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Advanced Shipboard Mission Payload Handling System


OBJECTIVE: The objective is to develop a remotely operated, mobile shipboard mission payload handling system common to the Littoral Combat system (LCS) seaframes. DESCRIPTION: The Navy Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) are light weight/high speed vessels that are designed to perform a variety of missions, currently including Mine warfare, (MW), Surface Warfare (SW), and Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW). Reference (1), slide 4, provides a graphic representation of the following description of Mission Packages, Mission Modules, and mission payload. Mission Packages, developed to execute specific missions, include Mission Modules. Mission Packages also include support aircraft. The Mission Modules are loaded onto the two classes of LCS seaframes: Freedom and Independence. Mission Modules include unmanned sea vehicles, and support equipment, including ISO twenty foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers and flat racks. A flat rack is an ISO container base without walls or top. Mission payloads, the focus of this topic, are stored within ISO support containers or on flat racks. Payloads are sensors, such as the AQS-20A towed sonar, or similar equipment. When an operation in support of a mission is to be carried out at sea, payloads are moved from their stowage place in an ISO container or flat rack to the place of use. When the operation is complete, the payload is returned. Payloads may also be moved for repair or maintenance. Safe, efficient movement of payloads is critical to being able to meet mission requirements without damage to materiel or injury to personnel. The list of payloads that needs to be handled is not static. New payloads for current missions and for future missions are highly likely to be developed. Payloads can be of different shapes, such as rectangular or tubular. Some are lifted from the bottom, and others are picked up from the top. The goal of this topic is to develop a remotely operated, mobile, adaptable and upgradable system that can be used to handle a variety of payloads under one ton on both seaframes, that can compensate for limitations of the currently used handling systems, and which includes basic automatic fault detection, isolation and recovery (FDIR) capability. The current commercial payload handling systems on the LCS seaframes were selected to be compatible with specific seaframe designs and features. The current systems are: pallet jacks, used on both seaframe variants; fork truck, used on the Independence variant; overhead gantry crane, used on the Freedom variant. These technologies do not provide a common, cost effective payload handling system common to the seaframe variants and adaptable to handling a variety of payloads. These handling systems are able to transport payloads within the ship, from container or flat rack to point of use and back, but are not compatible with all LCS handling system objectives, in particular: the ability to maneuver payloads within tight space constraints when in close proximity to the ISO containers and mission vehicles; the ability to position payloads inside the containers; and the ability to adapt to evolving Mission Package configurations. These limitations result in time consuming and labor intensive operations to transfer payloads. Additionally, supporting three separate payload handling systems that perform one function is inefficient. The use of multiple mission payload handling systems increases crew training requirements and logistic support costs. If one of the three systems fails, currently no backup is available. Providing at least two advanced payload handling systems per ship will create desirable redundancy to circumvent this problem. While, ideally, the desired system would replace the three currently used handling systems, in reality, in some situations, the advanced handling system could hand off or pick up a payload to or from one those systems. A flexible payload handling system would keep the need for such exchanges to a minimum. The system should be low cost to produce, maintain, and modify for operation on the two LCS seaframes with their Mission Packages. Reference (2) points out those limitations similar to those of the three currently used handling systems exist for Navy-wide shipboard cargo movement in the handling and breakout of containers and in the labor intensive requirements for rigging. Reference (3) indicates that commercial automated, material handling systems are often considered to be too inflexible to be easily reconfigurable and adaptable because reconfiguration is time consuming and expensive with functionality being spread over several networks (e.g., electrical, mechanical, information), each of which must be changed individually. In commercial shipping, packing and unpacking items from containers or flat racks is not done in the constrained shipboard environment characteristic of the LCS seaframes; therefore commercial systems do not provide the capability required to handle Mission Package payloads. The innovation required for this topic is to develop a payload handling system that is 1) compact and maneuverable within seaframe access ways/clearances; 2) highly reconfigurable to be compatible with the payloads of current and future Mission Package systems; 3) able to reach into ISO containers and in and around mission vehicles with minimal impact from obstructions; and 4) lightweight to be compatible with seaframe decks and overall shipboard weight requirements. A key challenge is coming up with a design for a high strength-to-weight ratio system to minimize deflections during lifts. Developing the desired handling system involves several considerations, which include the following: (1) The system should have commonality to both LCS-1 and LCS-2 seaframes. (2) The system should contain its power source and be remotely operated by one person. (3) For safe operations, the basic FDIR capability should identify the location of a fault and shut the system down if necessary. (4) For minimal impact on overall ship weight, the system should weigh less than 1500 pounds and should have a deck load of less than 150 pounds per square inch when carrying a payload. (5) The system should be adaptable to different"maps"of the mission bay space with their payload lift and drop locations, which depend on individual mission package configurations. (6) The system should operate within close clearances that constrain maneuverability. It should be able to maneuver to all locations at the front of a container and around the payload destinations. Reference (3) provides additional information that companies should consider in developing an advanced payload handling system that meets the objectives of this topic. Future spiral development of the payload handling system is envisioned to include real-time inventory capability that includes location identification, optimization and control of inventory, and synchronization with on-board inventory systems. Complexity of FDIR will increase with the progression toward an autonomously functioning, robotic, mission payload handling system. These developments will not be funded under Phase I or II and, once developed may be provided by the Government or by commercial sources. Their possibility should be taken into account in designing the system. For example, space should be allocated for additional microprocessors. PHASE I: The company will develop concepts for an advanced mission payload handling system that meet the objectives outlined above. The company must demonstrate the feasibility of the concept. Modeling and simulation should be used to establish feasibility. Establish and assess the trade-offs made in developing the concepts. Provide a final concept for an advanced shipboard mission payload handling system. The small business will develop a Phase II development plan that includes key technical milestones and will address technical risk reduction. PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan and a review of existing shipboard installations configurations, the company will develop a full-scale, or near full-scale, prototype shipboard mission payload handling system. The system"s performance will be evaluated in land based tests and simulated shipboard environment against the Navy performance goals using simulated full-scale or near-full scale mission modules and payloads. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Navy requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use. PHASE III: If the Phase II effort is successful, the company will develop a ruggedized preproduction handling system. The company will be expected to support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. In coordination with the Navy, the company will support full-scale shipboard evaluations to determine handling system effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use. The company will provide a final design and fabricate initial units to be integrated on LCS seaframes via the LCS engineering change process. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The shipboard mission payload handling system will have industry applicability due to its light weight and compatibility with ISO commercial standards, which would facilitate handling materiel and payload in austere locations. Additionally, it should be applicable to other Navy Programs which may utilize ISO containers (e.g. JHSV Program) and to other DoD organizations (Army and Marine Corps) that utilize ISO containers in austere locations. REFERENCES: 1. Whitfield, Cecil; Volkert, Richard; Jackson, Carly."Navy Warfare Centers as Lead System Integrators: Lessons Learned from Mission Module Development."13th Annual NDIA Systems Engineering Conference, 27 October 2010. downloaded 15Apr12 2. Furmans, Kai; Schonung, Frank; and Gue, Kevin R."Plug-and-Work Material Handling Systems,"11th International Material Handling Research Colloquium, 2010. 3."Technology Roadmap Meeting the Shipboard Internal Cargo Movement Challenge Consensus Recommendations of the U.S. Shipbuilding Industry"National Shipbuilding Research Program, NSRP Report #AMT-RG01112-4001;, section 3.4. 4."Information Applicable to the Development of An Advanced Mission Payload Handing System for LCS Seaframes,"Document to be provided on SITIS after Pre-release.
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