Black Hawk in shop? Dashboard tracks parts reuse

Redstone Arsenal is set to accelerate Black Hawk revamp.

Courtesy of Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.

An executive dashboard could track one of the largest efforts ever undertaken by the Army's Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.

Redstone Arsenal is refurbishing more than 1,200 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. The massive effort requires coordinating work by parts suppliers, helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. of Stratford, Conn., and the military units from which the helicopters will come.

The arsenal ordinarily revamps one or two helicopters a month, but now it must up that rate to 60 or 90 a year. It will convert UH-60A and UH-60L aircraft into UH-60Ms.

An Army review board will examine the revitalization plan next February to determine whether it is ready for initial production. By this fall, the arsenal must have its workflow model completed. Officials have asked for an executive dashboard to reflect all the critical business processes.

'We want to have the dashboard ready, so if any questions come up in preparation for [the review board], we can answer the questions,' said Dimitri Gerousis, manufacturing lead for the UH-60M program.

He wants the dashboard to show contractors' throughput and production capabilities, average turnaround times and other metrics. By modeling the effort as a whole, he can see how one change would affect the entire production line.

In the past, parts or labor shortages or suppliers going out of business could shut down repair work. Gerousis wants to anticipate, or even prevent, such delays.

Simulation

The Redstone dashboard will be unusual in not only summarizing what is happening at the moment but also projecting future performance via Witness simulation software from Lanner Group Inc. of Houston.

If the rate of final assembly changes, the simulation software can calculate the parts and tooling needed to meet the new rate. The calculations have many steps. Many of the repair parts will come from older aircraft, so the inventory of parts on hand will depend on the rate at which older helicopters are disassembled.

Counterbalancing the need for parts is the need to keep the Army's readiness level as high as possible. The dashboard will let Gerousis adjust these variables and view the outcomes.

'It's a very complex process, so automation is the only way we're going to have the visibility to be proactive,' said Daniel Holder, an electronics engineer who is developing the dashboard at the arsenal's Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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