Whiteman AFB Airman Develops Intelligent Maintenance Floor Mat | Military news Vas
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (AFNS) – Foreign Object Debris, or FOD, can come from a variety of sources and pose a major risk to aircraft around the world, costing the aviation industry an estimated $ 4 billion in repairs every year.
An aviator at Whiteman Air Force Base took it upon himself to try to avoid these maintenance costs after learning about the risks of FOD and the importance of having good attention to detail on the flight line.
“From the moment I stepped onto the flight line, I was blown away by the power of the B-2 (Spirit) and the airmen working around them,” said Paul Olexa, office assistant at innovation of the 509th Bomb Wing. , originally assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “I started to learn the process of removing, inspecting and installing parts. I observed how the aviators handled tools, parts and where they placed items.
Seeing trends in item placement and the risk of losing parts or tools, Olexa realized that something had to be done to keep track of these items. Originally, he focused on the magnetic aspect of many parts and tools to keep track of them.
Before joining the army, Olexa worked as a sector manager in a factory, this industrial background exposed him to a variety of floor mats that serve a variety of purposes. This experience helped him develop a floor mat that would potentially reduce FOD. The concept started as a magnetic floor mat and evolved to incorporate smart technology to analyze and track FODs.
“The FOD mat is a durable polymer mat capable of detecting and locating metallic and non-metallic objects using a variety of sensors,” Olexa said. “This will make it easy for users to find FODs, reducing the risk of damage, property damage, man hours and mission delays.”
With up to eight hours of battery life, the mats will be able to be used throughout various maintenance tasks and will record data for items that fall on them.
“Each item placed on the mat will be assigned a unique identifier and will be recorded in a database,” Olexa said. “The measurements recorded in the database will be the location of the item, the drop-off time and the pick-up time. It will also include a machine learning model for object identification. “
While the FOD mat was developed for use in servicing military aircraft, Olexa said there will be a public version with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities as well as a variety of sizes to meet the needs of different industries.
The rugs will be modular and can be connected to form larger rugs. They can also be stacked for storage and loading.
The initial prototype, which won’t be bigger than a pizza box, is being developed by engineering students at Texas A&M University for their synthesis project. The Capstone Project pairs students with innovators and industry professionals, giving them the opportunity to use the skills and knowledge they have acquired to produce and design real projects.
“Innovation is the method by which we maintain or in some areas regain our competitive advantage in all areas of warfare,” said Captain Benjamin Fogarty, director of the 509th Bomb Wing innovation office. “It’s the complete opposite of complacency; innovation forces us to take the initiative and not accept the status quo, but rather to look for something better.
Fogarty added that innovation comes into play in the lives of aviators by improving efficiency, the quality of work and providing new perspectives for units that choose to innovate.
“What we are seeing is that better forms of communication and the ability to understand real-time data are now a business-to-business hurdle for the Air Force and we are pursuing many parallel lines of effort to resolve this pervasive problem, ”Fogarty said.
The 509th BW Innovation Office and Air Force innovation teams work together to solve problems and overcome obstacles more efficiently, cost effectively and creatively by opening the door to new ideas and technologies.
“A1C Olexa has so far been unique in its success, and has done an amazing thing by showing up out there and having the perseverance to bring its idea to fruition,” said Fogarty. “He had good leaders who pointed him in the right direction. We need more of our leaders to step up and do the same for their airmen. We need them to tell their Airmen, “This is a great idea and the Office of Innovation can help you make it happen. I saw them do it.