Maintenance in the World’s Military Units

Posted under Blog by Bob Stallard, Senior Consultant, served as Munitions Maintenance Specialist in the United States Air Force.

Around the world, nations have military units operating on land, sea, or in the air. Their primary mission is to defend the country, its territories, and interests. In many countries, military units serve additional purposes which may include rescue missions, humanitarian relief, embassy security, disaster relief, law enforcement, border patrol, and other missions as required. Supporting these objectives required that high readiness for combat must be sustained for all units.

One common challenge for the world’s military units is equipment maintenance. The purpose of a military maintenance program is to generate/regenerate combat capability and to preserve the capital investment of weapons systems and equipment to enable mission accomplishment. Military equipment maintenance is based upon on the principle that the useful service life of equipment is achieved when the item is operated within its intended purposes, parameters, and maintained in accordance with its designed or engineered specifications.

Military maintenance is additionally challenging in that their equipment must operate day or night, in various conditions such as extreme cold weather, salt water, desert, jungle, mountain, and urban settings. It also means, in some cases, that maintenance may need to be performed under those conditions.  

My first assignment in the military was focused on the maintenance of munitions handling equipment (trailers). These units were capable of carrying heavy loads of both conventional and nuclear weapons. Failure of this equipment could have devastating effects on safety and mission completion, and therefore maintenance practices, in the form of technical orders, were very stringent. Weekly equipment inspections were required to check for abnormal wear, accidental damage, lighting, tire pressure, and overall condition of the trailers. Periodic maintenance of tires, bearing, steering, tow bars/hooks, and brake systems were performed by our team. I learned a great deal about proper maintenance practices by following a detailed maintenance job plan (technical orders), with supervisor observation and approval checkpoints recorded.  

Military equipment maintenance operations may vary by branch of the military however they generally fall into two major categories; field level and depot level maintenance.  

Field level maintenance

Field level maintenance for most countries is generally characterized as on or near system maintenance, often using line replaceable units and component replacement, by the owning unit, using tools and test equipment found in that unit. Field Level maintenance is not limited to simply “remove and replace” actions but also allows for repair of components or end items on or near the system. Field maintenance also includes adjustments, alignments, services, applying approved field-level modification work orders, fault/failure diagnoses, battle damage assessments, repairs, and recoveries. Field level maintenance is usually repair and return to the user and includes maintenance actions performed by operators.

Depot maintenance

Depot maintenance for most nations is maintenance accomplished on end items or on a component, accessory, assembly, subassembly, or plug-in unit, either on the system or after it is removed. Depot maintenance can be performed by either depot personnel or contractor personnel when authorized. Items are returned to the supply system, or by exception directly to a using unit after maintenance is performed at this level. The intent of maintenance at this level is to perform commodity-oriented repairs on all supported items to restore them to a national standard, providing a consistent and measurable level of reliability, and to execute maintenance actions not able to be performed at the field level of maintenance.

Progressive Maintenance Programs

Many of the world’s military maintenance units employ preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance, reliability centered maintenance, and IOT initiatives much the same as in the commercial/industrial maintenance sector. It is notable, however, that the adoption of these programs tends to lag behind the commercial sector. The reasons for this are many. First, it can take years to implement these programs in military units due to their size, slow chain of command approval process, and funding availability. Second, the military reassigns personnel based upon its needs.  While assignment policy varies widely nation to nation, personnel are ordered to where they are determined to best serve and grow, with perhaps a small factor for location or duty preference considered. This means that staff changes can often slow or derail program initiatives especially if the program “champion” is ordered to another posting or leaves the service.

As in any maintenance organization, continuous maintenance process improvements necessitate the need for a robust, centralized CMMS or EAM system, with the features required to support the objectives of the military maintenance group. In some cases, the system chosen must serve all branches of the nation’s military and therefore may tend to be more general in nature. This may mean doing without needed capabilities if it only serves one of three branches of the armed forces. Lack of features may also lead to expensive software customizations required to meet the needs of the specific service branch. This further complicates support, integration, and future upgrades. However, the alternative of a manual system is unacceptable to meet the mission goals as described earlier.

At VIZIYA, we recognize the vital role that the military plays in every nation. And further, acknowledge that effective maintenance is at the heart of combat readiness. Military maintenance units need to effectively plan and schedule assets and produce strategic, relevant data tailored to their unique situations.  Having the right tools to manage your work process is essential. Our WorkAlign® Suite has been designed to enhance each step of the maintenance workflow. We integrate and partner with all of the leading maintenance systems – including Oracle eAM, JDE CAM, Peoplesoft CAM, SAP PM, IBM Maximo, Infor, and EMPAC.

VIZIYA WorkAlign® Suite

WorkAlign® Scheduler is focused on your assets and enhance your planning and scheduling maintenance process. Our solution is a completely web-based application that allows dynamic scheduling of resources and crews, overall schedule optimization, and overall efficiency.

The predictive capabilities of WorkAlign® Analytics give decision-makers the ability to visualize the condition of assets, detect potential problems, and prevent disruptions through reports, graphical dashboards and trending analysis. Analytics identifies safety and regulatory compliance issues with “out-of-the-box” reports and dashboards.

WorkAlign® Warranty Tracker delivers actionable intelligence to track and claim your warrantable repairs. Fully integrated with your ERP, our solution allows you to track warranty and review potential vendor claims for reimbursement.

WorkAlign® Mobile delivers robust capabilities and maximizes the utilization of plant workers. With easy access to information throughout the EAM workflow, workers can efficiently capture work order data, materials activities, asset history, and readings, as well as view and enter maintenance plan results.

WorkAlign® Maintenance Budgeting simplifies asset-based budgeting with real-time views of predicted work orders. Our solution delivers three budget creation options: auto-budget based on forecasted work, zero-based budgeting, or historic actuals plus the option to manage contingency funds.

WorkAlign® IIoT allows organizations to connect assets at an entirely new level. It transforms organizations from reactive to predictive maintenance processes by monitoring asset health in real-time and updating maintenance teams on critical asset changes.

VIZIYA has worked collaboratively with the largest and most sophisticated maintenance organizations to optimize their asset performance.

To learn more about how VIZIYA works to better Military Maintenance practices, contact one of our reps now:

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