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Automating the Surface Force Tank and Void Assessment Process

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Wireless technology is the networking backbone in homes and offices worldwide. This same technology now offers a maintenance solution for Surface Force Atlantic tank and void material condition assessments. Wireless technology puts the power of a desktop computer into the hands of tank and void assessors as they enter these cavernous shipboard compartments. With a few taps on a personal digital assistant (PDA) touch‐screen, assessors can record equipment configuration errors, annotate any one of over 100 possible tank condition abnormalities, or generate a repair work order with pre‐written problem description and recommended solution statements. At the end of a typical workday, these PDAs are wirelessly connected to a mid‐Atlantic regional maintenance center (MARMC) commercial off the shelf (COTS) server, where data export files are formatted for ship and shore 3M input. As Navy commands look to reduce operational and maintenance budgets, this automated and wireless business solution offers a means of maintaining the original tank and void maintenance goal of inspecting and trending degradation at a fraction of the previous required time and effort. Additionally, this process allows for the processing of assessment results to the SNAPSHOT database, the master tank, and void historical data repository. This automated process was successfully tested and implemented on 27 Norfolk‐based ships in 2006. With significant cost and time savings realized, the next logical step was to develop a distant support capability for remote locations. The goal here was to incorporate these same standards and processes into southeast regional maintenance center (SERMC) ships while maintaining the MARMC‐located COTS server as the main hub for work scheduling and PDA loading. To accomplish these goals, a process was developed using standard web technology for transferring PDA work assignment files (tanks and voids scheduled for assessment) from the main COTS server located at MARMC to the remote SERMC tank assessor equipped with a PDA. Once the assigned tank and void condition assessments are accomplished, files are then returned to MARMC using the same web technology. MARMC handles these remote files the same way as they do local files for data export to ship and shore 3M systems. This distant support capability was successfully tested and implemented on three Mayport‐based ships in December 2006. This paper will detail the significant steps taken to automate a maintenance process that used a hand‐scribed paper process and standard US Navy maintenance reporting infrastructures. The lessons learned during the upgrade process, maintenance advantages that maximize efficiency, cost effectiveness, and surface force ship reliability will be also be discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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  • The Naval Engineers Journal is the peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE). ASNE is the leading professional engineering society for engineers, scientists and allied professionals who conceive, design, develop, test, construct, outfit, operate and maintain complex naval and maritime ships, submarines and aircraft and their associated systems and subsystems.
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