Composites Technical Interchange Meeting & Working Groups

In its second year presented by NCMS, the 2017 DoD Advanced Composite Maintainers Technical Interchange Meeting (Composites TIM) was better than ever. The event, hosted by the U.S. Army and conducted at The Landing at Hill Air Force Base, received a lot of praise from both the industry and DoD leaders in attendance. The positive feedback for speakers, the energetic buzz for the industry table top reception, and the sold-out tours demonstrate the excitement that this event brings to the composite maintenance community each year.

The Composites TIM was established to focus on the unique challenges of composite materials, repairs, tooling, processing, storage, and facilities in military environments. The event is designed to showcase the breadth and depth of the government’s activities in composites maintenance as well as provide a forum for collecting, documenting, displaying, and discussing the state of this specialized field.

At the 2016 event, three working groups were formed to tackle issues facing the DoD. These working groups, which comprised of representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, industry, and non-profits, were created to discuss Supply Issues, Body of Knowledge/Best Practices, and Design for Supportability. Each working group holds monthly telecoms to track and report progress, typically on the last Wednesday of each month. Now, with over a year’s worth of progress, these working groups have updates to report.

Supply Issues

The goal of this working group is to increase awareness of composite material requirements and correct known material issues, specifically with the DLA. Over the past year, the Supply Issues Working Group has created a charter to organize the path forward for the group, located individuals within the DLA structure to help them get the materials they need into the DLA system, and sent a list of materials needed for repairs that can be readily input into the DLA database. DLA is currently working the list of composite materials to get them stock listed. The group facilitator, Ken Patterson, U.S. Air Force, feels that the group is on the right track and is making a lot of progress to supply the end users with the materials needed to make repairs on our aircraft.

Body of Knowledge/Best Practices

The focus of the Body of Knowledge/Best Practices Working Group is to identify and implement a repository for DoD-wide advanced composite structural repair and maintenance information in order to reduce the time spent searching for information and duplicating effort. The information gathered for this repository could range from lessons learned, research project information, material data, meeting information, repair training, etc. The working group has identified several potential avenues for housing this information and identified many of the potential challenges—such as data storage, access control, distribution rights, etc.—in creating a repository that is open to as many activities in the DoD community as possible. The current goal is to pilot a small-scale repository and continue to work through some of the issues and then evaluate how to proceed to a larger-scale repository. The end goal is to implement a solution that can support collaboration between all branches of the DoD, industry, and academia in order to reduce the constraint of information sharing between the different organizations within the DoD acquisition and support community specific to advanced composite materials.

Design for Supportability

The objective of this working group is to create a document that can be provided to programs detailing the supportability products required for repair programs and stress the importance of developing these products early in the acquisition process. The members of this group have been working on case studies—for both fielded programs and not-yet-fielded programs—regarding supportability products. The group is also working on securing a speaking slot at the 2018 DoD Maintenance Symposium where they will provide composite repair-related presentations on those case studies at the larger Design for Supportability session.

The upcoming 2018 Composites TIM event will be hosted by NCMS and the U.S. Air Force Advanced Composite Office at The Island Club at North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado, CA on June 12-14. Registrations close on June 1, 2018. Join us at the event or participate in one of the working groups to help us reach our goals and be a part of the excitement!