Working With the Army

The big news at the recent Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) Fall Meeting in Nashville (besides the crowning of this year's SuperTech winner) was the announcement that TMC is partnering with the U.S. Army on a four-year, $12 million project to study "Condition-Based Maintenance." What is conditon-based maintenance, you ask? Well, it's not reactive and it's not predictive (the transportation industry wastes $25 billion on unnecessary PM and unrealized cost-reductions on predictive maintenance, according to TMC's man on this project, Duke Drinkard); instead, it's based on the real-time condition of the component. Or, as the Army's representative Paul Skalny said, it's "maintenance based on evidence." According to Drinkard, the applications for commercial trucks include: brake stroke/overstroke detection, tire tread depth, failed lamp detection, battery condition, alternator, starter and turbo failure, internal engine and drivetrain failure, and more. Drinkard said that from 1/4 to 1/3 of all "failed" batteries are still good, and condition-based maintenance is designed to correct that kind of rampant misdiagnosis. All it will take is new sensors, a lot of historical data, dependable wireless transmission and new failure-predition algorithms. Maybe it's just me, but if the system depends on historical data and failure-prediction algorithms, how is it any different than reactive or predictive maintenance? Oh well, TMC and the Army are going to spend $3 million a year over the next four years to find out. I hope the answers are good ones.