New Induction Coating Removal System Developed

Friday, February 29, 2008
By Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Public Affairs Shipyard workers from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard have implemented an induction coating removal process that has reduced work execution costs and resulted in a safer work environment. Based on four available induction coating removal machines with trained personnel, this process has a potential cost avoidance of $655,000 per submarine availability and $2,620,000 per carrier availability. Once again Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has used Lean Manufacturing to improve productivity and reduce the Navy’s maintenance costs.

Plastic Fabricator Tom Gardner has first-hand knowledge of the cost and time savings involved with the use of the induction coating removal process. He referred to one particular job saying, “The amount of non-skid we removed in nine hours with induction heat would have normally taken a couple of weeks using a knuckle-buster (chipping gun),” he said. “This process is much cleaner and safer for the workers and the environment.”

This Lean process has been successfully tested on applications such as hull treatment residue, non-skid, and rubber. This process will also be effective in greatly reducing the costs and time scheduled for preservation work to the exterior hull of submarines during maintenance periods. The use of this new technology significantly reduces the setup time----the removal of the old coating system from metallic surfaces as compared to the conventional removal methods using sandblasting or needle gunning. Richard Beaudoin, veteran plastic fabricator, was thrilled with the ergonomic benefits. “The induction process is very effective in reducing costs and time in job related injuries like carpel tunnel, which is a common problem in workers who use repetitive motion equipment,” said Beaudoin.

The process uses an induction generator where alternating current is sent through an induction coil that generates an electro-magnetic field. This magnetic field induces eddy currents in a conductive material like steel. The eddy currents in the steel are inhibited by the resistance of the steel; this resistance converts the electromagnetic energy to thermal, causing induction heating. Induction heats only the surface of the steel leaving the coating on the reverse side unaffected. Induction heat is very effective in chipping away hard to remove thick elastic coatings that are traditionally removed with pneumatic hand tools. This process results in execution of work that is in most cases twice as fast as traditional methods and does not expose mechanics to the ergonomic and noise hazards associated with the use of the pneumatics.

Recently, Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead personally operated the induction coating removal equipment at the shipyard. This process has the potential to have an impact throughout the Navy and achieve process efficiencies and cost savings.

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