BAE Systems Maritime Australia’s latest innovation challenge provided Australian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) the chance to propose novel digital safety technologies and applications for manual handling, extraction and ventilation, and wearables for safety around a shipyard environment.
Following a competitive evaluation process, three SMEs were selected, namely:
  • Cohda Wireless to trial an innovative, proximity threat detection platform between shipyard personnel and moving plant equipment and vehicles. This trial is designed to protect employees from collision injury.
  • MyModular to demonstrate a very low voltage lighting solution designed to be used during construction within ship compartments that incorporates sensors that will alert employees if air quality is compromised or temperatures are rising too high.
  • Electrocad to demonstrate an integrated wearable body sensor solution that provide real time feedback to the user to reduce manual handling injuries within ship compartments, including handling loads, awkward positions and repetition of activities.
The three companies will test and demonstrate their technologies at the Pilot Line Zero, Factory of the Future facility, located within the Tonsley Innovation District in Adelaide.
“Safety is our number one priority and any new technologies we can implement to keep our workers safe, reduce injuries and risk, are absolutely worth pursuing,” said Craig Lockhart, Managing Director of BAE Systems Maritime Australia. 
“Our work at Tonsley, in collaboration with Flinders University and an increasing number of innovative Australian businesses, is a real game changer for shipbuilding. I am looking forward to understanding the outcomes of the trials undertaken by Cohda Wireless, MyModular and Electrocad.” Craig Lockhart, Managing Director, BAE Systems Maritime Australia
These solutions may continue into future development and testing phases to deliver a mature solution that maybe applied in the Osborne Naval Shipyard to support the workers dedicated to the Hunter Class Frigate Program, which will deliver nine of the world’s most advanced anti-submarine warfare frigates to the Royal Australian Navy.
BAE Systems Maritime Australia Head of Safety Health and Environment (SHE) John Galvin said a significant contributor to fatalities in the workplace was a failure to segregate pedestrians from mobile vehicles.
“It is critical we have a mechanism with some form of warning for our people so they can stay out of harm’s way while working in the shipyard,” he said.
Cohda Wireless Chief Executive Officer Paul Gray said the company would prove that its Locate technology could be applied to “just about any environment where people and vehicles share common operating space”.
“We are delighted to be extending the work we’ve already completed at pilot Line Zero, especially as the ultimate goal is to make the naval shipyard a safer environment for people,” he said.
John Galvin said the development of ventilation extraction technology was essential with a shift in industry in areas such as welding fume management, where the emphasis was on improving the level of protection for employees when welding and other employees working in the vicinity of welding.
“This technology would provide real-time feedback that enables us to understand the exposure workers are subject to in the shipyard and ensure that any hazardous situations are avoided before exposure occurs,” John said.
Mark Fahey, Managing Director at MyModular, said the innovation challenge was potentially transformational for the company as it worked towards creating a low voltage lighting and sensor solution.
“We’ve developed extra low voltage lighting (ELV) solutions for other clients but the next step is to make the platform smarter. Introducing the data component on top of the ELV means we need to layer it on a common platform which also needs to be plug and play and operate at a safe voltage,” he said.
Twenty five per cent of all injuries that have occurred on recent shipbuilding programs are due to sprain or strain injuries from manual handling, repetitive tasks and awkward postures. John Galvin said industry needed to find a way to mitigate injuries with real time feedback so employees can learn and adjust their body position to avoid injury.
“The data will enable us to re-engineer the work front so these injuries are preventable” he said.
Electrocad Australia Managing Director John Schulz said developing an integrated sensor solution for the Innovation Challenge offered the company an opportunity to grow its presence in Defence industry.
“The technology we will trial is a combination of technologies and includes Ultra-Wide Band (UWB), Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and micro radar,” he said.
“Some of the technologies used are very recently arrivals on the market and will allow us to produce a unique, leading edge solution, for combining indoor navigation and body wearable sensor networks.”

The Innovation team at BAE Systems Maritime Australia is seeking expressions of interest from Australian businesses to investigate technology, materials, processes and capabilities that will benefit the Hunter Class Frigate Program. Check out: 

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