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…