High Velocity Maintenance

In early fiscal 2007,  the idea "high velocity maintenance" was outlined in a paper on how to move aircraft through a depot faster by increasing man-hours per day. In May 2007 a steering group and subsequent high performance team was established to develop the HVM concept. The high performance team was built from various disciplines across the Warners Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.; experts in maintenance requirements, funding, manpower, consumables, tooling, support equipment, engineering, facilities, information and technology. The customer, in this case Air Force Special Operations Command, was included on the steering group and the high performance team.

Outside resources were utilized to assist the team, in the form of Georgia Institute of Technology, through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between WR-ALC and the state of Georgia, and the University of Tennessee, through an AFSO21 grant. The high performance team  mapped all of the current processes that support depot maintenance; a first time all of the depot processes and supporting processes were mapped in a single integrated effort. 

Attributes of a future state necessary to obtain industry standard velocities of maintenance were identified by the high performance team through benchmarking and industry analysis. One key tenet of the future state identified is the need to reduce the variability in the maintenance requirement. Under the HVM developed future state the current package would be divided into four smaller packages accomplished at shorter intervals. Variability analysis performed by Georgia Tech and UT revealed that breaking the PDM package into four smaller work packages resulted in a much greater confidence in staying on schedule. This approach allows for a single maintenance concept that integrates field isochronal inspections into the depot level requirement and allows a better understanding of equipment condition. More frequent inductions provide better knowledge of the equipment condition which permits time to plan and become supportable. During performance of maintenance for one cycle, the evaluation and inspection is being performed for the next cycle in order to better understand the condition and plan the necessary tasks. If required the shorter interval allows the option to defer tasks until the next cycle, giving lead-time to plan.

Knowing the condition of the equipment is another key tenet of HVM which will enable sufficient lead-time to engineer a plan, obtain parts, provide training, develop infrastructure and identify equipment in order to provide a point of use delivery of everything required to perform each task with a mechanic-centric focus (Surgeon). Maximum use of kitting, standard visual work for all tasks, disciplined processes, integrated planning and decision making and robust data collection are all required to enable HVM.

The HVM approach was briefed to a team of senior officials, industry experts and academia referred to as the "Red Team" in August 2007 and progress was briefed in November 2007. Since that time the high performance team has been identifying lean events and projects required to implement an HVM proof of concept prototype. The AFSOC MC-130P fleet was identified as a potential target for the prototype effort. Once validated then the HVM process will be expanded across the C-130 fleet. The processes are being developed to be transportable and scalable so that they can be exported to all weapon systems, including commodities.

The Develop and Sustain Warfighting Systems targets for 2011 are a 20 percent improvement in aircraft availability and a 10 percent reduction in O&S funding requirements by 2011. One key aircraft availability driver is the time spent in maintenance. Benchmarking of commercial practices revealed that the civilian aviation community routinely obtains daily maintenance man-hour burn rates (velocity of maintenance) 4-10 times higher than the Air Force resulting in much less time their aircraft spend undergoing maintenance. If the U.S. Air Force can develop a process to accomplish aircraft maintenance at rates comparable to civilian aviation then an improvement in aircraft availability of at least 14 percent is possible along with greater efficiencies and a potential to reduce costs.