Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Leveraged for Improved Readiness
The US Department of Defense (DoD) remains focused on bolstering readiness levels for all its platforms – from aircraft to ships. The Pentagon’s message has resonated well with Oshkosh Defense which, according to Mike Ivy, the company’s Senior Vice President of Global Product Support and International Programs, embraces the concept of condition-based maintenance (CBM) and understands its significant benefit on cost of ownership and vehicle availability.
In a significant change in engineering philosophy, Oshkosh’s engineering team looks for opportunities to reduce or eliminate interval-based preventive maintenance (traditional mileage/calendar) and move toward condition or prognostic approaches to maintenance. To support this strategy, the company continues to evaluate new technology and invest in the analytics to provide this real-time insight into vehicle performance and to optimise existing maintenance practices. “It is now possible to display vehicle health status and useful life predictions onboard the vehicle. The vehicle health status can also be sent directly to the customer enabling real time decision making and proactive planning to occur at all echelons of maintenance,” he explained.
Responding to the military customers’ evolving requirements, now, more than ever, vehicle maintenance requirements need to be evaluated throughout the lifecycle of a vehicle platform. Indeed, even during development, Oshkosh designs its vehicles to meet or exceed supportability requirements. “To date, the military has been focused on reducing development costs and understanding the impacts to field maintenance,” Ivy pointed out, adding “Recently, the military has expressed interest in introducing commercial technologies to help offset development costs and allow for a more focused approach to the evolution of maintenance requirements throughout the vehicle lifecycle.” Addressing this emerging interest, Oshkosh’s experience in telematics, analytics and CBM has helped provide insight, strategy and solutions to continually monitor maintenance needs on a ‘per truck’ basis – optimising vehicle readiness and minimising logistics need.
Dr. Mark Esper, US Secretary of Defense, has included predictive maintenance on his list of imperatives to help prepare his department for the future battlefield. Reflecting on this challenge, Ivy noted that artificial intelligence (AI) plays an important role in predictive maintenance, explaining “The data collected through onboard modules streams at very fast rates, making human interpretation difficult. Machine learning algorithms can use that data in conjunction with other maintenance, part, and reliability data, to generate information on system performance and readiness. Those insights are then evaluated and communicated as recommended maintenance actions.” Additionally, AI – more specifically, machine learning – can sift through vast datasets to indicate required maintenance. “AI can also determine the remaining life of vehicle components, predict when components may fail and influence supply chain maintenance requirements,” he added.
As MON has frequently observed, military services are stepping up their efforts to harness and use “big data.” Mr Ivy explained that big data is an important concept that refers to the enormity of data which continues to grow exponentially with each new generation of Tactical Wheeled Vehicles. “Onboard performance data, sensor readings, fault indicators, maintenance records, etc. are vital information required to develop and evolve existing algorithms that – in turn – drive maintenance recommendations. This information is vital to the maturity and evolution of maintenance solutions.”
Oshkosh is not going it alone on its journey to stay ahead of its military customers’ evolving maintenance requirements. Ivy pointed out that, as the OEM, Oshkosh uses its extensive supply chain to leverage CBM capabilities within targeted systems. “Working directly with manufacturers such as Allison and HED, allows for an expedited solution for the most non-invasive application of physical sensors. Additionally, our military customers will continue to be major partners. The technology surrounding predictive maintenance is evolving rapidly, and we continue to monitor this space for areas of advancement.”