Aussie Submarines Dive Into Underwater DX

Digital transformation is making a huge difference in manufacturing--especially in the building of submarines.

Publicly-owned shipbuilder the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) is about to start on an AUD 50 billion program of building new submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. But it will embark on a new program of digital transformation first.

The first phase of the digital transformation program will involve Accenture. They will help to scope the program and understand the current context at ASC, which was founded in Adelaide in 1985 to build the Navy’s current generation of submarines.

The program is also expected to impact on the companies in the ASC supply chain, which number in the hundreds. It is likely to change the way they exchange information with the ASC and, in some cases, will drive other digital transformation programs right through the supply chain.

The transformation will likely lead to the implementation of new user interfaces based on virtual and augmented reality technologies. The goal is to boost productivity and introduce more data analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Australia also awarded an AUD 50 billion contract to the French company DCNS (renamed Naval Group) to build 12 new submarines in collaboration with the ASC.

Meanwhile, the Australian Navy is about to embark on an AUD 90 billion refitting, the largest in its history. ASC’s digital transformation program is a first step in making sure that it is well prepared.

The program will affect all areas of ASC’s submarine and shipbuilding businesses and extend to the sustainment work that it does on the older Collins Class submarines that are still in service.

ASC chief executive Stuart Whiley said the digital project will enhance the shipbuilder’s ability to innovate and find better ways of conducting its work.

“Following several years of reform and improvement across our operations, this digital transformation will further challenge the status quo, leading to further cultural change and creating opportunities for major improvements,” Whiley said.

“This is an exciting time for ASC as it continues to find ways to improve, innovate and engage the latest in technology and systems.”

The shipbuilding program is also of vital political importance in Australia. The Government in Canberra designated South Australia as a major shipbuilding hub to shore up a faltering manufacturing base.

Adelaide was home to Australia’s now-defunct car manufacturing industry, and a parallel push is underway to retrain auto workers to be part of the shipbuilding industry supply chain.