Cost-Wise Readiness Enabled Through Condition Based Maintenance Plus (CBM+)

Matthew C. Carter and Josh Kennedy
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Full Paper
phmc_15_020.pdf345.23 KBAugust 18, 2015 - 8:57am

As Department of Defense (DoD) funding continues to decrease through automatic spending cuts, budget reductions pressure commands to develop, implement and manage innovative ways to reduce spending. The high cost of maintenance associated with the ownership and sustainment of military assets required to support the global presence of the United States makes this task exceptionally challenging. Reducing costs within Operations and Support (O&S) activities without sacrificing readiness is achievable through Cost-Wise Readiness (CWR) initiatives. Goals and objectives of such initiatives are designed to increase efficiencies and yield greater value from each budgeted dollar. As budgetary environments become progressively more challenging, the purpose of Army maintenance remains unchanged—to generate combat power. In support of continuing this capability within fiscally limiting environments, Army Aviation is leading the way with ongoing efforts to implement, measure, and communicate maintenance improvements and benefits.

The AMCOM Logistics Center (ALC) functions as the logistics component of the U. S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command (AMCOM) headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. The ALC develops, acquires, fields and sustains logistics support for the Army Aviation and Missile systems and associated support equipment to ensure the Army's weapon system readiness in any operation worldwide. The ALC, in support of Program Executive Offices, Project Managers, Army Depots, and partnering with Industry; are dedicated to provide real-time logistics support to the Soldier, Airman, and Marine in training and in combat. The ALC is dedicated to the development and implementation of CWR initiatives through the identification and pursuit of opportunities for improvement and cost reduction. As part of identifying opportunities for improvement, ALC has been instrumental in the development of technological capabilities in support of the CWR mission. One such high-tech capability includes the integration of systems which incorporate Condition Based Maintenance Plus (CBM+) into the management of the Army’s fleet of helicopters.

Over the last several years, the DOD has invested in the qualification, installation, and training of technology to enable the Warfighter to employ CBM+, primarily in support of mission readiness and to reduce maintenance burden. Army Aviation leads the DOD through the integration of a host of sensors, Digital Source Collectors (DSC), and Condition Indicators (CI). CIs are advanced algorithms processed through DSCs integrated into helicopters and the Personal Computer Ground Based Systems (PCGBS) used by Warfighters. The specialized equipment and software is designed to support the automation of monitoring conditions of various components while in operation. Dedicated utilization of the technology has been particularly instrumental in mitigating the cost of maintaining and sustaining large fleets of helicopters.

Advanced CBM+ technology and breakthroughs have been provided through the collaboration of several Team Redstone organizations. The South Carolina Army National Guard (SCARNG) 59th Aviation Troop Command and the University of South Carolina (USC) CBM Center have also been instrumental in the development, testing and qualification of the technology. Team Redstone organizations include the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), the Redstone Test Center (RTC), the Program Executive Office-Aviation (PEO-A), and the Apache Attack Helicopter (AAH) Program Management Office (PMO). CWR efforts have empowered the Aviation Engineering Directorate (AED) to authorize valuable Time Change and Retirement Change (TC-RC) extensions across numerous Critical Safety Item (CSI) / flight safety critical aircraft components. AED is the airworthiness authority as designated by the AMCOM Commanding General (CG) for Army-developed and Army-operated aircraft. Certain CSI components are continuously monitored through the technology by the Warfighter. Operating with this capability is mandatory in order to operate certain authorized components significantly beyond normally allowed TC-RC limits.

Crossing the threshold into the additional Time on Wing (TOW) zone granted through Airworthiness Releases (AWR) and Aviation Maintenance Action Messages (AMAM) allows for valuable Time between Overhaul (TBO) and RC life extensions. Authorized extensions have ranged from 250 to 11,900 flying hours, depending on the component. The resulting extension of maintenance intervals provides extremely valuable monetary benefits. The most significant extension has allowed the AH-64D main transmission to remain installed up to 50% longer, as its prior fleet wide limit of 1000 Flying Hours (FH) has been incrementally increased to 1250 then to 1500 FHs. It had been determined through greater than five years of tear-down analysis, provided by the Reliability Improvement through Failure Identification and Reporting (RIMFIRE) program that 42% of all reasons for transmission removals are for TC-RC of the depot level replaceable accessory Sprag clutch. The extensions were authorized incrementally through the AWR process, specifically for AH-64D Helicopters participating in CBM using the Modernized Signal Processor Unit (MSPU). As a critical part of the ALC’s CWR initiative, extensions of component TC-RC intervals play a key role in the Army’s ability to get more out of each budgeted dollar. TC-RC extensions have enabled substantial TOW increases to date. In addition, CBM+ technology has also been instrumental in reducing, and in several cases eliminating, time consuming manual inspections and vibration checks. Automation of these tasks, along with the ability to bypass replacement of components until later maintenance phase periods, has empowered the U.S. Army helicopter maintainer to focus on other tasks that support readiness.

Through collaboration with AMRDEC and the AMCOM G3 Command Analysis Division (CAD) review, ALC’s Sustainment Optimization & Analysis (SOA) office has developed and validated its Post Implementation Analysis (PIA) methodology. This repeatable process measures benefits yielded through implemented CWR initiatives. The mature methodology captures and communicates how CBM+ increases efficiency while demonstrating how dedicated participation and employment of the technology supports CWR. Since its emergence in FY 2013 as the primary mechanism to substantiate current and future requests for funding, it has captured and communicated specific benefits enabled through the implementation of 25 maintenance changes.

As demonstrated by ALC’s repeatable PIA methodology, Army Aviation benefits from greater TOW of costly aircraft components such as transmissions, Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) clutches, forward hanger bearings, aft hanger bearings, tail rotor swash plate assemblies, and tail rotor gearboxes. Such increased TOW naturally translates to measurable demand reduction per 10,000 FH, and considerable cost avoidance. Mission readiness is increased through much needed reductions in Warfighter burden and by lowering the sustainment costs of certain items. With components under the CBM umbrella, soldiers are better equipped to make informed decisions. While CBM+ technology has enabled significant benefits, there is room for improvement. There are further advancements to be made as newer technologies become available for incorporation in support of greater CWR initiatives to ensure superior combat power continues to be generated, in a cost effective manner.

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Economics and cost-benefit analysis
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