Over the past decade, numerous industries have adopted product lifecycle management (PLM) software that integrates design, engineering, production, cost, and maintenance data into a digital thread, providing manufacturers and end users a multi-functional view of a product’s life cycle. PLM software facilitates quality improvements, cost reductions, supply-chain flexibility, and more informed decision making. In 2020, the CTMA Program completed a collaboration with Siemens that utilized PLM software to upgrade DOD maintenance and sustainment processes.
This project—Product Lifecycle Management for Aircraft Sustainment and Support—brought Teamcenter, the well-regarded PLM suite of digital tools, to three NAVAIR fleet readiness centers (FRCs): Southwest, Southeast, and East. This project equipped these FRCs with a common PLM framework, which allows them to share data, resources, and manufacturing capabilities through the life cycle of their products.
Teamcenter incorporates all the technical data for airplanes, helicopters, and support equipment in a centralized data management system. Previously, this information had been stored in separate systems, databases, spreadsheets, and repositories across the FRCs. Teamcenter enables stakeholders involved in fleet service and support to have real-time, on-demand access to the same configuration, product history, and other service-related data. It also ensures that changes to parts, systems, and their associated links are updated and accessible to the life-cycle support participants.
The project’s first phase integrated the vast amount of DOD maintenance and life-cycle sustainment data into the codified Teamcenter workflow of NAVAIR’s Manufacturing Model Management System (3MS). This system provides in-house manufacturing resources and gives suppliers the verified data packages used in repairing or replacing the components necessary for maintaining fleet readiness. Specifically, the 3MS delivers verified 3D solid models and associated data required for parts to be manufactured including CAD/CAE/reverse engineering scan data, OEM 2D drawings, and more.
In the second phase, the team maintained and provided access to the data across multiple physical locations, enabling digital multi-site collaboration. This was successfully demonstrated via a use case with the F/A-18 Hornet gun blast diffuser. The Teamcenter workflow management makes certain that the appropriate participants can accomplish the correct tasks and sign off on their work within a configuration-managed controlled environment.
In the final phase, the team worked at FRC East to manage technical data for the V-22 Osprey aircraft, including 3D CAD data, 2D drawings, workflow processes, data management, access control, and visualization. Teamcenter capabilities enable authorized individuals to perform searches on and within the data, quickly and easily. Using Teamcenter as the PLM backbone delivered a more efficient technical data flow across the organization, enabling process management from engineering through planning to manufacturing.
Overall, using Teamcenter increased collaboration among DOD locations and their suppliers, resulting in a more efficient, streamlined process across the service life cycle. The DOD benefited by receiving better information and cooperation between the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and the owner/operator. Teamcenter became the single source bill of material (BOM) information, delivering the analytical tools needed to establish accuracy and completeness for all stakeholders. This software greatly reduced the number and cost of errors, which ultimately improved fleet readiness. Additional benefits include a trackable service activity history, improved repair turn-around time, and obsolescence management.