Sense and Respond Technology Enabling Condition Based Maintenance (CBM)
Navy SBIR 2014.1 - Topic N141-030
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - [email protected]
Opens: Dec 20, 2013 - Closes: Jan 22, 2014

N141-030 TITLE: Sense and Respond Technology Enabling Condition Based Maintenance (CBM)


ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMS 501, Littoral Combat Ship Program Office

RESTRICTION ON PERFORMANCE BY FOREIGN CITIZENS (i.e., those holding non-U.S. Passports): This topic is "ITAR Restricted". The information and materials provided pursuant to or resulting from this topic are restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120 - 130, which control the export of defense-related material and services, including the export of sensitive technical data. Foreign Citizens may perform work under an award resulting from this topic only if they hold the "Permanent Resident Card", or are designated as "Protected Individuals" as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). If a proposal for this topic contains participation by a foreign citizen who is not in one of the above two categories, the proposal will be rejected.

OBJECTIVE: Develop an innovative Sense and Respond maintenance system for the LCS platform

DESCRIPTION: The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) was designed to operate with a significantly smaller crew size than would be expected from a traditional manning concept (Ref 1). Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) and Open Architecture (OA) were maximized to reduce developmental timelines as part of the acquisition strategy. COTS proliferation, which includes significant capabilities of advanced sensors, could be maintained more effectively and efficiently through Condition Based Maintenance (CBM) and Distance Support (DS). Effective utilization of CBM has been identified as a class-wide requirement for LCS (Ref 2). Two primarily COTS-based systems that are critical to the warfighting capabilities of LCS are the Mission Package Computing Environment (MPCE) and the Total Ship Computing Environment (TSCE). Both of these systems do not have CBM capability and successful execution of this topic would deliver the necessary CBM capability to both LCS variants using one common solution. These systems also form the backbone of the shipboard Combat System (CS) for LCS since they house the servers the CS runs on as well as provide the network to transfer information between combat systems elements. Bringing CBM capability to these systems will deliver system health data in an actionable format to shore-based Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to be used to predictively identify maintenance actions and remotely provide technical support. The current State of the Art (SOA) for MPCE and TSCE allows for the collection of performance indicators for a variety of computer components. However, no system currently exists that bridges the gap between the warfighter and the SME. The current SOA is not limited by policy, only by the fact that no system has been developed to provide this needed capability. Successful execution of this topic would allow for the collection, processing and transmission of those performance indicators to SMEs. In specific, current troubleshooting sessions are conducted using voice, email, and Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) chat. While this approach in many cases provides a quick fix to the issue at hand, it places an unnecessary burden on the Fleet sailor to deal with the back and forth nature inherent in e-mail troubleshooting or the burden of having to schedule and execute a chat session. The desired solution would in many cases eliminate the need for the sailor to send data to shore-based SMEs and allow the SME to determine system faults and design solutions without burdening the sailor. In essence this topic describes the creation of a sense and respond system that is able to process data from the CS shipboard computing environment and provide it to SMEs who can use that data to improve the health of the network much like many systems in natural world perform the same functions (Ref 3).

One technology that could be useful to mitigate these limitations is the built-in Fault Detection and Fault Isolation (FDFI) capability employed on LCS ships in the Mission Package Computing Environment (MPCE) and the Total Ship Computing Environment (TSCE). Specifically, the SMARTS system installed on LCS 1 variant ships and the Solarwinds system installed on LCS 2 variant ships and available to both variants through the common Mission Package Computing Environment (MPCE) provide this type of FDFI capability. Both of these systems were chosen by the respective design agents of each system and are used in the computer networking industry. Specifically, these two systems are used in the commercial sector to monitor the availability and performance of the networks, storage environments, and servers through the use of specialized software. Today the information contained in SMARTS and Solarwinds is not used to improve the uptime of the computer systems they are running on or to help in quickly troubleshooting system faults. Successful execution of this topic would include building a common sense and respond system that would work on either the LCS 1 or 2 variants using data from SMARTS and Solarwinds respectively. SMARTS and Solarwinds cannot be used in their current state because no system exists to mine, analyze, reduce and communicate the critical information off ship to SMEs. To successfully address this gap it is necessary for the small business to design and build a common sense and respond system for both variants of LCS.

Current practices today for combat systems computing elements are characterized by systems failing without any warning leading to increased logistics costs, greater need for support personnel and, most significantly, reduced readiness. A good example of the potential advantages of this future sense and respond technology can be seen in the reasonably common failure of a network hard drive. Currently, the shipboard operator is provided no warning of an impending drive failure and is often presented with generic messages that the system is non-operational. This leads to a having to submit an Automated Work Notification (AWN) ticket to troubleshoot the problem, conducting one or more troubleshooting sessions, ordering a replacement part and then installing the part. With a successfully installed sense and respond system the shore-based SME would automatically be sent status of the hard drive, knowing in advance that it may be getting too fragmented and in need of defragmenting. The SME could then send a procedure to the crew to run the defragmentation routine or run it by him or herself remotely thereby restoring performance to the drive and potentially avoiding a complete drive failure. The only potential limitation to the future sense and respond system is current Information Assurance (IA) requirements in the Navy. These requirements place limitations on the electronic exchange of information to minimize the likelihood that computer systems are compromised. These are limitations that can be overcome through good system design and working with IA professionals early in the design process by the small business. The Navy intends to provide assistance to the small business to successfully address IA requirements for this topic.

Successful execution of this project will generate significant cost savings to maintain and operate a variety of systems on LCS platforms. These systems include the TSCE, MPCE and combat system computing hardware. To date, no one system or technology exists that performs this function in a way that will maximize the Navy�s current investment and address the Human Systems Integration (HSI) requirements in order to enable wide spread adoption using a common architecture across the LCS program. The technology gap that must be closed through Research & Development (R&D) is to aggregate, analyze, reduce, transmit, and display shipboard data from the TSCE, MPCE and combat system computing hardware in a way that allows the shore-based SME to make better decisions, effect repair more rapidly, and reduce the impact on ship�s force.

The goal is to develop a system to get CS CBM data into the hands of SMEs in an easily actionable format. The TSCE, MPCE and combat systems computing hardware are already sensorized but no system exists that addresses the unique requirements of both variants. One of the first requirements of this system would be to develop a methodology to aggregate, analyze and reduce this data. The data would then need to be transferred off ship to the SME. One system that exists to transfer data off ship that could potentially be used for this topic is the Navy Information Application Product Suite (NIAPS) system. However, the successful small business would have to consider in their design whether or not NIAPS would provide the needed functionality and may have to provide an alternate solution. The final product would be a complete sense and respond system that works on both LCS 1 and 2 variants that takes advantage of the currently-installed technology and allows shore-based SMEs to prevent system faults and significantly improve the availability of Combat Systems computing resources on-board LCS.

PHASE I: The small business will develop a concept and feasibility study for a sense and respond system that takes advantage of currently available sensors and distance support technology and meets the goals in the description above. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan that addresses technical risk reduction and provides performance goals and key technical milestones.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I, the small business will generate system architecture diagrams that provide both a high level and detailed system design. Detailed designs will include all components to be used in the proposed system and mock-ups of all user interfaces. They will then develop a prototype for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in Phase II development plan. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous deployment cycles. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Navy requirements. The small business will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use.

PHASE III: The small business will be expected to support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. The small business will develop a sense and respond technology systems according to the Phase III development plan for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The small business will support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The potential for significant commercial application and dual use exists for this technology. The system designed here could be put to use in many industries that rely upon equipment sensorization and analysis by remote support personnel.

1. Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. (2013, January). Littoral Combat Ship Platform Wholeness Concept of Operations (Revision D). San Diego, CA: Author.

2. Rowden, Tom. "Littoral Combat Ship: All Head Full!." Proceedings Magazine. January 2013.: Vol. 139/1/1, 319.

3. Chandy, K. Mani. "The Impact of Sense and Respond Systems." IEEE Internet Computing. 2010: 14 (1). pp. 14-16.

KEYWORDS: Sensorization; remote troubleshooting; distance support; remote fault detection and fault isolation; electronics prognostics; sense and respond systems

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