A Rapid Response effort addresses unplanned manufacturing, sustainability and repair issues from the Navy’s fleet or production programs. With minimal time and funding, the EMPF can resolve issues or point the stakeholder in the right direction for a solution to the problem. In order for an activity to be considered a rapid response project, it should generally satisfy the following criteria:
- Acknowledgement of the problem by the appropriate stakeholder
- An implementation strategy by the stakeholder if the project is successful
- A sufficient understanding of the problem by the EMPF
- A funding level of $50k or less
- A duration of four months or less
The EMPF personnel will work with industry, academia and various consortia to determine if a solution to the problem already exists. By using these links, a solution can often be obtained at little or no cost to the government. If it is determined that a readily-available solution does not exist for the problem being investigated, then a condensed project plan, cost estimate and schedule are quickly prepared.
With its well-equipped demonstration factory and laboratories, the EMPF can provide advanced on-site analytic testing, design, and prototyping capability. This allows for quick response to electronics related issues.
Described here are some of the Rapid Response projects that ACI has dealt with:
Enhanced Operational Availability AN/SQQ-32 Minehunting Sonar
The EMPF was contacted by NAVSEA with a request to troubleshoot and then repair Hull Penetrator Cables used in the SQQ-32 Towed Body Littoral Mine Warfare Sonar. These Thru-Hull cables were prone to failure at a significant cost to the Navy both in terms of Operational Availability and in high repair costs.
It was estimated that 60 cables per year were in need of repair or replacement. With a repair cost of $3000 and a replacement cost of $9000, a permanent resolution was urgently required.
The EMPF performed a failure mode analysis of the existing cables, which lead to the conclusion that a fundamental redesign of the assembly would be required to prevent failures of this cable in the future, and to mitigate risks associated with the lack of availability of this crucial component.
Working with Glenair, the EMPF was able to provide NAVSEA with a suitable replacement Thru-Hull cable that would not only better allow for maintenance, but was substantially cheaper that the original assembly. With the original cable having a standard cost of $9,500 each, and the new cable assembly projected to cost $3,500 per unit, the U.S. Navy will save an estimated 2.3 million dollars by refitting with the new design.
IMUTS III Station Obsolete/Hazardous Component Replacement
The Navy IMUTS III Station is used to test and calibrate the Inertial Navigation Unit in the F-18 aircraft. This Test Set, built in the mid 70’s, used obsolete mercury relay components that were not only unavailable, but also an environmental hazard.
A replacement for this component was urgently needed, so NAVICP (Naval Inventory Control Point) requested that the EMPF develop, test, and build a suitable replacement that could be readily inserted into the existing IMUTS III Station with out having to make modifications to the system.
Having conducted research to determine the exact requirements for the existing relay in comparison to other similar devices, the EMPF was able to create a solution for this problem based on commercially available technology. This had the effect of not only be a viable environmental solution, but also represents a great cost savings to the U.S. Navy by maintaining a crucial system through the use of more affordable components.
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Lockheed Martin Lead Free Soldering Rapid Response Project
As a world class defensive naval system, the AEGIS Weapon System is being deployed in Europe, supporting naval systems within the NATO alliance. These systems are currently being manufactured with Tin Lead (SnPb) solders at Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics and Surveillance Systems (NE&SS) Surface Systems in Moorestown, New Jersey. There were three (3) brief tasks completed:
- Manufacturing Site Survey: The EMPF performed a site survey to determine if Lockheed Martin has the manufacturing infrastructure to build hardware with Lead Free solders. The EMPF determined that Lockheed Martin had the manufacturing infrastructure to support Lead Free soldering. The EMPF made recommendations to Lockheed Martin and the AEGIS IWS Program Offices to improve Lockheed Martin’s Lead Free soldering manufacturing process capabilities.
- Lead Free Manufacturing Production: The EMPF and Lockheed Martin built several non-deliverable AEGIS assemblies with Lead Free solders, to determine if there are any materials and processing incompatibilities with using Lead Free Solders on AEGIS Hardware. Based on this limited production run, the EMPF and Lockheed Martin concluded that there were specific materials and process incompatibilities found.
- Lead Free Environmental Testing: The EMPF and Lockheed Martin executed a brief series of Environmental Stress Screening (ESS) Tests, to assess if there were any reliability risks associated with using Lead Free Solders on AEGIS hardware. To date, all functional hardware tested passed electrical and environmental stress testing.
A formal program review was provided to the AEGIS Program Office and to Lockheed Martin in October, 2004.
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Mantech Special Technology Area Review (MT-STAR) Project
EOC/EMPF Review of Application of Wide Band Gap (WBG) Technology for DOD System Insertion
The Office of Naval Research requested that the Electro-Optics Center (EOC), in conjunction with the EMPF, investigate major issues in the development and manufacturability of Wide Band Gap materials and devices, with the objective of determining the state of WBG technology with respect to the needs of DOD system requirements.
Wide Band Gap materials such as Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN), used for the fabrication of electronic components represent cutting edge technology which allows for significantly higher performance and durability while demanding less power and space. They also weigh far less than devices made of other materials. Development of this technology will have a considerable impact on both military and commercial industries. WBG materials have the potential to be applied to computing, communications and data links, EW related opportunities, sea and air radar, RF amplifiers, and power electronics.
The EMPF, along with the EOC, has reviewed all aspects of WBG technology, including determining the technology status of contractors and suppliers and has submitted a report focusing on materials, devices, packaging, thermal management and reliability to the ONR. A set of recommendations have also been submitted with this report to aid in the advancement of WBG technology insertion to meet the needs of the U.S. military.
SDV Computer Display Unit Wiring Harness
The EMPF was requested by PMS-Naval Special Warfare and the NSW Detachment CSS Panama City, Fl to examine potential connector alternatives which would ease the manufacture and maintenance of the Computer Display Unit, CDU, for the MK8 Mod 1 SEAL Delivery Vehicle. The purpose of this study was to provide NSW with commercial connector alternatives that would meet their environmental and mission requirements.
Following a review of the wiring and interconnect scheme, the EMPF was able to identify a potential replacement for the unit based on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology. A newly redesigned prototype was provided to SPECWARCOM that could be used to replace the existing unit with the desired result of a component that was readily available, easy to install, and less difficult to maintain.
Nanotechnology Manufacturing Improvement Survey
Nanotechnology as a science has produced many materials that have advanced the applications of electronic, electro-optic, and electro-mechanical systems. The nature of a nano (meaning internal structures between 1 and 100 nanometers (10 -9) sized system allows for the behavior and performance alterations that can create significant improvements in larger systems that incorporate these nano-sized sub-systems.
ACI Technologies, Inc. (ACI) was tasked by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to review the state of development in “nanotechnology” to determine manufacturing issues that the Navy should address in order to transition the technology into system applications. To accomplish this task, ACI performed a survey to (1) develop an understanding of the maturity of the technology; (2) identify technologies that have potential for Navy applications; (3) identify organizations that have a potential for manufacturing capability; (4) determine if there was interest in the technology within the Navy acquisition community; and (5) establish recommendations for manufacturing capability.
In order for nanotechnology to evolve and become commercialized, more attention must be given to applications. Successful applications need to be established that allow industry engineers and designers to gain insight into ways this technology can be used today. As the techniques evolve for effective and efficient production of nano materials and devices, the industry will begin to integrate this technology into their products and services.
ACI is continuing to follow trends in nanotechnology and its maturity. With increasing maturity and commercialization, the identified Navy needs may one day included advanced technology and yield the benefits of it.
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