Maintenance of US Navy shipboard systems is fundamentally a process of identifying what part failed (or is about to fail) and then replacing it. Analysis of ship-generated 3M maintenance actions consistently shows that on average 2/3 of all maintenance actions involve replacement of failed parts. If the required parts are available from shipboard stocks, the system is usually quickly restored. If the parts are not available, the equipment/system will be down or degraded until the parts are received from off-ship sources.
The ready availability of onboard repair parts (OBRP) is clearly one of the most critical factors in operational readiness. But, despite its importance, serious OBRP availability problems continue to plague the fleet. For over 40 years the Navy has been tracking OBRP effectiveness data through the 3M system. The data shows that, on average, 50% of the time that a technician needs a replacement part, it will not be available from shipboard supply. The numbers are a little better for submarines and a little worse for aircraft carriers, but the 50% number has held steady for years, and in fact is getting worse. What this means is that 50% of the time a technician needs a part, it has to be ordered from off-ship sources—which GAO and other studies show takes an average of 18 days. Again, this means the system will stay down or degraded until the part comes in, and that kind of logistics delay time has a dramatic affect on operational readiness. It is also the source of much frustration for shipboard sailors since there is little they can do about the problem. Poor parts support is a major contributor to the loss of organic maintenance capability—as highlighted in the Balisle report of Surface Force Readiness.
Although the lack of OBRP support is typically viewed as a supply problem, the underlying cause of these problems is often rooted in an engineering or maintenance data problem which manifests itself as a supply problem. OBRP requirements are defined and driven by the Coordinated Shipboard Allowance List (COSAL) process. In short, the COSAL is the machine that puts parts onboard for all other machines—and like any other machine if it fails to function it needs to be trouble shot and fixed. The COSAL is driven by system configuration data maintained by the In-service Engineering Agents (ISEA) in the Configuration Data Manager Database. Repair part maintenance requirements and repair philosophy are developed during the equipment acquisition and provisioning process and encoded into the constituent Allowance Parts Lists (APLs), also by the ISEAs. This data in turn plays a big part in the allowance calculation process, which defines which parts will be carried in ship supply—and any errors in this engineering/maintenance data will typically translate into OBRP support problems.
The CNO minimum requirement for COSAL OBRP effectiveness is 65%. But even that relatively low expectation has never been achieved, except for special interest systems that have their own support system. There have been a number of studies and analyses conducted by the GAO and others over the years that address this problem. These studies show that there are serious systemic problems that in combination contribute to the poor parts availability situation in the fleet. Salient systemic problems include:
- Incomplete and inaccurate system configuration data for shipboard systems.
- Incomplete and inaccurate maintenance and supply support data on equipment Allowance Parts Lists (APLs)
- Problems with repair part sparing models (Policy)
For over 30 years, ATS has been working to isolate and solve (or at least alleviate) OBRP support problems for the Navy. These efforts include development and implementation of several major ILS/OBRP improvement efforts. These include the Integrated Logistics Overhaul (ILO) program; the Integrated Shipboard Maintenance Support (ISMS) training program; the aircraft carrier Maintenance Support Center (MSC) program, and the submarine Enhanced Integrated Logistics Overhaul (E-ILO) program. These and other efforts were aimed at finding ways to better integrate engineering, maintenance, and logistics support data and products through a common configuration connection. It is no secret that the Navy’s integrated logistics support processes and products are anything but integrated. The shore-based system is a convoluted collection of organizations and activities, each focused on its particular piece of the logistics puzzle with little integration of data or effort. Engineering data is maintained in one database, maintenance data in another, and supply data in yet another—and the list goes on. All of these lifecycle support functions are configuration-dependent, yet none operate from a common definition of the configuration items (CI) that collectively constitute ship systems. Consequently, all are generally out of sync with actual system configuration, and with each other. The end result is poor onboard logistics support, particularly parts.
Our experience has shown that it is difficult to identify problems with any particular element of logistics in isolation of all other elements, and of course system configuration data. For example, one can’t look at an APL and determine that the maintenance coding for a particular part is wrong just by looking at it. However, when the APL data is married to IETM data that tells a sailor how to replace the part but the APL maintenance coding (SM&R) says it’s a depot remove and replace part only, this inconsistency becomes immediately apparent. When this same data is further connected to actual maintenance failures for a particular system, one begins to see inconsistencies between what the sailor is actually doing, what the TM says to do, and what the maintenance philosophy encoded in the APL says to do. These are not isolated problems; they are common and completely predictable given the nature of the independent nature of the shore-based systems that produce them.
In order to deal with the underlying data integration problem, ATS has developed a unique data connection and correlation system that allows us to download system engineering, maintenance and logistics support data which is linked to a common configuration item (CI). Called the Maintenance & Supportability Analysis Tool (MSAT), this tool supports data ingestion and integration from any source database and connects it all in such a way that discrepancies become immediately visible. The system was recently tested on a radar system, with alarming results. The system showed major discrepancies between engineering drawing BOM data and the IETM. For example, there were hundreds of parts listed in the IETM that do not connect to either the BOM or the APL. Moreover, there were hundreds of parts listed on the APL that did not connect back to the IETM or the BOM. Several hundred fleet maintenance items were analyzed and linked to the CI. Most of these involved replacement of repair parts, and only 4% were satisfied from onboard stock. Further analysis showed that the majority of these would never be allowed because the APL had them coded for intermediate or depot level maintenance only, which although clearly incorrect automatically prevented these items from even being considered for OBRP allowance. This was true even for Preventive Maintenance (PM) items identified on the Maintenance Requirement Cards (MRC).
These are just a few examples of the types of engineering, maintenance, and logistics support data disconnects that MSAT reveals. It is interesting to note that for this one radar system, there were about 65,000 entities that collectively described the system, its engineering drawings, specifications, IETM parts list, maintenance actions, APLs, and so on. Using its unique data connection process, MSAT automatically created over 1.25 million connections among these data. These connections (or lack of connections) can then be used by SMEs to analyze all maintenance actions and to flush out and fix the root cause of OBRP and many other support problems.
MSAT is currently being used to analyze and correct maintenance support and sustainability problems for other shipboard systems.
For more information about MSAT, or to schedule a demo, please contact our Maintenance Support Group.