Going Paperless: How Digital Weld Records Can Upgrade Navy Shipyards

A recent project explored bringing paperless technology to weld reporting in Navy shipyards. The goal was to optimize records by creating digital versions that align with naval specifications. EWI and software developer TRU teamed up to tackle this challenge.

After lots of discovery and feedback from participating shipyards (Fincantieri Marinette Marine, a new build yard, and Vigor, a repair yard), TRU Solutions digitized their paper reports and made them available on iPad and Web platforms, streamlining weld records. Based on the shipyards’ input, they also refined several reports including those for Non-Destructive Testing, Visual Inspections, and First Pass Yield. The system consolidated paperwork and automated workflows, produced reports meeting naval criteria, and allowed data sharing through summaries.

Ultrasonic Test Report 10

Benefits of the digital approach include:

  • Increased transparency of inspection to the welding process 
  • Improved efficiency of weld requirement validation and deployment efforts 
  • Automated weld requirement and record data available to decision-makers for assessment in Business Intelligence Tools and to refine process
  • Archived weld requirements and record data for future use
  • Reduced daily costs and save engineers and inspectors time 

Through workshops with shipbuilders, the team mapped out current workflows and requirements. TRU then developed features like auto-population from dropdowns to simplify data entry. Data is captured in the online app, but if the connection is interrupted, the app still works offline and syncs when online again. Records can be exported to PDF for Objective Quality Evidence (OQE)

Testing at shipyards provided valuable feedback for refinements. Users saw big potential in reducing steps and errors. The instant availability of data was a major perk. Builders estimated 10-15 minutes saved per report on-site. Even bigger time savings were expected from eliminating post-inspection data entry.

TRU Ultrasonic Test Report Signed

The streamlined approach looked to provide ROI through:

  • Faster report creation
  • Less rework and fewer defects
  • Easy access to records during audits

The project concluded digital weld records enhance efficiency and transparency. To fully realize the benefits, continued coordination with shipbuilders will be key and we’re confident that digital, optimized weld records hold great potential in modernizing paper-based systems! 

Results from NSRP:

At the National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP), quantified time savings included 15 minutes per individual inspection, equivalent to 7.5 saved hours daily for the inspection process. The streamlined sign-off procedures saved 25 minutes per instance, while each rework inspection took 10-20 minutes less time.

Client Testimonial: 

“Maximizing inspection time and minimizing desk time was the ultimate goal for our participation in this project.  Now we have been able to give our inspection teams the ability to create reports through the Weld software instead of spending additional time at the end of a shift creating reports and this has proven to be very efficient beyond initial expectations. Also, having the ability to automate the collection of our First Pass Yield data and provide detailed reports to our Executive Team has been a tremendous bonus, and the creativity of the TRU team is greatly appreciated in making this function a reality”.

– Lindsay Docherty, Director of Quality at Vigor Marine

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