Jul 22, 2011

Converging Technologies from Mechdyne Provide Manufacturing Savings for Lockheed Martin

Advanced technologies from Mechdyne Corporation are helping Lockheed Martin's Space Systems Company realize significant manufacturing time and cost savings with a new virtual reality lab the company calls the "Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory" (CHIL).

"This exciting new facility allows us to create a design virtually, before we create it physically," explains Jeff Smith, the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company's director of Special Projects. "This process of working with a design in a virtual stage allows us to improve the affordability of our products and associated processes. It's changing the way we design and build our products across their entire lifecycle."

The CHIL, which is located at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company's headquarters in Littleton, Colo., enables engineers and technicians to validate, test, and understand products and processes virtually, before investing in the costs of creating them physically. The result helps improve every stage of a program, from the concept phase to the operations and sustainment phase. Using the technologies integrated in the CHIL, Lockheed Martin engineers can:

Optimize and validate processes virtually, before releasing them to manufacturing
Identify bottlenecks, collisions, and workflow issues before they happen
Improve resource utilization, material flow, and minimize design changes later in the design cycle
Enhance team collaboration and understanding
Enrich training and work instruction
Reduce, rework, and mitigate program risk

When designing the CHIL, Mechdyne integrated a variety of technologies, including: a versatile Mechdyne FLEX™ virtual environment; a motion capture system for up to four users; a portable Mechdyne Rapid Operational Virtual Reality (ROVR™) immersive system that can be easily moved to any Lockheed Martin location, supplier or customer site; technology that enables the ROVR to display or transmit images and simulations and send them to and from the CHIL to other sites for collaborative design reviews; a spherical video camera that collects photos and video to enhance the realism of virtual simulations; and a complete simulation software toolkit that enables translation capabilities for CAD designs.

"The technologies integrated in the CHIL are just one example of how Mechdyne is providing outstanding return on investment for organizations who are interested in leveraging today's technologies to improve their bottom line," says Mike Hancock, Vice President for Mechdyne. "The advances in immersive and IT technologies are converging at an amazing pace. Mechdyne is unique in our depth of skill and experience to harness the potential of technology and mold it into a solution that delivers customers a strong return on investment specific to their needs."

For example, Lockheed Martin is using the CHIL technologies to improve affordability on a variety of programs, including next generation government satellite programs and NASA's Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. The CHIL can be applied to a range of space systems, including satellites, exploration spacecraft, launch vehicles and missile defense systems.

The technologies incorporated in the CHIL have resulted in a unique, collaborative simulation environment in which hardware designs and manufacturing processes can be fine tuned before production or development begins. The high tech design lab also allows engineers to identify risk and increase efficiencies early in the product development stage, when the cost, risk, and time associated with making modifications is much lower.