The F-35 Lightning (also known as the Joint Strike Fighter) is the U.S. Department of Defense’s next generation aircraft for the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and U.S. allies. The F-35 introduces an array of cutting-edge technologies, including advanced airframe, autonomic logistics, avionics, propulsion systems, stealth, and armament.
What was needed ⋅ The F-35 Lightning II Program (also known as the Joint Strike Fighter Program) is the Department of Defense’s generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and our allies. The F-35 introduces an array of cutting-edge technologies, including advanced airframe, autonomic logistics, avionics, propulsion systems, stealth, and armament. Not surprisingly, the F-35 is one of the most complex aircraft ever manufactured, extending traditional manufacturing techniques with unique custom-built forms and tools. To add to the complexity, F-35s are assembled at a 680-acre, 153 building site. To keep costs down, the manufacturing teams share these expensive tool sets (often with 100 or more components). The tools are moved from building to building across the site, to the teams that needed them for their work. Previously, a manually operated tool inventory system had been used to keep track of these specialized tools. To minimize manufacturing delays, and provide greater operational efficiency, the Prime Contractor, one of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers, sought to provide manufacturing decision makers with accurate real-time reports on the tool location, condition and status of the unique specialized tools so that they could be more responsive to the needs of the manufacturing teams.
Actions taken ⋅ Savi SmartChain was an ideal solution for this urgent need. By collecting tool status data from active and passive tags placed directly on the tools, the Savi software was able to present decision-maker with real-time information describing tool location, condition and status. Thousands of tools were tagged and incorporated into the new tool logistics system, which collected the logistics data and converted it into real-time reports on tool locations, condition and status. On line information displays as well as email alerts detailing status or special conditions gave manufacturing decision-makers unprecedented visibility into the tool-based processes. At the same time, the Savi platform was completely integrated into the legacy enterprise software systems that the Contractor depended upon, so the back-office accounting, compliance, inventory and audit systems had complete access to this valuable data stream.
Outcome ⋅ Thanks to Savi SmartChain manufacturing efficiency increases. Idle tools were put into service more quickly, lost tools were located, and overall scheduling accuracy increased. And because Savi SmartChain automates the data collection process, manual entry errors were completely eliminated. Finally, the end-to-end integration of Savi with legacy in-house systems reduced the human effort required to prepared externally-facing reports for government mandated accounting, compliance and audits. Savi SmartChain was a prime contributor to the overall success of the F-35 project, countless man-hours were saved as management gained a greater visibility and understanding of the location, status and usage patterns of the specialized assembly tools.