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.