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AEDC’s predictive maintenance team lauded with prestigious award

In an e-mail sent to AEDC’s leadership, Terrence O’Hanlon, the publisher of and Uptime® Magazine, said, “Your team has a great deal to be proud of as reaching this level of performance takes a great deal of time, effort, management support and most of all, teamwork.”

According to David Hurst, manager of ATA’s reliability engineering branch, the award was presented Nov. 8 to representatives of AEDC’s predictive maintenance program team at Solutions 2.0 in Bonita Springs, Fla.

The Solutions 2.0 event was a combination of the International Maintenance Conference, the Predictive Maintenance Conference, the Operations Performance Summit and the Lubrication World Conference.

“This is the second time in three years that we have won this award,” said Hurst, who is proud of the team effort it took to receive recognition this year. “Uptime magazine is a reliability and maintenance magazine; it’s an international magazine that goes all over the world.

“Three or four years ago they started sponsoring the PdM [predictive and preventive maintenance] program of the year awards and they would pick out a particular aspect, like infrared or ultrasound and then they had the overall program of the year.”

Hurst credits Bart Jones, director of ATA operations and maintenance department, with pushing their team to go for the overall PdM award. However, Hurst said it took 100 percent from everyone to make it actually happen.

“The overall program of the year award looks at all aspects of your program,” Hurst said. “It looks at the technologies you’re using, the processes that you use, the plan that you have for future growth - it’s not looking for a perfect program, but it’s looking at do you have the pieces in place to continue to improve and are you making an impact to your equipment and to your reliability and maintenance.”

Hurst said being evaluated for the award was an interesting experience in itself.

“It’s a fairly rigorous process; we went through three stages of judging,” he said. “The first two stages were conducted as an independent assessment of our program without our direct participation and then we got an e-mail [saying], ‘Congratulations, you’ve made it to the third stage.’ Then we had an interview with Uptime Magazine and we spent about an hour and a half on the phone with them, going through the third stage interview process. Then we found out a few days later that we had won the award. So, it’s a big deal in the maintenance and reliability community.”

Chris Mears, a lead industrial engineer with ATA’s asset operations and maintenance improvements branch, had been tasked to help communicate what the preventive maintenance team had accomplished at AEDC.

“My role on this [award evaluation] was to get everything together and [determine] how we could characterize our programs,” Mears explained. “David [Hurst] entrusted me to [work with our team to] put together a document to describe our programs ... the key pieces that they focused on this time wasn’t so much on the technology side as it was on the improvements to the program overall.”

Mears mentioned some sample questions.

“How does your failure modes and effects analysis and developing your maintenance strategy fit into your PdM [preventive and predictive maintenance] programs?” he said. “So, we looked at our FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis) program and our development of asset management strategies, which is our maintenance philosophy that we’re going to have here. How does root cause analysis fit into it and how does PdM fit into our overall program?”

Mears said AEDC is unique in a number of ways, including all of the assets at Arnold that require a complex and nuanced approach to achieve an effective preventive maintenance program.

“A lot of people who submit for this award don’t have the breadth of, or number of equipment items that we have here at AEDC,” Mears said. “Being the lead test center in the nation, we have a lot of unique equipment - a lot of people in the world don’t have those types of equipment. Also, we’re dealing with equipment that is 50 to 60-plus years old so they’re very interested in how we can use PdM technologies in making sure that equipment stays up and running. If that equipment fails, then, we may have a test program that’s delayed from meeting their mission, which may cause an impact of a million dollars per day in their test program.”

Ramesh Gulati, ATA’s asset management and reliability planning manager, said it is important to put the whole preventive maintenance program into perspective.

“Preventive maintenance is our basic asset [equipment] sustainment program,” he explained. “It means setting up routine calendar or run-based inspections and repairs. A preventive maintenance program is optimized, or enhanced with [preventive maintenance oriented] technologies such as oil analysis, vibration, infrared thermography, ultrasonic and on and offline motor testing, etc. We apply all of these technologies, depending upon asset criticality.”

The program is led by ATA’s asset operations and maintenance improvements section, consisting of six conditioned maintenance (CBM) engineers, six CBM craftsmen, and 14 support engineers, as well as data analysts and administrative staff personnel.

“Each of these very talented professionals contributes to the program and is integral to its success,” Hurst said. “The support we receive from the maintenance organization is a huge part of the success as well and has helped to grow the program to our current level. The fact that they understand the need for predictive maintenance and the role it plays in the reliability of our systems is instrumental to our success. The partnership with this team really sets our program apart from other industries.”

Uptime Award Winners Image

From left to right - Posing for a group photo are Bill Hane, ATA lead machinist; Jennifer Daugherty, ATA conditioned based project manager; Ramesh Gulati, ATA’s asset management and reliability planning manager; Bart Jones, director of ATA operations and maintenance department; Terry O’Hanlon - publisher Uptime® Magazine, David Hurst, manager of ATA’s reliability engineering branch; Don Brandt, senior engineer with ATA’s conditioned based management team; and Tim Layton, ATA’s aero-propulsion plant operations manager.

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