Casting Knowledge Reuse-Based Cost Advisor

NCMS Project #: 140390

Problem: One of the key hindrances to ensuring readiness has been increased parts obsolescence due to the expiration of OEM support of aging systems.  As a result Defense procurement agencies are forced to rely on a handful of suppliers which increases costs for parts and means longer procurement cycle times.  This has led to an increase in operations and support cost as part of the overall Defense budget which now exceeds 35% of Air Force budget despite substantial reduction in flying hours.  In fact, analysis of lifecycle cost of ownership of Warfighter systems reveals that logistics support cost is 60% of lifecycle costs as compared to 28% acquisition cost.  Castings and forgings with their very long lead time cycles are important elements of the problem.

An Intelligent and Dynamic Advisory System (IDEAS) that reuses existing casting knowledge to provide users with real-time advice on the selection of optimal casting processes and “should costs” based on part design criteria can go a long way in reducing development, maintenance and purchasing cycle times and costs.  For Defense contractors and procure­ment and maintenance agencies, such a system would be invaluable in their efforts to ensure mission readiness of aging and current Weapon systems.  The proposed project will focus on the development of a system that will be specific to Warfighter programs and will allow maintenance depots, logistics and procurement agencies to tackle the growing problems of increased lead time and costs for procurement of castings for current and aging systems.

Benefit: The key goals in achieving Warfighter readiness are to:

  • Significantly reduce procurement cycle time
  • Achieve substantial decrease in material purchase costs
  • Minimize maintenance downtime
  • Ensure 100% on time delivery of repair and overhauled weapon systems.

Solution/Approach: The project will enhance and use existing technologies from Imaginestics and Purdue University (IDEAS, i-Advisor, 3D Shape Recognizer) to achieve the following goals:

  • For Phase I of the project the major goal will be to demonstrate the feasibility of developing a Casting Knowledge Reuse-Based Cost Advisor prototype that can provide users with real-time advice on optimal processes and “should costs”
  • Conduct a pilot project to demonstrate the validity
    of the proposed advisory prototype with respect to process and cost advice using actual cast parts provided by Lockheed Martin and the depots
  • Demonstrate the ability to extract design features and shape complexities that are needed for identifying optimum processes and “should cost”
  • Demonstrate the ability to identify suitable suppliers based on capability. Details of foundry capabilities will be available through American Foundry Society (AFS) and Ashland Casting Solutions
  • Develop strategy for automatic update of cost and process data, and of supplier capabilities.

Lockheed Martin and DLA will provide part designs for system testing.  H.A. Burrow and AFS will provide casting process knowledge.  AFS will provide access to its casting provider database.

Impact on Warfighter:

  • Significant reduction in cycle time in procurement of parts for aging weapon systems leading to reduction in flow-days for maintenance
  • Substantial reduction in procurement costs with identification of more cost-efficient processes, better understanding of “should cost” and key cost drivers, and through a potential increase in the supplier base
  • Reduced maintenance downtime for aging weapon systems ensuring substantial enhancement in the capabilities for the Weapon Readiness Program.

DOD Participation:

  • Defense Logistics Agency
  • U.S. Air Force (OO-ALC)

Industry Participation:

  • Lockheed Martin
  • Imaginestics
  • H.A. Burrow Pattern Works
  • Purdue University
  • American Foundry Society (AFS)
  • Ford
  • NCMS

Final Report