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Submarines can be built efficiently in Australia

Chairman of thyssenkrupp Marine Systems Australia, Dr. John White has questioned newspaper headlines that Australia lacks the required engineering and technical skills to build Australia’s next generation of submarines.

thyssenkrupp Marine Systems is one of three bidders taking part in the Federal Government’s Competitive Evaluation Process for Future Submarines now being evaluated by the Department of Defence.

“Headlines in the last 24 hours have suggested a significant skills gap exists as a concern for Australian industry’s ability  to build submarines in this country – with major investment needed in re-training to enable Australia to start the design and build process,” Dr. White said.

“With the downturn in the mining and resources industries and the impending closure of car manufacturing in 2017, there is a wealth of skilled engineering and technical people available. We closely investigated Australia’s heavy engineering capability over the last year and are confident the skills and workforce can meet the demands of the submarine build, provided they are supported by experienced management oversight, specialised training and accurate design and production data.”

“During last year’s CEP process we met more than 500 Australian companies with a wide variety of technical and engineering skills to offer, many of whom have now entered our global supply chain." As is always the case when looking into Australian industrial capability there were some surprises. World leading pump designs and welding technology at the highest level and an array of other world leading capabilities. thyssenkrupp has been in Australia a long time and our local engineers support our recent survey findings – Australia is more than capable of building the nations submarines.

One only has to look at the mega scale developments of Australia’s natural resources to come to the conclusion there is nothing this country can’t do if it gets the right partners involved.

Dr. White said state-of-the-art digital shipbuilding systems have evolved over the past five years to overcome the traditional difficulties of transferring technology from one industrial environment to another.

“Germany is a leader in the digital manufacturing revolution and has developed world-leading software used by companies such as Electric Boat, Newport News Shipbuilding and thyssenkrupp Marine Systems to deliver modern submarines.”

“thyssenkrupp Marine Systems has a proven integrated product development and support environment (IDPSE) that significantly reduces concerns about skills gaps, data errors and misinterpretation, and the other technology transfer issues that have plagued some previous Australian naval ship-building projects.  thyssenkrupp has engaged with

Australian industry, its workforce representatives, and training, education and research institutions – and held extensive discussions concerning required skills development and productivity.” 

“With this broad-based support and our vast submarine export, technology transfer and local-build experience, we are adamant Australia has the skills and commitment to build submarines here in a similar pattern to the successful ANZAC Frigate project.  Australians can actually exceed the benchmarks set in overseas submarine building yards.”

"It is our demonstrated use of digital data management in the integrated product development and support environment (IPDSE) that gives us full confidence to be able to develop the modern shipyard infrastructure required, transfer technology and design as well as the advanced production processes to achieve a successful Australian submarine build."

“In fact we recently transmitted digital design data from our shipyard in Kiel to a very capable pressure vessel manufacturer in Australia who fabricated with modern digitally controlled production techniques, to the highest standards, a demonstration section of a submarine hull." In fact it is our common practice to transfer ship and submarine digital data between build sites.

"Based on my long personal experience in Australian resources, offshore oil and gas, manufacturing and shipbuilding industries, and leading the German bid for the Australian Future Submarine program, I have no doubt that the Australian skilled workforce, combined with the best manufacturing capabilities, means all submarines can be designed and built right here in Australia. We’re very confident that if we are successful we can get the job done," Dr. White concluded.

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