Game Changers: Changing the Maintenance and Sustainment Paradigm

The Cooperative Agreement that NCMS offers through its CTMA Program is a unique contracting vehicle for industry, academia, and the DoD’s sustainment community to work in collaboration to find, develop, and invent new and innovative technologies that enhance readiness at best cost.

CTMA is an efficient program that does a lot of the heavy lifting for our government partners within the DoD maintenance and sustainment communities. While CTMA projects save time and funds and increase productivity, the overarching goal is always to assist warfighter readiness. That’s a lofty assignment but one that CTMA has fulfilled over 400 times in the last 20 years, saving the DoD billions of dollars. Collaborating with all the services, CTMA listens to their unmet needs and finds commercially-available technologies that can accomplish the goals.

“All of our projects are important, but in my opinion, we work with some that are true game changers. The two examples below could revolutionize the way that work is done for our country’s maintainers. With the Stand-up Abrading Machine, we are taking maintainers off their hands and knees as they manually remove the non-skid surface coating that takes hundreds of hours and giving them an ergonomically friendly piece of equipment that does the job in less time and with significantly less wear and tear to their bodies. The Automated Armory system is revolutionizing the Marine Corps’ traditional paper inventory process of checking out armaments and keeping accurate track of critical and expensive equipment,” says Debbie Lilu, CTMA Program Director for NCMS.

CTMA projects close the gap between grounded and ready weapon systems. Sometimes those projects turn into more than filling a technology gap—sometimes they turn into maintenance and sustainment game changers.

Temple Allen’s SAM™ Scaling Tool

Temple Allen already had a wide range of surface preparation equipment popular within the commercial and military communities. But a chance meeting between Temple Allen General Manager Cele Bryan and Debbie Lilu at a composite show at FRCSW changed the course of Temple Allen’s thinking.

“Debbie was impressed with our technology and invited us to the Technology Showcase at the shipyard at Yokosuka, Japan,” says Bryan. “While we were there a lieutenant introduced Temple Allen to the Aurand scaling tool commonly used on non-skid deck surfaces and told us that if we could give it a really good handle so maintainers could use it standing up to save the wear and tear on their backs and knees, it would be revolutionary.”

The engineers at Temple Allen were able to design a new member of the SAM™ (Stand-up Abrasion Machine) family—the SAM Scaling Tool—incorporating the original Aurand device maintainers have been using for years but integrating it with a vibration damper, resting pegs, shaft, and control handle. When that same lieutenant saw the redesign, he was amazed and very excited to try it out with his maintenance artisans.

The SAM family of tools offers an ergonomic alternative for abrading the tops of aircraft wings, the decks of ships or oil platforms, wind turbine blade molds, and any other large horizontal surface that currently requires artisans to position a tool on the ground, typically by working on their hands and knees. In addition to protecting them from the vibration typical of the hand tools used in the industry, the SAM also prevents the knee and back injuries associated with these awkward positions and high grip forces. The SAM has many benefits but most fall into four categories: Health & Safety, Ergonomics, Productivity, and Finish Quality.

The SAM family and Temple Allen’s larger semi-automated EMMA™ sanding equipment has now been demonstrated at Naval shipyards and Air Force bases, earning high praise. One Air Force reservist is considering both the EMMA belly sander and the rail-mounted EMMA system for placement on lifts.

“Through the Technology Showcases, CTMA has provided the opportunity for innovative technologies to be brought directly to the maintainers,” says Susan Simms, Implementation Manager with NAVSEA. “Temple Allen did a great job of taking feedback from the Technology Showcase at the Naval shipyard in Yokosuka, Japan and creating a product that will be useful to the shipyard maintainers. Currently, mechanics and sailors wield the heavy Aurand deck scaler on their hands and knees to chip away the surface coating when it needs to be replaced. The SAM Scaling Tool could radically improve that physically-demanding task. This could be a significant game-changer for those maintainers!”

Automated Armory® tracks critical assets in seconds

Imagine if the U.S. Marine Corps had to keep paper, handwritten records on all their armaments that included small arms, optics, ammunition, ordnance equipment, and other assets kept within their armories. These paper records would detail who had signed out the armament, how long they’ve had it, its maintenance health, and other vital statistics. Unfortunately, most Marine Corps armories still do use paper records, which have proven to be ripe for reporting errors and costly due to lost assets. At times there can be thousands of armaments unaccounted for, not due to theft or neglect, but human error or tracking mistakes during shipment. Accounting for all these assets is a critical yet time-consuming task.

The Marines needed an armory asset management solution that would improve the speed and accuracy of armory inventory management, minimize manual data input errors, and create an electronic audit trail.

Thanks to a former Marine, the ingenuity of Troika Solutions, and the CTMA Program, there is a new asset tracking system that can fulfill the Marine Corps armory tracking needs.

Automated Armory is an automated inventory solution that manages the issue, reporting, draw, recovery, and maintenance processes for serialized and non-serialized small arms, optics, ammo, and ordnance equipment and other functions within an armory. Incorporating Common Access Card (CAC), Item Unique Identification (IUID), Digital Signature, and Biometrics, Automated Armory can be configured to the specific requirements of the user, location, and business rules operating in a disconnected environment (garrison or deployed). This system also collects important maintenance and other lifecycle data to help the Marines keep track of their equipment in real time. Using the Field Supply and Maintenance Analysis Office (FSMAO) Checklist requirements, the Automated Armory can replicate all elements of mandated asset information.

Currently, 22 Marine Corps units have been equipped with and are testing the new Automated Armory that can keep track of approximately 27,000 unique items housed in each armory. When Marines go out on a mission they typically carry at least eight different scannable items from the armory including night vision goggles, flashlights, compasses, suppressors, and some Marines can carry many more. With so many pieces of equipment, it wasn’t uncommon to lose track using the traditional paper method with handwritten weapons/armament cards or individually created Excel spreadsheets that needed to be manually updated on a daily basis. This was cause for major concern, especially for the small arms that are considered at higher risk for pilferage.

“This system has taken the armories testing it to 100% accuracy and has saved hundreds of hours,” says Stuart Nachman, Director of Business Development at Troika Solutions. “Where it used to take four hours to track down a piece of equipment, now it takes two minutes. It’s a true point and click system that leaves an audit trail.”

The existing process for issuing an armament could take five to seven minutes. But with the Automated Armory system using the barcode on the CAC and simple biometrics, that process is down to mere seconds. The time to perform the twice-daily armory inventory requirement has been reduced significantly. Now the armory supervisors know who has what equipment, find where in the armory its located and can estimate with a high level of certainty its maintenance needs.

“There are numerous different types of weapons systems stored at each armory,” says Logistics Management Specialist Mike Ryan. “For example, the Basic School armory at Quantico supports the training of all Marine Corps officers and that physical inventory would take up to four days to complete. By utilizing the Automated Armory module that task was reduced to hours rather than days.”

The cost savings have been significant as well. To replace just one night vision goggle can cost $3,400 compared with the Automated Armory license that comes in at a budget-friendly $4,400 per cage.

According to Ryan, there will be upgraded modules that will serve the requirements of specialized training commands within the Marine Corps. The U.S. Navy is also evaluating the system to determine if it would meet their needs, but it could be adapted to benefit all branches of service.

“This automated system gives us peace of mind. Now we know what’s in and what’s out,” says Major Doug A. Mayorga, Ordinance Officer with the Marine Special Operations Command. “There is no acceptable loss and it supports personal accountability.”

This project has been under the auspices of CTMA for the last four years. Ryan credits the CTMA Program with expertly finding solutions to unmet DoD needs.

“The partnership with CTMA is invaluable,” says Bill Black, Founder and President of International Operations at Troika Solutions. “Their flexibility and speed at responding to customer needs is impressive. CTMA has guided us on how to best show the benefits of the Automated Armory’s value. It’s definitely a true game changer.”