Although getting lost at work isn’t an issue for most people, experts at BAE Systems working on the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers have created the system – called Platform Navigation – to assist them in navigating the unprecedented scale and complexity of the ships, where even routine journeys can take up to 20 minutes, increasing efficiency and safety on board. Conventional satellite navigation cannot penetrate the ships’ structure, and with very few windows, a new innovation was needed.
Each of the carriers has more than 3,000 compartments spread across 12 decks and new visitors to the construction environment always require a guide. One of the carriers, HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, is now structurally complete at 56 metres tall – which is higher than the Niagara Falls – while her length of 280 metres is greater than three football pitches.
Platform Navigation sees employees using an encrypted application to scan one of 3,600 QR codes located at compartment entrances, before typing in their destination on the carrier and having the application display the best route. The app can be used on existing mobile devices.
Mick Ord, Managing Director at BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: “These are the largest and most powerful warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy so we need to keep finding smarter, safer and more efficient ways of working. Platform Navigation is a truly innovative device as it provides greater visibility within complex environments so that employees can concentrate on the task in hand, which for us means delivering the nation’s flagships.”
Platform Navigation is expected to become an invaluable part of engineers’ toolkits on HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS PRINCE OF WALES because it can find the fastest safe route through complex indoor environments. The device also has the potential to be used inside other large ships and structures, both during and after construction – its ability to record inspections and patrols making it ideally suited for complex environments like hospitals or underground transport networks.
The system is primarily designed for new starters and infrequent visitors to the ship who would otherwise need a guide, but even an experienced employee would be challenged when a regular route is blocked or when they need to locate a less frequently visited compartment.
The Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers – the HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS PRINCE OF WALES – are to be the Royal Navy’s largest ever warships upon completion, and are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a unique partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the UK Ministry of Defence.