Published May 15, 2018
I stumbled across an article this morning discussing US Army’s research into how to reduce aircraft maintenance – significantly. The goal, according to staff at the Army Research Laboratory, is to create maintenance free aircraft.
Think about that for a moment.
According to the author, the Army spends nearly 60% of funds for a given air platform on “maintenance and sustainment.” For example, the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, built by Sikorsky and part of the ARL’s research, undergoes scheduled maintenance every 10 flying hours and then again at 40, 360 and 720 hours regardless of necessity. The process, they say, is not sustainable.
Now, the Army, as well as Marine Corp. and other branches are doing additional research into how to make the process more efficient. One idea gaining traction is the use of acoustical sensors monitoring conditions on the aircraft and using wi-fi networks in maintenance hangers to accelerate parts ordering.
Of course, the idea has critics, and rightfully so. But the process is similar to the evolution of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIot). In our world of MRO supply chain management, IIoT continues to gain momentum in application, connecting production assets and sharing data in real time that enables better decision making. When a production asset demonstrates signs of failing – through vibration analysis, overheating, or something else – such information can be shared using IIoT, alerting operations and maintenance of the pending failure, who can then react accordingly to plan maintenance work, order necessary spare parts, schedule team members and more.
It’s coming and it’s just a matter of when.
Read the full article on the Army Research Laboratory here.