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Asset Management Branch continuously improving test infrastructure maintenance program and readiness

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. --

While continuing to operate active test cells, resurrecting test cells that have been dormant for several years and adding addition­al test capabilities to the increased test workload of the mission ar­eas, the TSS Asset Management Branch is in lock step with the Na­tional Aerospace Solutions (NAS) Asset Health Assurance branch to strive to decrease maintenance costs while increasing reliability of the assets through reliability centered maintenance (RCM).

RCM is defined as a system­atic, disciplined process for es­tablishing the appropriate main­tenance plan for an asset/system to minimize the probability of failures.

In reference to his AEDC Strategy 2020, Col. Jeffrey Ger­aghty, AEDC Commander, speci­fies three focus area priorities: 1. Pursue Mission Excellence, 2. Invest in our People and 3. Im­prove and Sustain the Complex. With the challenge of a limited sustainment budget, we must fo­cus on reducing the overall cost of the sustainment program while increasing the capacity and reli­ability of AEDC’s facilities.

To work within the sustain­ment budgetary constraints, the TSSA asset managers along with their NAS counterparts are con­tinuously striving to reduce the number of legacy preventive maintenance (PM) actions and increase the intervals between in­spections if warranted. They are also identifying critical spares to have on hand to reduce down­time, and improve planning and scheduling processes, which re­sults in more efficient sustainment for maintaining the assets. The maintenance approach of run-to-failure for some equipment is jus­tified based on the cost to PM a component as compared to quick­ly replacing it once it fails, but it is imperative that a proper stock level is maintained to support the asset.

Another significant focus is to increase intervals for intrusive PMs on large motors, valves and pumps while utilizing predictive technologies by the Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) group to monitor real time condition of assets. The value of applying these predictive technologies while commissioning a new or rebuilt asset aides in understanding the normal life cycle of operation and trending analyses when approach­ing a decline or change in how the asset is operating. This method pays large dividends of bringing the equipment out of service based on asset health instead of calendar based PM intervals. The long term goal is to increase the number of assets utilizing the CBM tools as a proactive means to address health issues early thus reducing number of failures resulting in more up­time of equipment to support the test mission.

Another aspect of the RCM im­plementation is item management. Standardization of components across the complex is key to re­ducing the amount of critical spare parts required to keep on hand. Bill of materials are reviewed and up­dated, or even created if it does not exist, so that correct parts are or­dered and kept in stock. Due to the age of the vast majority of AEDC’s equipment that has been in opera­tion for the last sixty plus years, vendor sources have diminished and made it challenging to support equipment with limited to no sup­pliers. Some components in inven­tory have shelf lives that have to be monitored and mechanical equip­ment that has to be maintained with PMs, such as motors, pumps and gearboxes, to keep them in op­timal operational status for when they get put into operation. Les­sons learned over time have indi­cated a need for spending the time to keep stocked parts in service­able condition and only maintain­ing what is required.

The Service Life Extension Program has currently aided AEDC immensely in bringing much needed attention to the aging facility infrastructure in support of the test mission. With sustainment budgets decreasing over the last decade, we, government and con­tractor alike, must continue to find ways to sustain the aging complex to support an ever increasing test workload in support of AEDC’s priority of Improving and Sustain­ing the Complex.