Smart Machines Pilot Project – Phase II (SMP2P)

NCMS Project #: 140389

Problem: Today, valuable information lies buried inside individual machine controls on the shop floor.  Ex­tracting information from these isolated islands is difficult and time consuming.  Lean staffed, multi-shift operations make it difficult for operating personnel to maintain an accurate situational awareness from one shift to the next.  Maintenance personnel receive scant advance warning and are called to diagnose faults based on a filtered verbal expla­nation of the problem.  Loss of older experienced personnel causes a loss of institutional knowledge.  Upstream processes (design) often don’t receive feedback from downstream processes (manufacturing).  The cost/benefit ratio to attempt to gather, compile, and analyze this buried information using conventional means is too high.

As a result, operating, support, and management personnel are left to make decisions based on incomplete and subjective information.  Problems and inefficiencies remain hidden.  Opportunities for “continuous improvement” are not realized because the supporting facts are not known.

  • What is the true short-term and long-term performance history of this machine? Is it changing?
  • What is the cycle time and cost to make this part? Has it changed?  Is the standard time correct?
  • Has the part process consistency changed? Is the machine being over (or under) stressed?
  • What cutting tools am I using on which machines? Am I getting the best usage in all cases?
  • Is that machine starting to show health problems, will it be available when I need it?
  • Am I getting the best utilization from this machine? When has it been idle and why?


  • Reduction in process variation
  • Process efficiency
  • Equipment and process health
  • Integration with Maintenance Management Systems
  • Enabler for condition-based maintenance of manufacturer equipment

Solution/Approach: A limited pilot is installed at Red River Army Depot.  Machine tool monitoring installations are active at Warner Robins and Sikorsky.  None of the pilots are yet ready for transition to production use. Plans are to upgrade the Red River installation before the year end and install the remaining pilots in early 2007.

Impact on Warfighter: The Phase I limited pilot at Red River yielded results in terms of improved process consis­tency.  The Warner Robins and Sikorsky pilots haven’t yet run long enough to identify specific benefits.

DOD Participation:

  • U.S. Army (Red River)
  • U.S. Air Force (OO-ALC)
  • U.S. Navy (Pearl Harbor)
  • U.S. Air Force (WR-ALC)
  • U.S. Navy (NADEP Jacksonville) (observer)

Industry Participation:

  • Cincinnati Machine
  • Vought Aircraft
  • Sikorsky Aircraft
  • NIST
  • NCMS

Final Report