Australian technology supporting Hunter class frigates

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South Australia’s Cohda Wireless was one of 4 Australian companies chosen from an “innovation challenge” to help fast track manufacturing processes to support the Hunter Class Frigate Program (HCFP). 

Through Hunter, BAE Systems Australia will build nine of the world’s most advanced anti-submarine warfare frigates for the Royal Australian Navy, known as the ‘Hunter class’. 

Cohda Wireless learned of the opportunity to be involved through the ICN Gateway subscription, receiving updates on the HCFP via email and by attending industry briefings where they were introduced to the project leads. Cohda Wireless responded to an EOI on Gateway. 

BAE Systems’ first ‘innovation challenge’ was a digital shipyard ‘track-and-trace’ program held at Line Zero – Pilot Factory of the Future, a partnership with Flinders University that is located within the Tonsley Innovation District, in Adelaide’s south.  

At Tonsley, BAE Systems is investing in research and technology and collaborating with academics, researchers and small and medium enterprises to develop, test and trial advanced manufacturing processes and techniques. 

The innovation challenges are designed to ensure the best Australian technologies will support and deliver safety, quality and efficiencies to the build Program. Cohda Wireless is a global leader in the development of connected vehicles and connected autonomous vehicle software with proven applications for smart city, mining and other environments.  

Its track-and-trace solution is an Australian-developed and -built positioning system with hardware, software, and firmware are wholly designed and developed in Adelaide. The work with BAE Systems was aimed at translating proprietary technology, developed for the mining, into the defence sector. 

During the pilot, Cohda Wireless installed and demonstrated its Real Time Location Services (RTLS) system to track assets and improve worker safety. The system enables the sub-metre accurate 3D location of people and tools, through Wi-Fi tags, in the complex shipyard environment. 

The results showed sub-metre positioning performance at the 95th percentile, proving the proposed solution was well suited for the purpose of asset tracking in the shipyard environment, and any like environment. 

“We are translating our mining product from the underground mines into a shipyard to allow us to be able to track both assets and personal through the shipyard,” Cohda Wireless CEO Dr Paul Gray said. 

“I think this challenge provides for us new markets for our existing products.” 

And it’s not just assets that are being tracked and traced; the Cohda technology uses 3D positioning information to improve worker safety, giving BAE systems the opportunity to improve worker safety in a shipyard. 

Following the success of the track and trace pilot, BAE Systems invited Cohda to trial the same technology to track people as part of an initiative to make its Osborne Naval Shipyard a safer environment for workers. 

Paul Gray said he was delighted to be extending the work his company was doing at Pilot Line Zero. 

“Cohda Wireless is a leader in connected vehicle technology and through pioneering projects like this one, we are proving that our locate technology can be applied to just about any environment where people and vehicles share common operating space,” he said. 

Go to the company website for more information on Cohda Wireless. 

As part of the HCFP BAE Systems is working closely with ICN to identify local suppliers. They are using Gateway to promote HCFP presentations and supply chain updates, as well as communicate with suppliers and build sovereign capability. 

Flinders University Pro Vice-Chancellor (research Innovation) Professor John Spoehr said the focus on collaborative research and training at the Factory of the future is designed to maximise engagement with South Australian companies, by providing opportunities in the shipbuilding industry. 

“Flinders University welcomes Cohda Wireless as an innovation challenge partner trialing technologies improving worker safety in a shipyard environment. The university is aware of the endless potential applications of their autonomous technology, developed in South Australia, having collaborated on the FLEX driverless bus pilot at our Tonsley campus and we look forward to harnessing our research expertise to now advance its application in shipbuilding activities.” 

The Hunter program is currently in the prototyping phase, which involves building representative ship blocks and extensively testing and refining the processes, systems, tools, facilities and workforce competencies, which will provide a solid operational foundation ahead of ship 01 construction. 

According to the BAE Systems Gateway page, the company is continuing to engage with Australian industry to maximise Australian industrial capability. It has awarded dozens of contracts to Australian businesses as it tests and matures supply chain solutions. 

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