NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) Fiber Optics Subject Matter Expert (SME)/Instructor Christopher Nocon toured the four public shipyards with the Mobile Implementation Team (MIT) March 12-16, where he hand-delivered and showcased his fiber optic work station innovation.
Originally developed in 2012, Nocon said he got the idea for the new work station while working on upgrades for submarines. "When I was working on making upgrades and installs on the submarines, I was finding the fiber optic work being done was not going at an efficient speed. I'm constantly working on innovating what I do so I created a work station that was able to double the amount of ST Optics being worked on at a time. This streamlined my efforts on the job. In addition, it was able to turn a four-person job into a one-person job, providing an estimated savings of $50,000."
Nocon's design was a gutted pelican briefcase that he created a racking system inside, setting up a plate where he would build the optics.
"The original design was developed on my kitchen counter as a way to improve my job and it's become a huge asset to our shipyard," said Nocon. "It was a huge innovation for us and we were able to get the funding to create five boxes at NNSY. It's used by our technicians and is based on an assembly line process and I'm amazed at just how much easier it has made our job."
NNSY was able to utilize the product, however, Nocon noted it was difficult to bring the idea to those outside the shipyard. "I wasn't sure of how to classify the innovation or share it with the other shipyards. Then, during a peer review, I was on a job on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and I had my work station with me. NAVSEA Deputy Commander for Logistics, Maintenance, and Industrial Operations Rear Admiral Stephen Williamson was coming through and stopped in his tracks to watch me work and learn about the device. With his help, the MIT reached out to me and we were able to get the funding in place to create more boxes to be hand-delivered to the other shipyards."
Nocon joined NNSY Rapid Prototype Center Manager Martrail Parker and NAVSEA 04X Tactical Implementation Manager Susie Simms on the MIT tour in March, bringing the developed work stations to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii. Nocon had previously visited Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington before the tour and was able to personally deliver a work station while meeting with other SMEs regarding fiber optics.
"We traveled in the span of a week and I found working with the MIT was a dynamic discovery," said Nocon. "The team takes your product and elevates it to be seen by many. They cover the funding for development, and take the producers of innovations to the other shipyards so we can personally showcase those innovations and work with our counterparts there on how to use the devices. It was an extraordinary experience that I never thought would be possible when I first developed the work station in my kitchen. Overall, those we visited were very engaged during the demonstrations and provided their own input for how to continue to innovate the work station. It was an impressive experience that I'm thankful I got to be part of."
The MIT continues to bring innovative discoveries to the four shipyards and beyond with folks like Nocon able to showcase their designs in hopes to improve service to the fleet. Nocon noted that he hopes his story can help inspire others to seek out more innovative solutions to better the day-to-day operations and provide a safer and more efficient shipyard. "Without innovation, we can't progress," he said. "It is professional creativity that is able to spread everywhere from the office environment down to the technologies we use. And even something that seems so small from our perspective can create a massive amount of savings across the board. We are lucky to have groups like the Rapid Prorotype Center and the MIT to be used as avenues to take those visions and make them a reality."
Nocon is thankful to all who helped make this a reality and providing support, including Parker, Simms, Virginia Jordan, Mike Davenport, Brittany Clark, Antonio Smalls, and the management team at Code 950.
"I feel like our tour couldn't have come at a better time," said Nocon. "We as a shipyard are creating a corporate plan to self-certify fiber optics for a cost savings of $10 million at a 93 percent savings rate that will span across all four shipyards. During the tour, I was able to meet with the other SMEs and learn what they were working with at their shipyards. It's a huge endeavor and a huge win for the Navy and I'm very happy to be part of it."
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