s class was the first offered to mechanics from other shipyards who are expected to become subject matter experts and trainers at their home shipyards.

According to Matt Grimes, nuclear production general foreman with the Pipefitter Shop, PSNS & IMF mostly uses PCMMs to measure existing piping runs aboard a ship that require repair or replacement, and then reverse engineer the assemblies in the shop.

“What this allows us to do is go down and measure once a replacement is identified, start some of the prefab prior to cutting the old section out,” Grimes explained. “Once the old piping is cut out, we go down and measure the standing ends shipboard and then finish the newly fabricated assembly. Before, we would cut out the old piping assembly, go down with the welders and build templates, which would give us our end-to-end lengths, and only then start the pre-fab.”

Grimes said other shipyards use this type of equipment for other applications. While the PSNS & IMF course is geared toward the pipefitting world, student-mechanics who come here to learn how to use the equipment and software can take that knowledge back to their commands.

“We are teaching them our lesson plan so that they learn how we do business, and maybe learn a new technique, which they can then go back and teach their people,” Grimes said. “The mechanics who came here for the class are the ones who use the equipment at their home locations and who will be teaching at their yards.”

“Within the last year or so, we identified the need to put down on paper the work practices that we do each day,” Grimes recalled. “So, Brandon started building the class with the help of other PCMM users and built all the presentations and activities the students learn in the class.”

According to Grimes, there are two levels of Virtual Pipefitting Program instruction. The first one, which the students from the other shipyards attended in October, is the Virtual Pipefitting Limited class. Bliss is currently finalizing a Virtual Pipefitting Full course, which should be approved by the end of the year.

“What I like most is seeing the shipyard evolve and bring in new technology,” Grimes said. “We have such a young workforce who are extremely tech savvy, and they pick this stuff up really quickly.”