Jul 10, 2017 | By Benedict

Lt. Gen. Michael Dana, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for Installations and Logistics (I&L), says the next generation of Marine Corps trucks could use smart diagnostics to identify worn-out parts and automatically place orders for 3D printed replacements.

Marine Corps LVSRs could benefit from new automated diagnostics & 3D printing

(Image: Olive Drab)

Smart systems are about more than turning off your household lights with a smartphone. According to top staff in the Marine Corps, the next generation of 7-ton trucks could use a highly connected infrastructure to diagnose and automatically replace worn-out parts with 3D printed replacements.

Lt. Gen. Michael Dana, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for Installations and Logistics (I&L), says the process for installing such systems is already underway,

Last year, Marines at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri took 20-odd military vehicles, including 7-ton Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements (MTVRs) and Logistics Vehicle System Replacements (LVSRs), and equipped them with special engine sensors that could diagnose the imminent failure of key components.

Some high-end cars already use such technology, but it’s a completely new experience for the Marine Corps, which would previously have to identify and replace near-worn parts manually. “You look at Tesla, their vehicles literally get automatic upgrades; it’s almost like a vehicle computer that’s driving around,” Dana said, adding: “That predictive capability exists in the private sector. Hopefully we can incorporate it on the military side.”

The Marine Corps is steadily increasing its use of 3D printing across several areas

When testing on the sensors is completed this summer, I&L will deliver its verdict on the technology. Should the sensors prove themselves worthy of Marine Corps vehicles, a system will be created that allows each vehicle to automatically order a replacement 3D printed part when it identifies a potential fault. These parts will be 3D printed at a suitable location and delivered to the vehicle’s unit.

Lt. Col. Howard Marotto, a senior member of the Marine Corps’ logistics innovation team, thinks such a system would increase efficiency while saving manpower for other important tasks. “Now we have the part there waiting when the vehicle gets back in from the convoy, or it’s already there a week in advance before we know we need to change it out,” he said. “So that’s the concept and that’s what we’re going to try to prove with that.”

“If we had the ability to print a part far forward…that reduces your order-to-ship time,” Dana added. “And you then combine that with what we call sense-and-respond logistics, or smart logistics, which…can tell you with a predictive capability that this part is going to fail in the next 20 hours or the next 10 hours.”

The Marine Corps is no stranger to 3D printing. Last year, an Invent3D 3D printer was trialled out in the field to create simple objects like door handles, while the Armed Forces branch has also experimented with 3D printed munitions.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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