The DOD Maintenance Innovation Challenge (MIC) aims to elevate and expand the call for maintenance innovation to include not only new technology, hardware, and software, but also unique partnerships, resourcing strategies, business practices or processes that promise to make maintenance more capable, agile, and affordable.
MIC Overall Technology Winner – Air Force
Congratulations to the Oklahoma Air Logistics Complex (OC-ALC), the Air Force Sustainment Center, Air Force Lifecycle Management Center and Air Force Research Laboratory for receiving the MIC Technology Award at the 2019 DOD Maintenance Symposium. Their submission, Fully Organic Repair of Air Force Assets Via Cold Spray impressed the panel of judges as an excellent example of revolutionary and evolutionary maintenance and sustainment technology. The OC-ALC has retrofitted an existing thermal spray booth to have a dual capability to include cold spray. Additionally, they have become a qualified source for cold spray repair of cast magnesium housings staffed entirely with Air Force personnel.
This submission resonated with the panel of DoD Senior Logistics Managers, who judged the six MIC finalists. They evaluated the submission on the following criteria:
- Maintenance centricity
- An original contribution to the State-of-the-Art
- Technical maturity
- Cross-Service application
- Potential to benefit maintenance
- Feasibility and practicality
The Air Force relies on many legacy weapons systems such as the B-52, E-3, and B-1B, but finding and repairing parts is difficult and reduces readiness levels. Jesse Holdaway, Automation & Robotics Lead Engineer with the Air Force Rapid Sustainment Office, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base had generated the concept of using cold spray to manufacture or repair parts through the University of Dayton’s Research Institute and Glen Drebes, Repair Development Engineer Chief with the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group at Tinker Air Force Base had cast magnesium housings that needed repair, quickly.
“It was total synergy,” says Drebes. “Jesse had run the tests and needed an application. We had the application. It was only 10 months from idea to production implementation. This project perfectly aligned with this year’s DOD MIC theme of Ready Systems @ the Speed of Relevance.”
Many groups were involved in this technology transition project from Air Force Engine Life Cycle Program office at Tinker and Wright Patterson so there wasn’t an issue with buy-in and it was approved across the board. “This project could be put into production quickly because it wasn’t conducted in a vacuum. It was all about teamwork,” says Holdaway.
Tinker now has a qualified robot spraying every day. The question is, what’s next?
MIC People’s Choice Award Winner – MELD
Based on the strength of presentation and applicability to critical maintenance and sustainment needs, NCMS Member MELD Manufacturing Corporation has taken the People’s Choice Award. Their submission, A Novel Solid-State Technology for Sustainment addresses the need for the warfighter to make critical repairs in the field or at sea. The MELD process is a solid–state additive technology enabling the repair of otherwise unrepairable assets due to the parts/component’s inherent material limitations.