The Army goes for Predictive Maintenance

REDSTONE ARSENAL -- If you drive a car you know that periodically you have to change the oil. It's called preventive maintenance, and manufacturers have recommendations on when it should be done. It's all about keeping the vehicle running.

The Army has the same sore of recommendations for their vehicles and systems. Now though, there's a new idea for better maintenance.

"Predictive maintenance allows us to get ahead of equipment failures," said Col. John Kuenzli at the Army Materiel Command.  Kuenzli is the Army's Predictive Maintenance Project Lead.

Predictive maintenance would take performance and maintenance data from the last 10-to-20 years on just about every vital component of every vehicle or weapons system.  The data would be used to predict when a failure might happen. That's information that would be vital to someone like a Tank Commander.

"He can tell before the mission, which tank is probably not going to make the mission or be at risk of mechanical failure," said Col. Kuenzli.

While the Army certainly knows its equipment and systems very well, their expertise doesn't lie with taking the mass of data and predicting failure.

"We're really asking industry to put their research and development skills to work and develop a capability," said the Colonel.

Certainly, the capability will help Army readiness, but it will do something else too.

"We're talking about an effort that saves money in the billions annually. That's the potential here," said Col. Kuenzli.

Back to the Tank Commander who uses predictive maintenance to determine whether he has vehicles that are going to fail.

"And we can swap that vehicle out, or we can swap a component out for repair and significantly increase the probability of success. Now we're talking about reducing risk to soldiers. We're talking about saving soldiers' lives," said Col. John Kuenzli.

The Colonel will be part of an industry session on  Wednesday and Thursday at the Jackson Center in Cummings Research Park.  The Predictive Maintenance program goals will be explained to prospective industry partners.  They will then submit proposals for a prototype system utilizing the collected data to predict failure and maintenance needs.  That system would be tested for a year starting in February.  The goal is to have predictive maintenance become an Army-wide program as quickly as possible.

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