Signal invests $40m in Orange, TX shipyard; Building ATBs currently for Kirby Ocean Tranporation Co.
A ubiquitous presence in the Gulf of Mexico ship construction and repair market is Mobile, Ala.-based Signal International, a Marine and Fabrication company which employs about 1800 in its four production facilities across Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. Signal specializes in new construction, ship repair, and rig repair.
Signal can handle marine construction and repair needs with three dry docks; Dry Dock 1 is Panamax size with a lift capacity of 22,000 tons; Dry Dock 2 has a 4500t lift capacity and the Dual Carrier, a heavy lift dry dock, boasts a 400 x 200 ft. footprint with a lift capacity of 30,000 tons. Signal offers both offshore and technical services such as leg-up, quarters mods, platform installations and 3D modeling and 3D laser scanning.
Signal is currently building two ATBs for Kirby Ocean Transport Company (KOTC) in Orange, Texas. The 488 x 90 x 36 ft. barges will use the Articouple coupling system to connect to ocean tugs, which are also being built by the Orange shipyard. The vessels have been designed by Robert Hill and Ocean Tug & Barge Engineering Corp., and the 6,000 hp tugs will each measure 125 x 42 x 22 ft., powered by two EMD 12-710 main engines with Reintjes reduction gears, outfitted with Nautican nozzles and triple rudders. The tugs are classed to ABS Maltese Cross, +A1 Ocean Towing Service standards. The barges are based on Ocean Tug & Barge’s Costwise Class AT/B barges, designed to reduce resistance and enhance maneuvering. In particular, the stern design of the barges is the result of extensive model testing and CFD studies.
Signal made a strategic decision over three years ago to close its overhaul and repair yards in Texas and concentrate on new construction at its Orange shipyard using modular construction and world-class manufacturing techniques. This decision resulted in an investment of about $40 million and a complete revamping of the Orange yard, which sits on 80 acres and has almost 500,000 sq. ft. (46,452 sq. m.) of covered building halls and shops.
The core of the effort is a formal Continuous Improvement Program based on Lean Manufacturing principles. Changing the workflow and a complete rethinking of how to reduce costs and improve schedules with no sacrifice in safety or quality was undertaken by our Industrial Engineering Department and the workers themselves.
Virtually all aspects of Signal’s engineering, procurement and manufacturing processes were affected.
The general term we use for the new process is Continuous Flow Manufacturing.
The Pascagoula East Yard has similar investments to improve automation as well as dredging a deep hole 500 x 300 x 60 ft. deep dockside.
Signal Ship Repair in Mobile, AL has recertified its Panamax floating dry dock, made quayside improvements and added new Administration, Estimating, Personnel and Port Engineer offices.
(As published in the August 2012 edition of Maritime Reporter - www.marinelink.com)