2020 was a year marked by resiliency for NCMS and the CTMA Program. In–person events shifted to virtual, and government and industry partners adjusted to the changing work environments. But with all that, the CTMA Program executed more contracts and projects in 2020 than ever before infusing innovative maintenance and sustainment technologies to enhance warfighter readiness and support mission success.
A few milestones are detailed below.
NCMS is awarded CTMA Program Cooperative Agreement once again!
2020 began on a high note, with the DOD awarding NCMS with a fourth consecutive CTMA Program Cooperative Agreement. This competitive award extends NCMS’ 22-year record of success as the CTMA Program’s managing partner. CTMA is the only DOD-wide program focused solely on maintenance improvements. It provides a flexible contract vehicle and collaborative working model for manufacturers, research universities, DOD, and other federal agencies to develop relationships and opportunities, drive cutting-edge R&D, and meet warfighter needs through demonstration of new technologies prior to full deployment.
Without missing a beat, the CTMA Program team has executed 77 CTMA new initiatives since the new award, with all branches of the armed service participating. From digitizing an entire B1 Bomber and an enterprise portfolio management pilot for the Presidential Helicopter to reverse adhesives and demonstrating cold spray techniques, the CTMA Program is continuously introducing game-changing maintenance and sustainment technologies that save billions in costs, increase safety, and enhance warfighter readiness.
“The readiness of America’s fighting forces hinges on the effectiveness of DOD’s maintenance and sustainment enterprise. CTMA has become the “go-to” program for bringing the best and brightest ideas from industry and DOD to rapidly innovate the way that affordable materiel readiness is provided to our warfighters. For the past 22 years, CTMA has diligently and steadily changed maintenance paradigms across the entire sustainment portfolio,” said Mr. Gregory Kilchenstein, Director, Enterprise Maintenance Technology, ODASD – Materiel Readiness.
A sampling of CTMA initiatives changing the way DOD supports warfighter readiness
For over 22 years, the CTMA Program has supported demonstrations, evaluations, and validations of technologies that are true game-changers for the warfighter. These initiatives increase efficiency, lower costs, and improve safety for the maintainer and equipment operator. We’ve selected just a few examples to illustrate how innovative maintenance and sustainment technology is being adapted across the DOD.
Through the CTMA Program, B1 Bomber first-ever military aircraft to have a complete digital twin
The CTMA initiative to create a digital twin to this aging, yet still critical aircraft, is the first time a digital twin is being created for an entire military aircraft down to each component part to make spare part acquisition easier. The wings have been digitized, and now the tails, nacelle, and fuselage are following suit. With an obsolescence challenge in obtaining spare parts that are no longer available, the digital blueprint can be used to prototype and test the parts before creating new molds or even additive manufacturing technical data packages. Maintainers today have grown up with technology and are comfortable using virtual reality and optics for inspections, training, and maintenance activities. So interpreting digital blueprints is familiar territory for them. Finally, digital twins can predict which areas of the aircraft will be vulnerable to fatigue and other hot spots of concern, allowing predictive maintenance tasks to keep the aircraft operational.
Creating shipyards and Fleet Readiness Centers of the future
With increasing attention to weapon systems maintenance efficiencies and schedules, the CTMA Program is the perfect venue to evaluate the efficacy of modeling and simulation solutions. As maintenance facilities modernize, it is important to develop and validate a process to conduct Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) and to assess the value of a best-in-class commercially available Production Engineering Analysis Tool. Using modeling and simulation digital tools, the result will automate the identification of beneficial equipment upgrades and any associated facility modifications necessary to support equipment optimization in U.S. Naval shipyards as well as Fleet Readiness Centers. It will simulate the impacts of the industrial equipment and facility layout variations on key production parameters to provide a Return on Investment (ROI) for each item identified. This CTMA initiative targets a specific set of Fleet Readiness Centers as well as the four naval shipyards. The results of this critical project could serve as a pilot program for a similar process to be used by other government organizations, as well as in the commercial industry.
DOD evaluates innovative Airless Tire Technology
Currently, conventional tires have an inherent potential for air loss resulting in the immobility of the vehicle and potential loss of control of the vehicle jeopardizing the safety of the operator, surrounding vehicles, and the general public. The DOD Service Maintenance Activity has similar problems with air-filled tires and will participate in this CTMA project as a proof of concept surrogate for implementation of airless tire technologies for use by commercial industry, and for the benefit to the general public. Understanding and documenting the parameters for airless tire technology development will allow for scalable development for current vehicle sustainment platforms used by the general public, commercial industry, and the DOD to provide improved maintenance and sustainment cost solutions. This airless tire technology was developed for the Special Operations Command’s (SOCOM’s) military Light Tactical All-Terrain Vehicles (LTATV) by tire manufacturer Michelin to reduce maintenance costs and to enhance warfighter readiness. Currently, the airless tire is being adapted and testing is taking place on multiple vehicles with various tire sizes.
Enhancing Condenser Tube Cleaning through an automated process
On a nuclear–powered aircraft carrier, cleaning the 60,000 condenser tubes is not only extremely labor-intensive and time-consuming but also dangerous. Condenser tubes can acquire fouling and build up over time. Currently, it takes a team of maintainers to hand feed a high-pressure spray lance through each condenser tube while manually controlling the flow of water to the nozzle. The water jet is so forceful it can slice metal, imagine what it could do to the human body. The Enhancing Condenser Tube Cleaning through Innovative Technology CTMA initiative is introducing the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to technology that requires only one maintainer to program an automated cleaning system through a handheld tablet.
Events looked different, but still provided great value
As we wind down the year, 2020 saw NCMS go virtual with our sponsored and supported events. While a few events were canceled or postponed due to travel restrictions, we found alternatives ways to connect, network, and inform through virtual platforms.
Additive Manufacturing Workshop
In June, NCMS hosted the Additive Manufacturing Workshop, a follow–up to the Business Model Workshop held in 2019. The purpose was to address important foundational aspects of additive manufacturing necessary for DOD’s wide adoption of the game–changing capability. Attendees were divided into teams consisting of Program Managers, Legal, Engineering, Logistics, Enterprise IT, Cybersecurity, Training, Administration, and Contracts.
This year the event was held via a virtual forum, using technology that facilitated convenient digital participation in plenary sessions as well as smaller breakout groups. The virtual environment of the workshop allowed for record attendance and inspired collaborative thought leadership.
Topics and sub–topics included:
- Addressing AM Cyber Challenges, facilitated by Al Lowas, and Dana Ellis
- Standards and Data Dictionary and Common AM Database Experiment, facilitated by Jennifer Wolk, Mark Benedict, and Alex Kitt
- Workforce Development for AM, facilitated by Michael Britt-Crane, Josh Kramer, and Karla O’Connor
- AM Metrics—Measures of Effectiveness and Measures of Performance, facilitated by Jim Disch, Dr. Bernard Goodley, Ernesto Ureta, Dr. Stephen Kuhn-Hendricks, Tim Vorakoumane, and
- AM Part Risk Categorization and Impact on Part Criticality, facilitated by Edilia Correa, Andy Meighan, Tony Delgado, Eric Kirchner, and Ian Wing
- AM TDP for Procurement in Sustainment, facilitated by Edilia Correa, Andy Meighan, Tony Delgado, Eric Kirchner, and Ian Wing
- Framing the DOD-Level AM Guidebook, facilitated by Greg Kilchenstein and Kelly Visconti
- Acquisition and Contracting, facilitated by Ray Langlais and Mike Acosta
- Research & Engineering/Specs & Standards, facilitated by Greg Kilchenstein and Kelly Visconti
- Collaboration, Communication & Policy Implementation, facilitated by Debbie Lilu and Chris Fick
CTMA Technology Competition
The Sarcos® Guardian XO® Full-Body, Powered Exoskeleton won the 2020 Commercial Technologies for Maintenance Activities (CTMA) Technology Competition. Seven finalists were chosen to present from over 50 impressive submissions. Sarcos receives $50,000 in funding and will participate in a one-year technology demonstration/evaluation project.
This competition is a great way to get innovative maintenance and sustainment technology in front of key decision–makers within the DOD.
All submissions were judged by the Joint Technology Exchange Group (JTEG) Principals, which is comprised of maintenance and sustainment leaders from all branches of Service. The top seven finalists of the CTMA Technology Competition were granted 10 minutes to present their submission/idea to the audience, followed by five minutes of “Shark Tank” type Q&A with the competition review panel.
This competition has introduced many innovative technologies that have been transitioned into demonstrations, evaluations, and validations within the DOD.
Team SUB Small Business Sustainment Technology Showcase
NCMS partnered with the Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC to host the Small Business Sustainment Technology Showcase, September 16-17, 2020. This virtual event was an introduction to innovative technologies from approximately 25 Small Businesses that can assist the Program Executive Offices (PEO) with a broad spectrum and high level of shipyard modernization efforts. Government participants were key decision-makers for a wide variety of initiatives. At this virtual event, industry participants learned more about NAVSEA’s current needs and future requirements.
Joint Robotics Organization for Building Organic Technologies (JROBOT)
NCMS was proud to have been an integral part of the JROBOT Summit III that took place via a virtual forum, August 17-20, 2020. This summit was a follow-on to JROBOT Summit II and continued the conversation of maximizing asset availability across the DOD and allied partners using robotic capabilities.
Over 100 attendees from all the Services, the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Materiel Readiness, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other federal agencies participated in three days of workshops that included:
- Identify and Prioritize Capability Gaps
- Align Workforce Training Strategy
- Develop Initial Joint Acquisition Strategy
- Update the Robotics Roadmap
Some common insights through all four tracks included a need to share the success stories of collaborating with robotic technologies as well as the knowledge that the DOD is still in the early stages of robotic adoption. The JROBOT Summit III took a step forward in a robotics paradigm shift and creating a plan for the future.
With an eye to the new year
The NCMS staff have worked hard over this unprecedented year to ensure our support of the warfighter never waned despite our new work challenges. New and intriguing initiatives are right around the corner and we stand with our government and industry partners to find possibility and value in everything that 2021 brings.
On behalf of everyone at NCMS, we wish you and yours a very safe and happy holiday.