Agile, Wireless-enabled Workflows for Ship Manufacturing & Repair (AWSM™)

The AWSM™ technology represents a new paradigm for ship manufacturing that redesigns manufacturing processes and uses computing and wireless technologies to deliver information–activity statuses, resource availability, design and scheduling changes–to every user, work crew, or process involved in the project.

A central challenge in any large-scale manufacturing environment is to effectively adjust to production and procurement glitches that ripple across and continually threaten manufacturing schedules. The ship manufacturing industry is no exception. With manufacturing projects that stretch over years and involve numerous divisions, materials, facilities, and manpower, how can U.S. shipyards achieve the kind of proactive flexibility needed to develop and maintain the most efficient and cost effective production schedules?

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Intelligent Asset Tracking & Management System (IATMS)

IATMS is a unified framework for geolocation knowledge that provides instant visualization of MRO assets, improving asset utilization and scheduling and MRO flow-times. IATMS also provides knowledge discovery for equipment-task and -resource relationships using geolocation and other data sources.

The Air Force’s Tinker Air Force Base (TAFB), Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center (OC-ALC) and the Hill Air Force Base (HAFB), Ogden Air Logistics Center (OO-ALC) are responsible for the maintenance, repair, and overhaul of billions of dollars worth of aircraft each year. In addition to the actual nuts and bolts work on aircraft, a significant undertaking in itself, MRO activities involve the coordinated planning, scheduling, and moving of not only the aircraft, but also the thousands of pieces of ground support equipment (GSE) and other assets used in MRO work. At Tinker, more than 3500 items, ranging from huge cranes and air-conditioners to wrenches and drills, are required for MRO work that is spread over an area the size of a small city. MRO planning and coordination is a tightly orchestrated endeavor: aircraft, parts, and GSE required for each step, large items that can be difficult and time consuming to stage and deploy, must be in place when and where they are needed and must accommodate the requirements of other ongoing MRO work. A lag at any step in the schedule—the result of movement conflicts or double scheduled GSE, for example—can have a ripple effect, impacting other downstream MRO work and leading to missed deadlines, snowballing cost overruns, and, most significantly, compromised mission readiness.

 

Crucial to the effective management and coordination of MRO work is the real-time tracking of the GSE used in those MRO activities. The inability to track the location of GSE makes it particularly difficult to stage, deploy, and coordinate MRO resources for aircraft and GSE movement. KBSI, in an initiative funded by the U.S. Air Force, has developed an automated system for asset tracking that, with the help of Ekahau’s powerful Positioning Engine™ (EPE) kit, provides a unified framework for acquiring and managing geolocation knowledge of GSE both indoors (inside the MRO shops and hangers) and outdoors (on the aircraft ramps). The Intelligent Asset Tracking and Management System (IATMS) provides a unique software interface that allows users to track and manage, in real time, GSE onscreen and to collect valuable data concerning the movement history of GSE.

IATMS uses detailed background maps of the area under observation to show the location of tagged GSE. An IATMS module logs the position of GSE by continuously collecting data from the attached Wi-Fi tags. The module first connects to the Ekahau Positioning Engine, extracts current tracking data, including the x and y coordinates of GSE and the current battery level of the Wi-Fi tags, and stores this data in an attached Access database. This feature allows users to monitor the status of the asset tracking tags used to sense and transmit location information and to track the complete movement path of a particular GSE over the last week, month, etc.—data that provides valuable insights into how assets are being moved and utilized.

Phase II Development

Phase II of the IATMS initiative at OC-ALC focused on hardening and extending the IATMS framework to include fusion, analysis, and mining of location, asset, work, and workforce data. The Phase II IATMS framework provides allocation optimization by considering location information and other data sources that relate to work breakdown structures, personnel, and schedules.

webbanner_infodatamodelingThe success of IATMS at Tinker spurred a pilot implementation of the system at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. At Hill, KBSI demonstrated the IATMS capability for round the clock monitoring of ten selected pieces of GSE using the bases’ existing 802.11b infrastructure. IATMS also, using data from the Ekahau Positioning Engine, collects and stores detailed tracking information, providing rich, summary statistics on the movement history of targeted GSE.

This material is based upon work supported by the United States Air Force under Contract No. F34601-04-C-0138.  Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Air Force.

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Intelligent System for Abstraction & Integration of Instrumentation Hardware (ISAIIH)

ISAIIH is an XML-based language that acts as an intermediary between Instrumentation Support Systems (ISS) and the vendor-specific languages of leveraged systems. This capability supports instrumentation systems programming prior to test and evaluation.

The Intelligent System for Abstraction & Integration of Instrumentation Hardware (ISAIIH) methodology was developed and documented with a focus on aviation T&E.  The effort was motivated by the requirement that current Instrumentation Support Systems (ISS) use vendor-specific languages in order to support the programming of instrumentation systems prior to testing.

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FIST™: Framework for Intelligent Support of Smart Transducers

The FIST™ technology provides a plug-and-play capability for large-scale smart transducer deployments. The technology applies the benefits of smart transducer technology to improve the way flight test and instrumentation engineers design, implement, test and manage sensor networks.

Test and Evaluation (T&E) at Edwards AFB involves collecting large volumes of data that must then be processed for display, analysis, and storage in the digital world of micro-controllers, processors, and computer networks.  This data processing challenge is the focus of Edwards AFB’s development of a “smart transducer” framework that supports controller-to-transducer and transducer-to-transducer processing for their T&E operations.  KBSI’s Framework for Intelligent Support of Smart Transducers (FIST™) initiative built a framework that allows for a plug-and-play capability for large-scale smart transducer deployments.  The FIST™ technology exploits the inherent benefits of the smart transducer technology and revolutionizes the way in which flight test and instrumentation engineers design, implement, test and manage sensor networks.

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Automated Rule Learning from Data Traces (TraceLogic)

The TraceLogic initiative is developing methods, processes and algorithms to decipher the hidden rules or logic of complex flight operations aboard Navy aircraft carriers. The TraceLogic technology will help the Navy to better understand and address the technical and pragmatic problems associated with improving flight operation performance.

Operations on aircraft carriers have been described as “controlled chaos” that involve a complex, choreographed mix of flight-mission preparations, launch, recovery, and mission close-out operations. Critical activities take place on the hangar deck, the flight deck, and in the control center and these activities are performed by personnel with distinct roles, using mobile and fixed equipment, ordnance and fuel. Missions are often in flux, and a single equipment failure can throw the entire plan of action into a tailspin.

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Success Story: Automated Asset Tracking & Management

Aviation maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) work involves more than simply turning wrenches or stripping and repainting. Before MRO work can begin on an aircraft, large numbers of MRO assets both big and small, have to be in the right place, at the right time and must be moved in coordination with the aircraft they’ll be servicing. For large-scale MRO facilities like the Air Force’s Air Logistics Centers, the inability to track the location of aircraft and ground support equipment (GSE) makes it difficult to quickly locate, stage, deploy, and coordinate aircraft, GSE, and critical resource movements among the busy ramps and hangars. This inability causes persistent schedule delays, increased MRO flow times, and mounting aviation repair costs at a time when most military organizations are looking for better resource efficiency and utilizations. Working with the Aircraft Maintenance Operations Control Center (AMOCC) at Tinker AFB, KBSI customized its generic asset visualization technology, providing a knowledge based visualization and management application used to track aircraft and GSE across the air logistics center.

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