Industrial Human Augmentation Systems (iHAS) for Improved Shipyard Operations – Phase II

NCMS Project #: 140816

Problem: Manufacturing operations in industry often consist of repetitive motions with ergonomic challenges, particularly in lifting and placement of heavy or bulky objects. Exoskeletal systems offer freedom of movement with the assistance of a robotic-type shell (exoskeletal) made up of strong, lightweight material worn by individuals to assist them with everyday chores. Exoskeletons can significantly reduce injuries in all industrial sectors where it is applicable. Reduced costs through improved productivity, increased throughput, quality and reduced rework can also be expected. Finally, worker quality of work life can be significantly improved.

Benefit: Testing this technology at a FRC is expected to advance awareness and understanding of Exoskeleton technology and how best to deploy the technology in an industrial environment. While this project has specific application to shipbuilding maintenance, the lessons learned using the same technology has broad application to many industry sectors including aerospace, medical, heavy equipment manufacturing, rail and automotive among others.

Solution/Approach: This initiative proposes to procure two MANTIS exoskeletons from Lockheed Martin for continued Industrial Human Augmentation RDT&E and Technology Transfer efforts currently underway as a demonstration by Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NSWCCD), NAVAIR and NCMS.

Phase 1 was at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Phase II will leverage these lessons learned and evaluate these applications at Navy Fleet Readiness Centers (FRCs) to support maintenance and sustainment. NAVAIR Depots have shown a particular interest in this technology as work performed each day by workers on aircraft is a very rigorous and exhausting. Research from multiple shipyards has found that an augmented human is much more productive while being less prone to injury than a non-augmented human. As such, the Navy FRCs have asked to become a test bed to assess the benefits of human augmentation while performing corrosion protection and other heavy remediation tasks.

Impact on Warfighter:

  • Reduced worker strain, fatigue and injuries
  • Reduced costs
  • Improved productivity

DoD Participation:

  • U.S. Navy (NAVAIR Patuxent River)
  • U.S. Navy (NAVAIR FRCs)
  • U.S. Navy (NSWC Carderock)

Industry Participation:

  • Lockheed Martin
  • NCMS

Technology Focus Area(s):

  • Cost savings
  • Repair turnaround time
  • Safety
  • Maintenance management improvement