Metal Finishing Development Program

NCMS Project #: 140422

Problem: Due to the aging Federal workforce and the fact that at least 50% of all current Federal employees will be eligible for retirement within five years, all DoD Depot-level Maintenance Activities will be facing a severe shortage of skilled metal finishing artisans.  The loss of the existing skill workforce through attrition will have a profound impact on productivity and result in increased maintenance costs and turnaround time.  In many cases, on-the-job training (OJT) offers an inconsistent and unstructured superficial depth of process knowledge which results in rework, increased cycle time and can lead to significant quality issues.  In addition, as new technologies emerge, the introduction of those new technologies becomes increasingly difficult when the workforce has only superficial process knowledge.

Benefit: Immediate expected benefits include a reduction of rework and part damage caused by metal finishing processing errors.  Cycle time reduction and improved quality are anticipated by performing processes correctly the first time.  Long-term benefits include a standardized training program transferrable across DoD Activities creating a workforce with a higher level of technical agility (they will know the theory behind what they are doing) and competency which ultimately greatly increased depot readiness.

Solution/Approach: A self-study computer-based training (CBT) curriculum will consist of modular e-Learning lessons covering common metal finishing processes including electroplating (chrome, nickel, copper), anodizing (aluminum and optional titanium), conversion coatings (black oxide, aluminum, magnesium and manganese) and basic finishing concepts (shop floor electrochemistry, solution concentra­tions, troubleshooting) will be developed that can be deployed across the DoD Maintenance Activities.

The approach is to utilize a combination of the several media formats including video, graphics, 3D modeling, Adobe Flash animations and simulations, green screening as well as exceptional in-house instructional design capabilities to create an outstanding on-line curriculum.  Each lesson module would also contain a student proficiency test and recordkeeping features.

Impact on Warfighter: Reduced turnaround of key military hardware (e.g. helicopter bearings and journals) through crucial metal finishing operations is expected (currently 20-30% of total rework done is estimated to be the result of inexperienced/poorly trained workers).

In additional to metal finishing, effective training is required in a myriad of other key processes performed at the depots including painting, cleaning and composites repair among many others.  This project should provide a template for further training and development initiatives within the DoD depots, which when implemented, will have an even greater impact on the warfighter.

DOD Participation:

  • U.S. Army (CCAD)
  • U.S. Air Force (OC-ALC)
  • U.S. Navy (FRC East)
  • U.S. Navy (FRC Southwest)

Industry Participation:

  • CAI Resources
  • Advanced Tooling Corporation
  • Boeing
  • Elsyca
  • NCMS

Final Report