An Australian business that provided an autonomous robotic abrasive blast solution for the Sydney Harbour Bridge has been engaged by BAE Systems Maritime Australia to showcase its innovative technology for the Hunter Class Frigate Program.

Recent robotic blast trials at Sydney based Burwell Technologies’ aim to understand, explore and evaluate the operation, capability, opportunities, and limitations of the equipment in a confined space shipbuilding environment, and will inform technology planning in the Hunter program’s prototyping phase with the fundamental aim to improve efficiency and worker safety in the shipyard.

Blast trials took place in one of four large modules that BAE Systems Maritime Australia had constructed to support the Hunter program’s prototyping phase. The six-metre modules resemble ship blocks, and have similar features including bulkhead doors, manholes, hatches, passageways and confined spaces. The prototyping phase aims to establish and test the systems, processes, facilities and workforce competencies, providing a solid operational foundation before construction starts on the first frigate next year.

Burwell Technologies’ collaboration with BAE Systems Maritime Australia is the first time the Sydney-based business has worked with an Australian defence company.

BAE Systems Maritime Australia Global Combat Ship Manufacturing Director Alastair Bacon said: “We are delivering digital shipbuilding in a way that has never before been done in this country – in particular we are seeking to apply a number of technologies from adjacent sectors such as robotics and industry 4.0. We know that technology and manufacturing capability will evolve across the three batches of Hunter class frigates, and it’s vital that we continue to look at new ways of working and advanced and innovative manufacturing methods, which will improve productivity, quality and safety outcomes at the state-of-the-art shipyard at Osborne.”

Chief Operating Officer Burwell Technologies, and CEO Sabre Autonomous Solutions Damian Williams said: “Through our investment in Sabre Autonomous Solutions and its robotic blast technology, we are striving to ensure that we remain on the forefront of industry technological advancements. This technology ensures, first and foremost, that humans no longer have to carry out blasting within confined spaces, such as those commonly found on ships. We are extremely excited at the prospect of working with BAE Systems Maritime Australia and utilising our technology on the Hunter Class Frigate Program, with our goal to deploy robotic blast technology into Australian Defence programs and beyond.”


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