Original Design Concept by:
Ron Wagner – ASI CTO
David Sada – VP RM&SS
Dr. Gregory Thompson – INPD Sr. Engineer
Re- Engineered by:
JC Leverette – ASI COO
David Sada – VP RM&S
Rob Willis – VP APMS
Al Wilkerson & ASI Team
Throughout its 15-year history, ASI has held fast to the idea of being a customer’s “Supportability Teammate.” It’s apparent throughout the services, software, and now products, that ASI provides its customers. ASI has always believed that to improve performance, you must be able to measure the performance. Supportability is no exception, but it’s not easy. It’s illusive, capricious, and at times, even nonsensical, which makes this journey frustrating, yet rewarding, for those bold enough to take the trail.
The story of “S” describes the events and outcomes surrounding the measurement of supportability as it relates to weapon system sustainment. Product Support Managers (PSM) have sought to quantify the life cycle performance costs throughout the cradle to grave life of a weapon system, especially at the major milestone points. This measurement of supportability is used to compare and contrast like and similar systems, assess improvement or degradation over time, and evaluate the impact of various affordability issues. By measuring supportability, PSMs determine where to best spend their next sustainment dollars to maximize sustainment performance. This is the story of “S”.
It all began in 2012 when Dave Swanson, who held the position of Technical Director for Naval Air Systems Command Industrial & Logistics Maintenance Planning/Sustainment Department (NAVAIR 6.7), tasked Ron Wagner, Chief Technical Officer (CTO), of Andromeda Systems Inc. (ASI) with finding a methodology to measure supportability.
Ron enlisted David Sada and Gregory Thompson (engineers at ASI) to begin researching this topic. They started by defining supportability in terms of Availability, Reliability, and Operations and Support Costs (Key Performance Parameters (KPP)) as used in Naval Aviation terminology. Thus, a degrader can be described in terms of frequency of occurrence (F), duration (D), and cost (C) elements. Using this assessment, then supportability = F x D x C [reference 1]. Utilizing these key performance parameters (KPP), they calculated a supportability (“S”) index.
Using standard formulas for Ao and Rm, plus compiling the O&S costs, determined the KPP values for the present state of supportability. David Sada contributed the epiphany to apply multi- attribute utility theory and swing weight methods to the KPPs and a value hierarchy was constructed based on the relative importance or impact of each KPP. “S” now became a unit-less barometer (number between 0 and 1) that reflects the relative supportability of that set of conditions determined by the KPPs. Supportability could now be measured for each set of variables or inputs and used to compare/contrast and/or determine degradation/improvement from one milestone to another or to evaluate a candidate system to a like and similar system.
The supportability index could now be plotted on the ASI innovation, Supportability Growth Curve (SGC). The SGC is a plot of “S” (vertical axis) versus the system life cycle (horizontal axis) measured in time. The SGC is plotted between the program technical objectives (Contractual Objectives) and the legacy system technical objectives. The PSM seeks opportunities for growth based on several factors that include resources available, performance goals, and affordability. This is accomplished by reducing costs and/or improving availability and reliability.
The PSM realizes that he/she can only control the product support elements (PSE) and that “S” is a carefully blended result of the PSEs contributions to the objective vector function. “S” is computed as the sum of the contributions of each product support element (PSE). Each PSE is weighted using a calculated weighting coefficient. The twelve product support elements (PSEs) are listed in the Product Support Manager’s (PSM) Guidebook [reference 2].
The next chapter of this story involves the demonstration of “S” in action. To do this, the ASI Team conducted a proof of concept analysis on a weapon subsystem. The results are recorded in the report listed as reference 3. This report describes the application of the Supportability Growth Curve concept and calculation of the Supportability Index for the Air Launched Harpoon Missile. The analysis utilizes the SGC model applied to one-shot devices to assess the air launched harpoon supportability.
In the subsequent applications, the ASI team, led by Al Wilkerson, utilized another ASI innovation, the Integrated Supportability Analysis Methodology (ISAM), which relies on “S”, to assess different sustainment strategies. One example is the assessment of organizational to depot (O-D) maintenance concept versus the organizational to intermediate to depot (O-I-D) maintenance concept. By assessing both maintenance models, the sustainment analysis team was able to determine the optimum strategy for maintaining selected subsystems (e.g. landing gear, canopy, etc.) of the F-35 air vehicle resulting in potential cost avoidance of $34M per year and potential improvement of availability by 4 aircraft per month.
Recent reengineering of the Ao and Rm formulas, led by JC Leverette, ASI COO, have strengthened the formula for calculating “S”. As maintenance and performance data becomes available, the calculation of “S” will become more accurate and better reflect the operational environment and mission that the warfighter encounters in today’s global battlefield.
The story of “S” describes the origin of a methodology that takes a logical, quantitative approach to measuring supportability and it has proven extremely effective thus far; however, we’re very excited to see where the next 15 years take us!
- Reliability, Availability, & Maintainability for Cost (RAM-C), Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff, June 1, 2009
- Product Support Manager’s (PSM) Guidebook, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness; April 2016
- Calculating Supportability Index for the Air Launched Harpoon Missile as part of the Capabilities Based Test & Evaluation (CBT&E), Andromeda Systems Inc. dated September 12, 2012