NSWC Panama City FL February 17, 2016 - Scientists and engineers from Navy Centers of Innovation developed a new tool that allows Sailors and Marines to save money and time using scanners and modeling and simulation during logistical and planning phases of operational maneuvers.
The two Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Surface Warfare Centers -- Panama City, Florida, and Philadelphia divisions -- continue a collaboration effort and are using 3D scanners to scan the inside of ships of the line to help U.S. Marines determine if vehicles or equipment may be stowed on Navy surface vessels before ever turning the vehicles ignition.
More specifically, scientists and engineers conducted fleet operator focus groups to understand requirements and then collaborated as U.S. Navy Centers for Innovation on a project managed by the Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) for the Office of Naval Research (ONR).
"The project began in fiscal year 2015 in support of the Marine Corps Systems Command, or MCSC," said Tyson Kackley, project lead. "So what does this mean? This project saved thousands of hours of engineering and logistics effort related to transportation and manning simply by using CAD models, science, math and engineering to determine if the vehicle could fit properly inside the ship to allow ingress and egress, before actually attempting to insert the vehicle into the ship."
The Panama City and Philadelphia warfare center division personnel assigned to this project have conducted fleet workshops to allow the scientists and engineers to receive the nece3ssary user feedback to design tools the Sailors and Marines will want to use.
"East Coast Marine Corps combat cargo officers and combat cargo assistants were briefed, and provided input to the project team, regarding potential desirable uses for the tool as well as areas of the ship to pay special attention to during the scanning process," said Kackley. "Personnel from Expeditionary Strike Group 2 (ESG-2), Surface Forces Atlantic (SURFLANT) and Pacific (SURFPAC) have also participated."
Kackley, a NSWC Panama City Division employee, said the project's title, Framework for Assessing Cost and Technology (FACT) Rapid Technology Insertion, builds on the existing capabilities of MCSC's FACT system.
"The FACT system, winner of the Secretary of the Navy's 2014 Acquisition Innovation Award, enables sophisticated trade studies early in the development of Marine Corps vehicle designs," he said. "Models relevant to the system in question are interfaced with FACT models for performance, reliability, [and] cost concurrently.
"FACT allows rapid consideration of hundreds of thousands of design permutations, to zero in on the most promising design candidates," said Kackley. "This system of system analysis provides decision makers the impact on cost, reliability and performance in under 90 seconds.
"In short, the system allows us to use modeling and simulation to assess feasibility before incurring costs using operational assets," he said.
The project used a LIDAR scan of compartments aboard USS Arlington (LPD 24) in May where U.S. Marine vehicles might be stored. The first step of the project was to acquire validated 3D data of the vehicle spaces aboard Arlington via a LIDAR scanning process conducted by NSWC Philadelphia scientists and engineers.
Next, the team inserted a CAD model of a conceptual vehicle inside that surface ships scan to determine feasibility of vehicle transport inside the ship.
"Post-processing alignment of the scans resulted in a virtual environment in which our users could inspect any vehicle stow area aboard a ship with highly detailed three-dimensional realism," said Kackley. "Highly accurate measurements of any visible features are readily accomplished via the point cloud viewing software. The FACT Run Time Interface enhancement will add the capability to consider the transportability aspects of the vehicle design," said Kackley. "In other words, will a proposed design or design modification be able to be transported aboard ship, whether amphibious ships or prepositioning ships."
Subsequent to the ship scan, CAD models of the Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) and a conceptual Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) were provided by the Advanced Amphibious Assault Program Management Office at PEO Land Systems in Stafford, Virginia.
A lightweight CAD model of the AAV was placed within the ship point cloud, to illustrate how the physical limitations of the ship may impact the AAV maneuver from the ship's well deck through the ramps, into the various vehicle holds.
Considerations, such as vehicle break-over angle when negotiating ramps become important, as does the overall external profile, as a vehicle negotiates the tight spaces aboard ship.
James Harrison, who is assigned to the NAVSEA (SEA05D) Ship Design office, located in Washington D.C., coordinated the shipboard tool component validation.
The individual vehicle program offices are providing validation support for the vehicle components of the tool.
The SIAT Transportability and Naval Integration office serves as the accreditation agent, supporting eventual accreditation of the tool by the chief engineer of the Marine Corps.
While the accreditation has not occurred yet, a memorandum of understanding is already in place to support future fleet integration.
The fiscal year 2016 work is to develop the software, which will add this new capability to FACT.
Vehicle designers and transportability certification engineers will be able to use FACT to pull up the desired ship and vehicle, and conduct rapid assessments as to where any trouble spots might occur when maneuvering a vehicle aboard a ship.
"At the end of acquisition process, this new tool will be transitioned to the fleet and integrated into FACT," said Kackley. "To access the system, service members simply access the tool via a web browser from any computer. That is the desired end state."
Additionally, Kackley said staffs from HQMC Plans, Policies and Operations (PP&O), HQMC Combat Development and Integration (CD&I), OPNAV N95, NAVSEA PMS 317, as well as MCSC and PEO Land Systems have been engaged as active stakeholders in the project.
NSWC PCD, under the Expeditionary Maneuver Technical Program Manager (TPM), is providing project management support, on-site support to MCSC SIAT Modeling and Simulation, as well as software development support.
The resource sponsor is the ONR Technology Insertion Program for Savings (TIPS). MCSC Systems Engineering, Interoperability, Architectures, and Technology (SIAT) Modeling and Simulation Division manages this project in support of ONR and the two NAVSEA warfare centers interface with the fleet operators and deliver the science behind the capability.