Aircraft armament systems Marines are responsible for maintaining launch and release devices on aircraft. This means that when a pilot pulls the trigger, the devices successfully launch away from the aircraft toward the intended target.
“It’s a way to build the readiness and experience level by leveraging advanced technologies. In the past, we received this level of experience because the weapon systems were in need of constant repair and maintenance. Now, our systems are more advanced, and it’s hard to practice difficult repairs.
“We can build our skill sets and proficiency faster by not having an aircraft break to perform the training. We could break one virtually at any time, any place. VR is a unique way to fully train while still maintaining our mission capable rate.”
In this demonstration, Marines experienced an immersive VR training scenario, put on a head-mounted display for VR application and used hand-held devices for training scenarios.
The immersive VR scenario allowed users to walk inside a hangar with a piece of munition positioned for maintenance. The user could look around the hangar, interact with the munition, pull up the technical order in a full-view mode or even watch a video of someone successfully installing that specific item on the munition. Essentially, the user could take apart and reassemble a munition from the barracks.
“In a controlled setting, VR allows for instant immersion into the field to help Marines understand the content better, faster.”
If VR is fully implemented into its training processes, Marines could have virtual hands-on experience much earlier in their careers, which could bridge the training-to-experience gap challenge the Service now faces.
The in-garrison mission may be different from the deployed mission. That gap can become noticeable if a Marine who has a home-station duty on a certain airframe or munition deploys and must work with unfamiliar equipment or in a joint environment. VR could be used as recurrent or just-in-time training to bolster the combat capabilities of users when they are deployed.
Demonstrations like these are designed to combat today’s challenges through innovation and collaboration among top subject matter experts. It’s a way to increase combat capability and solve complex security issues by partnering with experienced organisations to create platforms to house the application.
Redacted version of the report is made available to serve as a reminder about the importance of uncovering operational risks and the planning, briefing, executing and debriefing process. The Troops say that it’s a useful process for them to go through and identify what went wrong and to ask the most important questions of why did this happen.
It’s useful because it provides examples for training on their own equipment, so if one deployed unit had this issue, and then they go over with their teams in training sessions, it's a great tool to highlight potential recurring traps and do we have processes in place so we’re not going to run into this?
What Is Digital Twin Technology and Where Is it Really Going?
Digital twins—virtual replicas of a physical product, process, or system—bridge physical and digital worlds. Here is a guide to walk you through some of the most promising current and future use cases for digital twins.
For the past several years, the internet has been ringing with a new buzzword: digital twin. And, more recently, the term “digital twin of an organisation” has been added to the mix.
As digital twins grow in complexity and move from being digital representations of single items to models of systems of interconnected things, Marines are seeing the technology as an opportunity to connect people, processes, and things in a useful way, resulting in better operational outcomes. But is digital twin technology really here to stay? And where do its biggest opportunities lie for the future?
Here we look at what a digital twin really is, how to decipher true digital twins from the buzz, and where the technology is headed—especially as digital twins mature and expand in scope.
At its simplest, a digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical product, process, or system. Digital twins act as a bridge between physical and digital worlds by using sensors to collect real-time data about a physical item. This data is then used to create a digital duplicate of the item, allowing it to be understood, analyzed, manipulated, or optimised. Other terms used to describe digital twin technology over the years have included virtual prototyping, hybrid twin technology, virtual twin, and digital asset management.
Although digital twins have been around for several decades, it’s only been since the rapid rise of new network capabilities that they’ve become more widely considered as a tool of the future. Digital twins are getting attention because they also integrate things like artificial intelligence and machine learning to bring data, rules, and context together, enabling organisations to test new ideas, uncover problems before they happen, get new answers to new questions, and monitor items remotely.
Now that we’ve addressed the often elusive question, what is digital twin technology?, we can now explore how digital twin technology has been used to improve business processes. Digital twins were traditionally used to improve the performance of single assets, such as jet engines.
In recent years, however, digital twins have become more sophisticated. Now, they connect not just one asset but rather systems of assets or even entire organisations. As digital twins bring together more and more assets and combine them with information about processes and people, their ability to help solve complex problems is also increasing.
A good example of where digital twins are being used at the organisational level is in military manoeuvres. By creating a digital twin of the mission space, Marines can get powerful, real-time insight into combat workflows.
Using sensors to monitor troops and coordinate equipment, digital twins offer a better way of analyzing processes and alerting commanders at the right time when immediate action is needed. As a result, operational wait times can be reduced and workflow can be improved, decreasing operational costs and enhancing mission outcomes.
The term digital twin is becoming a popular buzzword everywhere. Is it really here to stay? The consensus is a resounding yes. In fact, trends suggest that we’re on the verge of a digital twin explosion.
Where variation exists is in how digital twins are implemented. Digital twin technology can be used in new and mature ways, integrating sophisticated sensors, AI, and machine learning, to solve the biggest organisational challenges. In order to maximise their usefulness, digital twins need to be powered by high-performing databases that can pull together and process many data sets in real-time.
Where digital twins offer new and remarkable possibilities is at the organisational level in the built environment. Implementing digital twins offers the potential to create beneficial outcomes not only for administrators but also for the manoeuvre troops. In this way, digital twins can be used to take a troop-centric approach and then look at problems and context, and finally adding network systems and connected devices to try to solve big problems and create long-term value.
For organisations that already use advanced networks, digital twins are the next step along the digital journey. Digital twins can be used to improve efficiencies, optimise processes, detect problems before they occur, and innovate for the future. If your organisation is interested in producing better operational outcomes digital twins must be explored
Digital Twins can be used to check machine status at a glance, or as a visualisation tool in planning out installations. Perhaps most intriguing of all, VR can be used for remote expert support, giving the engineers at HQ the ability to “see” through the eyes of workers in remote locations.
The advantages of VR have been demonstrated in the context of Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul MRO applications. For example, the ability to enter information via voice input in place of pen-and-paper checklists can streamline inspections and maintenance routines.
Experienced workers equipped with VR devices can narrate routine maintenance and inspection tasks as they perform them, enabling companies to build up libraries of instructional materials over time with relatively little effort.
Eliminating the need to switch back and forth between a task and a checklist for that task could also reduce the risk of error by keeping inspectors and maintenance technicians more focused.
The ability to overlay a worker’s visual field with step-by-step instructions—including animations depicting the proper assembly or disassembly of parts—offers the potential to reduce lead times and error rates in MRO operations.
Remote expert advice is an obvious application for VR in MRO. Field service often requires experts to travel to remote worksites, but the telepresence afforded by VR means a single expert can service multiple sites without ever having to leave the office.
It’s been said that there’s no substitute for a hands-on education, but whoever said that hadn’t see what VR can do. Many of the biggest players in manufacturing have begun to take advantage of what this unique technology can offer.
Simulation for industrial robots is a valuable tool for robotic system integrators and robot programmers, allowing users to design robotic work cells and generate robot programs through offline programming.
However, simulation requires accurate digital models of each piece of tooling and equipment in order to be useful. In most cases, users must export files from CAD tools, then import them into the simulation space. However, as any professional user knows, exporting, importing, and managing different file types and compatibilities can be a headache.
VR plugins are designed to make tasks easier when programming for welding, drilling, machining, setting approach angles, and for importing many parts from CAD to simulation more rapidly.
For example, when welding assembly is loaded into the simulation, knowing the exact position of welding joint start and end points can be challenging. Using the plugin, the user selects the surfaces, points and edges surrounding each weld. Next, the assembly automatically appears and the welding program is generated. This generated program can then be edited.
Next, the video illustrates how a common workflow for importing a CAD model into simulation involves saving the part in a different file format before it can be imported. With the plugin, the user can click a button in the toolbar, and the model will automatically load.
"Maintenance Troubleshooting Determine Effects of Malfunction/Discrepancy on Airworthiness of Aircraft"
Whenever a Mechanical Malfunction/Discrepancy is reported or comes to the attention of the technician, no matter how simple or complex, must determine appropriate time & location for the corrective action to be taken, identifying the cause of the discrepancy.
In one scenario, a landing gear position-indicating switch may fail because of its frequent usage, or failure may be premature, with the true cause of the failure being a voltage regulator or perhaps a leak in the hydraulic system allowing fluid to drip on the switch. It is important that the technician identify the true cause of the discrepancy when determining the corrective action to be taken.
Another example of troubleshooting is illustrated by considering the following scenario: Aircraft system is experiencing low pressure, the fluid level is adequate, and no leakage is evident, but contamination is found in the system. According to the troubleshooting chart, the technician is to clean filters & flush the system. But this does not complete the troubleshooting process. Additionally, the source of the contamination must be determined, with corrective action to include elimination of the source.
Marine maintainers are always ready to employ and sustain combat ready suppression of enemy air defense and develop combat ready equipment to win our nation’s wars. In order to stay combat ready, Maintenance Squadrons must find every nook, crack and cranny in mission critical equipment, both small and large parts.
Non-destructive inspections make it possible for Maintainers to discover small cracks on the surface as well as beneath the surface of the part. To discover cracks on the surface, parts are dipped into a penetrant which seeps into the cracks causing them to glow when put under a black light. Using penetrant chemicals is not the only way to expose a crack. Another way is to use a magnetic field to draw out cracks.
A stationary magnetic particle unit is able to put a magnetic field into a part alternating its current, so cracks beneath the surface can be visible under a black-light. After each piece is magnetized and demagnetized, it is measured to ensure the magnetic field is fully removed from the part.
While performing all these tasks maintainers at times, wear full Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear during exercises “Wearing all the MOPP gear while doing our job is very difficult, but it is good practice,” Doing the job while fully suited up is very complicated, but was still very rewarding..
Maintainers continue to stay focused on their mission to win the current fight, be prepared to win the next fight and remain influential in generating lethal combat ready air power.
In another example, maintainers are additional maintenance work to lengthening the life of the fighter jet low observable coating. The leading edges of the aircraft need to be recoated, with a number of near-term modifications to keep the existing coating in good shape,
“The gaps on an airplane are what raises the signature of an airplane, so by putting these coatings or these gap fillers into the airplane, you’re helping the low observability of the airplane. It reduces the amount of corners and things that are picked up by radar.”
We’re experiencing low observable coating reversion problems. Basically, in high flow areas, what’s essentially happening is there’s a gradual deterioration of the coatings. If the LO coatings aren’t doing what we need them to do, then the platform loses its ability to do its primary mission, which is get behind enemy lines without detection.”
Planners expected for the LO coating to gradually degrade, and it is doing so on pace with the predictions. “If you leave it out in the sun long enough, eventually that paint is going to crack, and if you don’t do anything to fix it when it cracks, eventually it’s going to start to peel off in chunks.
In this case we knew it was going to occur about this time in the aircraft’s life, so we are starting to see the coatings on the airplane start to wrinkle and crack just like you would the paint.”
A stealth jet’s inlets are the most critical part of the plane to recoat because, if the LO coating begins flaking off, it could be ingested by the engine, causing permanent damage.
“When we do these fixes to the inlets, and we will continue this as we do the edges, we’re actually using a different compound than we had used on the production airplanes, which has significantly stronger, lasts much longer, so it’s going to be giving the squadron a longer time in the next interval where this might become a problem.”
Different types of fighter jets have low observable technologies, the composition of the LO coatings are completely different and require separate application processes.
“We would very much like to go towards, as best we can, the way the F-35 coats their airplanes for a number of reasons. single or more similar coating would lower material costs, enable the squadrons to have a set of maintainers to sustain the coating and simplify the inventory.
“If we could get closer to something common, it would be a great savings. We’re trying to work that. Our engineers are very busy trying to see where that is possible.”
Digital Twins are already telling us things that we need to look at before they become critical.
But even though 70 percent of the money the military spends on acquisition goes to "sustainment, few people talk about the issue. “There are rarely hearings on aircraft sustainment, but it's the reason we're able to go fight and win a war. There are amazing men and women that keep airplanes able to fly, but here's the thing: They're using technology that is decades old.”
We need to bring new tools to the military and in this age that means data mining. “We've brought in a lot of artificial intelligence experts to advise us on how to use AI to predict when planes are going to fail, and we're on of the first squadrons to have AI operational on its flying fleet.
Digital Twins are already doing amazing work, telling us things that we need to look at before they become critical. The data is there but it's not in a discoverable format that you can layer in machine learning on top of it. A lot of what we had to do was reverse engineering, so that that data can be exposed in an algorithm friendly way.”
Digital Twins are parsing the information generated by specific systems, like the landing gear, wheels, temperature sensors, and anything that is deemed mission-critical. These new tools have helped us find maintenance actions that we wouldn't have found through traditional processes.
The larger the fleet, the larger the time and money savings. This year’s test focused on large aircraft with small fleets, which are easier to handle. We are excited to bring AI scrutiny to all aircraft in the inventory.
”We're working very hard to make sure that our newest fighter is going to be able to do the same kind of smart maintenance approach. “The more that we can see into the future the better.”
Efforts to keep existing Digital Twin handbooks current would greatly enhance Troop confidence in improving impact of field-level missions. Keep track of all your tasks from your mobile device. Digital Twin technology lets you track responsive product support tasks from your mobile device to enable solutions for operational problems encountered by Marines for all types of equipment.
1. Product Support Schedule Monitor
Solution for complete scheduling, tracking of asset maintenance. You can establish scheduling for all types of maintenance. Part component consumption in the maintenance process is automatically tracked and recorded location tracking feature allows you to match technicians with tasks, ensuring rapid response to critical product support requests.
2. Service Success Track Platform
Save time, boost efficiency and increase customer satisfaction by taking your mission mobile. Mobile device can easily track technicians & assign work orders using high performance tools and track daily Job Site Events with unparalleled ease and efficiency. Streamlined workflows employ intuitive dashboards, calendars, and alerts to speed the maintenance process and ensure that you provide consistently outstanding service/solutions to your customers built into platform-wide mobilisation plans.
3. Streamlined Workflow Task System
Optimise control over administrative tasks, streamline workflows, by providing a straightforward, systematic way to process work orders from initial contact through completion and maximise efficiency with mobile solutions utilised by field-level units. Location-independent access ensures faster processing and the ability to run up-to-the-minute reports/solutions for all types of assets
4. Work Order Status Create/Update
Maintenance Mobile conveniently allows technicians in the field to create, update, and close work orders from a mobile device, with results in automatically updated status. Workers can use search bars to quickly and easily sort through and select work orders through a variety of fields. Other features include work order status editing to indicate priority of work order settings. Technicians can also view problem descriptions and access entry notes in a work order.
5. Access to Schedule Locations
Location-independent access to equipment ensures faster processing and up-to-the-minute reports. View detailed reports on inspection history including technician notes and findings. Inspection facilitates communication about product support scheduling and results with merge memos that can be sent via mobile device emailed using the notifications feature.
6. Enter Inspection details Into System
Inspection Mobile enhances the functionality of Inspection with the ability to access and enter inspection details from mobile device. Assigned inspections appear on device instantly, and completed results update the record automatically. Inspection Mobile even operates in field-level areas, scheduling links once the connection is reestablished.
7. Item Type Summary Access Screens
Fixed Assets reports provide assess tech as well as summary and detailed information about your assets. On-screen reports allow you to drill down to related screens. Report categories include Asset assess, Item Type Received, Make Ready, Work Order and Purchase Requisition.
8. Purchase Assign Control Schedules
Accurately coordinate purchase requisitions and work orders. Efficiently assign and schedule work orders Track pending work requests, alerts, and exceptions. Parts Control is the ideal solution for impact stocks transferred among multiple locations. You can track impact of parts transit as well as use location transfer of purchase issue.
9. Labour and Materials
Product Support Control Solution lets you monitor labour and materials used to complete work orders, quickly reconcile physical count of on-hand stock items, and automatically reorder parts as needed. You can also update pricing based on amounts paid on purchase orders.
10. Real-time Parts Stock Reports
Parts Control includes detailed reports that help you keep stock levels optimised to make better parts decisions. On-screen reports allow you to drill down to underlying information. For example, you can drill down from the Activity on Parts report to Transit Track, Item Type, or Location screen.