In recent years, the Navy has shifted from primarily time-directed maintenance to condition-based maintenance (CBM). There are sound fiscal reasons for this; replacing parts only when they are about to fail clearly saves money. This “lean” philosophy has proved highly effective in profit-driven industrial production, where saving money is another way to make money. The Navy, by contrast, has two competing goals: to save taxpayer dollars and to maintain a capable, mission-ready fighting force. CBM certainly has saved dollars. It also has had the unintended side effect of compromising mission readiness.
In a 2017 speech, then–Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, Vice Admiral Thomas Moore used the example of tank maintenance to illustrate the problem:
1. Megan Eckstein, “Maintenance Planning Summit Recommends Time-Based Maintenance, ‘Tighter Learning Circle,’” USNI News, 22 February 2017.
2. Government Accountability Office, NAVY SHIPYARDS: Actions Needed to Address the Main Factors Causing Maintenance Delays for Aircraft Carriers and Submarines (August 2020).
3. See, for example, the following solicitation: “Predictive Condition-Based Maintenance for High-Powered Phased Array Radar Systems.”
4. Defense Innovation Unit Annual Report, 2019.
5. Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Port Hueneme Division was recently awarded a patent for its Secure Shipboard Information Management System, developed precisely to serve this function.
6. Google, “Google Cloud and STS to Automate U.S. Navy Maintenance Inspections Using AI and ML Technology,” press release, 27 August 2020.
7. Ben Werner, “Navy Refining How Data Analytics Could Predict Ship Maintenance Needs,” USNI News, 24 June 2019.
8. Megan Eckstein, “Navy Embracing Quicker Software Development Model to Leverage New HM&E Data Collection,” USNI News, 12 August 2019.
9. See also the Joint Fleet Maintenance Manual 220.127.116.11: “The advent of real-time machinery digital sensors, analysis tools, data recording and data transfer has brought Automated Machinery Condition Analysis (AMCA) to the forefront of CBM. AMCA systems are being employed and installed on new ships-of-the-line and back-fitted where practicable on existing ships. The AMCA tools and systems support the MCA programs and MCA surveys. The systems are implementing prognostic, diagnostic and maintenance capabilities for both shipboard and off-ship personnel to utilize to enhance understanding of the mechanical condition of propulsion plant and auxiliary rotating machinery.” See, for example, Cornelius Scheffer and Paresh Girdhar, Practical Machinery Vibration Analysis and Predictive Maintenance, (Oxford and Boston: Newnes, 2004).
10. See, for example, the recent solicitation: “Efficient Data Management to Improve Navy Maintenance and Ship Operational Readiness.”
11. Naval News Staff, “NAVSEA Builds New Frigate Readiness Digital Model in Advance of Construction,” Naval News, 19 April 2021.
12. For an overview of survival analysis in engineering, see John D. Kalbfleisch, and Ross L. Prentice, The Statistical Analysis of Failure Time Data, 2nd ed. (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley InterScience, 2002).
13. Current guidelines are set down in the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association’s S4000P International specification for developing and continuously improving preventive maintenance.
14. As quoted by Brett Vaughn, Navy Chief AI Officer and Office of Naval Research AI portfolio manager.
15. The full program, known as Model Based Product Support, is expected to begin initial operational integration in the second half of 2021. For an overview, see www.nsrp.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Model-Based-Product-Support-MBPS.pdf.
16. For an overview of the DevOps philosophy, see https://aws.amazon.com/devops/what-is-devops/.