New motion amplification software could save the Air Force millions > Wright-Patterson AFB > Article Display


A new technology that has been in use at the Oklahoma City air logistics complex for eight months is wowing predictive maintenance engineers with what they call “unlimited potential” for cost avoidance applications that could save the Air Force millions.

The equipment was developed by RDI Technologies and is currently in use by the 76th Industrial Process Engineering Division of the Maintenance Support Group to aid them in their mission to find problems before they become disastrous.

The humble setup, developed by an astrophysicist at the University of Louisville, consists of a small video camera attached to a laptop. When aimed at a machine or device, the system measures displacement, displacement, movement and vibration that are not visible to the human eye.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, a slow-motion video is worth around 2.3 million,” say engineers Jason Stroup and Tyler Walker.

This number refers to the number of measurement points for each video the team records. While traditional vibration analysis requires between 200 and 300 measurements for adequate data, Tinker users say this technology can provide far more detailed information in a single 5-second video.

OC-ALC technicians say the equipment paid for itself very quickly. Vibration technician Jeff Gazaway recalls walking past a vacuum pump on a regular inspection route and noticing that a pipe was moving more than he thought.

“We assumed it was a loose bolt.” said Gazaway. However, he said the team used the camera for a closer look and found a total displacement of 28 miles, or 0.028 – enough to eventually cause a catastrophic failure.

By watching the amplified video, the engineers found that the mounting screws were loose and the concrete base of the pump had cracks and movements that were invisible to the human eye. The engineers of the 76th Maintenance Support Group calculated cost savings of just over half a million dollars with the new technology.

The technicians later discovered a defect in a new water pump using the same system. Their early detection allowed the complex to immediately identify errors that the contractor needed to fix, rather than using government money to fix the problem later. This find had a calculated cost avoidance of $ 176,000.

Technicians say they often think about other possible uses as they walk through the complex. Todd Moore, supervisor for engineering technicians, says they are considering applications for the test cell structure during testing of jet engines and for aircraft wings during bending.

These applications are possible because unlike traditional methods, motion enhancement cameras do not require contact with devices such as jet engines. Technicians can inspect a device without affecting its functions and without being damaged.

OC-ALC technicians say, as far as they know, that they will be the first in the Air Force to use this technology for defense logistics. The word has spread quickly within the complex as engineers from other groups see the equipment in action.

“You can talk to an engineer about motion all day, but they are impressed when they see it,” said Stroup. “This is the most exciting technology we’ve had in the last ten years.”

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