HUMS – A GROWING REQUIREMENT
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
The desire to reduce the ‘logistic tail’ on the battlefield has resulted in a surge of interest for Health and Usage Management Systems (HUMS) on a growing list of military vehicles. Originally pioneered for use on fixed wing and helicopters for safety reasons, HUMS technology now enables users to diagnose vehicle maintenance and supply procedures via satellite and data links from ‘factory to foxhole.’ A number of companies have developed systems which enables this technology.
Tina Burns of Syen, the Dytecna HUMS unit told BATTLESPACE, “On military vehicles Health and Usage Management Systems (HUMS) offer the basis for more accurate and timely information about the condition of the vehicle and the way it is being used.”
That information can lead to a number of operational benefits that include:
Higher vehicle and systems reliability and availability; Reduced aborted or incomplete missions; Improved system performance consistency; Predictable maintenance free operational periods; Improved crew and support safety; Lower through-life maintenance costs; Reduced logistics footprint; Lower warranty costs; Improved and more competitive vehicle designs.
HUMS provides information that is of benefit to users both on the vehicle and at various levels of support off the vehicle. On the vehicle, the system can: Monitor key operational parameters and resources; Log usage and event data; Record the main vehicle asset identities; Provide the crew with improved system; Warn the crew of a degrading system; Provide failure warning; Provide diagnostics and failure identification Off the vehicle the system provides: Storage of historic data; Detailed failure diagnostics Trend and predictive analysis; Vehicle and fl eet availability analysis; Vehicle and fleet usage analysis; Maintenance scheduling and recording Mission success prediction analysis.
The acquisition of ESSI was a key enabler which allowed DRS to use its existing key computer technologies to develop the ESSI logistic management systems.
“I am very excited about the synergies produced with the ESSI acquisition,” Steve Schorer of DRS said, “We now have a natural marriage between C3 and Logistics. At the moment there is no link between on-board computers such as our V4 Appliqué FBCB2 unit and Test & Energy Management. It would not be difficult to merge the capabilities of the systems to enable diagnostics and fuel consumption to be displayed on the Command & Control computer giving the vehicle the ability to pass up to date diagnostic, fuel and ammunition consumption on a real-time basis. In addition, given our expertise in the provision of HUMS systems for the Bradley and M1A2 armoured vehicles, a link to the HUMS system would provide Prognostics and spares provision. We care also working on integrating the Comtech vehicle tracking system into the V4 computer. There would be huge cost benefits resulting from the merger of these systems as well as saving space. The whole system could be managed by one integrated computer as envisaged with FCS. In addition to this new hardware capability we have also inherited a considerable expertise in software development that is being pushed through to our C3 segment. The next stage is an FBCB2 Lite system which would enable dismounted operations.”
This initiative was rewarded with the announcement on August 31st 2006 that DRS Technologies had been awarded a $10 million contract to develop and integrate a Condition Based Maintenance Information system for the U.S. Army’s ground combat vehicle fleet. The contract’s objectives are to develop a capability to monitor, record and communicate operating parameters to an enterprise logistics network and subsequently apply a set of decision-support tools to conduct logistics maintenance analyses for the U.S. Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Abrams Main Battle Tanks and Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles.