Analyzing Boat Maintenance Data Isn’t Rocket Science… Or Is It?
Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) operates hundreds of boats all the way from a 7-meter Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) to a 78-foot patrol boat, as well as construction equipment such as cranes, bulldozers, pumps, cranes, vehicles and chain saws and Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) equipment.
Maintaining all of it comes under the watchful eye of Force Maintenance Director Dave Noel.
“I’m the guy that fixes the equipment we buy,” Noel said. “Once it’s fielded, it’s our job to keep it operational, and do what it takes to support the warfighter.”
For Noel, the measurable output is maintenance, but desired outcome is readiness. “We’ve established metrics, and can analyze and predict how effectively a system or piece of equipment performs.”
Noel said NECC entered a relationship with a company that has developed technology through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to help collect and sort data to provide that analysis.
That technology came to NECC in a rather indirect fashion.
“We’ve been working with an SBIR company, Frontier Technology Inc. (FTI), to develop a readiness assessment engine,” Noel said.
“Dave Noel found out about our technology because he was looking for a tool to take in disparate data and analyze the best way to manage storage, maintenance, and repair of combat equipment,” said FTI’s Senior Vice President of Operations, Jeremy Andrews. “We were originally developing a real-time data management tool for missile telemetry for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). It was required to take in disparate data, analyze it, and visualize the information. The Army picked up on it, and then the Navy at NSWC Corona. Dave Noel found out about it, because he was looking for a tool to take in disparate data and analyze the best way to manage storage, maintenance and repair of combat equipment. Our first task order with NECC was based on that original MDA SBIR.”
Because of Noel’s work, he was recently recognized with the Tibbetts Award from the Small Business Administration (SBA) for his success with and support of the SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. The Tibbetts Awards are named after Roland Tibbetts, the founder of the SBIR Program.
The SBIR program invests in innovative technologies to support warfighters, and helps small companies grow.
As large amounts of NECC equipment were being returned from the Middle East, the Navy had to decide what to do with it. Using the capability developed from the SBIR, Frontier was then contracted by the Navy to conduct a business case analysis (BCA) to determine the best ways to maintain or store the gear.
Noel has used FTI’s technology to best predict when maintenance is required rather than react when something breaks. Noel said that fixing things is important, but the most challenging part of his job is trying to prevent things from breaking. “Anytime we can make it better, that’s my goal. I don’t want to fail the warfighter.”
Other stories from June 2021 issue
- Interview: Chris Deegan, President & Chief Executive, Gibbs & Cox page: 10
- Waterways Commerce Cutter: It's Time for an Upgrade page: 16
- The Navy’s Big Fleet of Small Boats page: 22
- Analyzing Boat Maintenance Data Isn’t Rocket Science… Or Is It? page: 27
- Metal Shark: Moving Fast Ahead page: 28
- Multimission Vessels: Interest Across All Sectors page: 32
- A Mini-Tractor for the US Navy page: 37
- Tech File: SOLID page: 38