Digital Pen and Paper for Capturing Maintenance Data

NCMS Project #: 140501

Problem: Data is invariably captured during the maintenance process with pen and paper.  The reasons are many and varied, often involving ease of use, ease of training, and ruggedness of tools (pens) and artifacts (paper).  However, data taken on such paper needs to be rekeyed, and information that may be important may be lost, such as time when data was written.  Many attempts have been made to create a solution for computerized maintenance documentation, but often these attempts are rejected by end-users as inappropriate to the situation (e.g., technicians with grease on their hands).  Costs associated with creating a rugged computing solution appropriate to maintenance activities are often prohibitive.  In most DoD Maintenance Centers, information technology (IT) infrastructure is limited in production environments and in most settings the use of wireless transmission is not allowed.

Benefit: NCMS/DoD evaluation of this project in DoD depots would leverage previous research and development to further transition this time- and money-saving technology into wider DoD use.

Digital pen and paper technology enables a user to continue to employ his/her standard forms and work processes, with minimal retraining.

Solution/Approach: In an effort to take advantage of new technology to reduce overall cost of maintenance, members of the Advanced Aircraft Technology (AAT) Integrated Program Team (IPT) at NAVAIR’s Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) Southwest recognized the opportunity to overcome existing IT limitations and drastically improve the process for data collection using Adapx’s Capturx digital pen technology.

FRC Southwest proposes to deploy and test a solution based on Adapx’s Capturx digital pen and paper.  Capturx COTS product line derives from DARPA SBIR work, and a previous DoD investment of approximately $1M, along with another $30M venture capital funding to revise and commercialize.

In conjunction with FRC Southwest, Adapx will perform a controlled study of the benefits/drawbacks from using the digital pen/paper solution.  The proposed work will document time savings and ROI per user and per plane.  Two months’ worth of processing will be documented.

Impact on Warfighter:

  • Flexible data capture with digital pen and paper allows substantial increase in speed of data transcription and audit with significant reduction in man-hours throughout the maintenance data evaluation chain, resulting in rapid return of maintenance product to the use of the warfighter.
  • Based on calculations from NAVAIR, it is anticipated that use of the digital pen for maintenance documentation, coupled with review for accuracy, will save approximately 60 hours per plane.  A conservative estimate of cost savings is $3,068 per plane, for 50 planes, yielding $1,831,596 over the life of the F/A-18 HFH program based on 597 total aircraft.

DOD Participation:

  • U.S. Navy (NAVAIR FRC SW)

Industry Participation:

  • Adapx, Inc.
  • NCMS

Final Report