The Uptime Blog
IETMs – Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals – have been around for a few decades now. The road for widespread use of electronic manuals in the military was paved by a set of standards issued in the United States in 1992: MIL-M-87268, defining the content and style of the manuals; MIL-D-87269, defining the database requirements; and MIL-Q-87270, defining quality assurance procedures.
Traditionally, IETMs have been categorized into five classes based on the level of functionality they provide to the end user. Class 1 IETMs are simple “page turner” applications that provide basic navigation and search capabilities. On the other end of the spectrum are Class 5 IETMs, offering fully integrated and dynamic database functionality. In practice, for many years most IETMs in the market were in the lower classes, as the efforts required to develop Class 4/5 IETMs required heavy customization. In recent years, IETMs have been defined using a functionality matrix rather than a 5-category classification, allowing clearer definitions of the functionality needed by the end user (and blurring the boundaries between the Classes in the process). The relatively new S1000D standard has further enhanced the reusability of data used within IETMs.
Enigma has been supplying defense customers with IETMs for more than twenty years. As with all our solutions, these IETMs have been developed with the end user in mind. That is, what does the user in the field – the soldier, the sailor, the airman, the marine – need in order to perform necessary maintenance in the most efficient manner? As such, our IETMs have been designed to offer an easy and intuitive user interface, the ability to find and order parts quickly and the integration to other systems to ensure a smooth and complete workflow. This functionality was not developed specifically for the defense industry. Our military IETMs are based on the Enigma 3C platform, which offers the necessary open and scalable architecture to produce these IETMs almost “out of the box.”
Most recently, Enigma’s IETM technology has been selected by the Norwegian Defence forces in their SAP Logistics project. Norwegian Defence is able to deliver fully-functional IETMs to the field based on a myriad of formats, from simple PDFs all the way to structured S1000D content. Other Enigma IETMs have been implemented by US and European defense customers.
For a deeper look into the Enigma IETMs for the military, we invite you to download our updated white paper: The Advantages of Integrated Military IETMs or IETPs in the Field.
According to a recent Aviation Week article, “U.S. Navy Manual Details New Focus,” the Navy’s Surface Force Readiness Manual (SFRM) is calling for improvements to fleet maintenance. According to the article, “The manual boasts that it ‘provides the overarching strategy and policy required to generate and sustain surface ship material and operational readiness to perform operational tasking and reach expected service life.’” Put another way, the new manual explains how to maximize uptime of a Navy ship, so it can perform as expected throughout its lifecycle. Interestingly enough, the needs of the Navy aren’t that different from the needs of other industries like energy exploration, refining, utilities, transit, process plant, high-tech, medical equipment, etc.
Admiral J.C. Harvey, Jr., commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, described the manual as “a robust and highly scrutinized readiness policy that I believe will better prepare our ships and crews for the many significant demands we face today.” The author makes it clear that the goal is for Navy maintenance to become more efficient and consistent, both in port and out on the ocean. It's all about making sure that a very complex ship is prepared to meet the mission that’s required. That means creating a self-sufficient ship and crew.
“Training a ship’s crew to execute maintenance availability, perform routine operations in and around homeports, and conduct sustained combat operations requires a sequenced and coordinated maintenance and training effort,” the manual continues. “This strategy is ship-focused and synchronizes training among multiple readiness stakeholders.”
The Navy’s strategy is ship-focused—each ship is treated as a unique asset. That means when a mechanic or technician is looking for parts and procedures, the only information they should find is data that relates to the specific equipment on that particular ship. (i.e. Information must be filtered according to hull number effectivity.) More than that, this information must be readily available regardless of network connection, which can be limited by weather conditions, location/deployment or combat environment.
The Navy’s strategy synchronizes across multiple stakeholders—effectively combining elements of planning, inventory, training and execution. That means when a mechanic or technician is selecting parts and procedures, they should also see other relevant information such as part availability, alternate parts, service bulletins, best practices and previous maintenance reports. Not only does such an approach augment previous training, because it provides complete technical information in real-time service is both accurate and effective.
What does this mean for other industries? The Aviation Week article indicates that the Navy looked at how it maintains its ships and decided it was time for a change. They realized that the quality and quantity of maintenance was deteriorating, which was adversely affecting readiness. A ship that can’t be deployed is not an asset, it’s a liability. For industries that rely on capital equipment, a similar investigation may turn up similar results. The question is, “What can these companies do to improve the situation?”
Enigma’s customers consistently say they deliver faster, more accurate service and support for their own customers, dealers and any equipment under service contract. The Enigma InService® EPC product ensures that mechanics, technicians and field engineers always have the right information at-hand, whether they are online, offline or mobile. With the ability to integrate to back-office systems, Enigma customers have a complete technical library that provides all necessary information for a particular machine or situation. Click here to see why more and more companies are turning to Enigma to improve their aftermarket service and support.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) has hundreds of different vehicle types amounting to hundreds of thousands of pieces of equipment deployed all over the world. Each vehicle is aggressively inspected and maintained according to a regular schedule, based on the manufacturer’s recommendations and field experience. Most maintenance activities rely on manual processes that are disconnected and paper-based. With so many vehicles scattered across the globe, and service and repair being so labor-intensive, it is a daunting task for the DoD to manage and maintain these vehicles in an efficient manner. Each branch of the armed forces conducts technical inspections according to its own standards but they all share a similar challenge: how to accelerate maintenance and quickly return equipment to service.
DoD maintenance depots often receive hundreds (or thousands) of vehicles at the same time, all of which require inspection and/or service. The first step in this process requires teams of soldiers/mechanics (maintainers) to inspect each vehicle for faults; this is a slow process in which maintainers rely on paper manuals and fill-out paper reports. These technical inspections (TI) last an average of one and a half to two hours and typically include:
- Following a standard inspection checklist found in the vehicle’s maintenance manual
- Identifying and recording all faults found during the inspection on a paper form
- Searching the Repair Parts Special Tool List (RPSTL) to identify the parts and tools necessary to fix each fault
- Manually validating these parts against FEDLOG, a logistics information system
- Submitting this completed form to a clerk who then types this information into the backend maintenance planning system and returns the form to maintenance for execution
The current TI process is both time consuming and error prone—more than 50% of the time the forms have missing, incorrect or illegible information. To accelerate this process and reduce errors, our defense customers use the Enigma Integrated Electronic Maintenance and Logistics application (E-IML). In the DoD, Enigma’s customers have reported a 50% reduction in the time required to complete technical inspections.
Using a laptop, tablet PC or handheld device, the maintainer works with a digital TI checklist that automatically captures fault information and enters that information into an electronic form such as a DA 2404, 5988E or, in the case of the Navy, a 2-Kilo Report. Upon logging into the system, Enigma captures information and pre-populates the majority of the fields on each form. The E-IML is connected to an updated online parts catalog (RPSTL) to display which part(s) are needed and automatically enters this information into the appropriate parts ordering form. The maintainer can also search for part numbers and repair procedures. To ensure that the correct part numbers are entered, the electronic version of the technical manual (IETM) automatically cross references the part numbers with the FEDLOG.
Working with the E-IML application offers several advantages:
•Technical inspections are digitized and automated, reducing the required time by half
•Paper documents no longer need to be carried to the inspection site
•Maintainers and maintenance supervisors can easily access the correct technical manuals for each type of vehicle
•Technical manuals can be revised at any time, eliminating the need to manually update paper manuals
•Electronic maintenance forms, containing critical pieces of a vehicle’s maintenance history, are automatically shared with the maintenance center to track fault codes and conduct prognostic and condition-based maintenance
All in all, Enigma’s E-IML solution enables the DoD to inspect and repair its equipment faster, allowing it to be deployed to the field more quickly. Beyond automating the TI process, the E-IML can be integrated with diagnostic systems to retrieve fault codes from a vehicle’s electronic control units, which automates troubleshooting and fault-isolation. But that’s a topic for another post…