Beyond If Beyond If

How America’s Entryway to Space Gets Ready for Liftoff with Predictive Maintenance

What if we showed you how Jacobs’ predictive, data-driven maintenance approach keeps Kennedy Space Center’s systems running smoothly?

Oil pharmacy at Kennedy Space Center

Whether you change your oil every 3,000 miles without fail or rely on your smart vehicle to ask for a change when it’s ready, checking and changing your car’s oil is key to ensuring engine longevity.

The same can be said about ground support equipment and spacecraft at the NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. The nation’s entryway to space, KSC has served as NASA’s primary launch center for human spaceflight since 1968, and since 2013, Jacobs has been helping  the space center transition to a 21st century launch facility capable of processing various spacecraft for both private and government entities under a Test and Operations Support Contract (TOSC).

Our team works with the technical community to understand the variables involved in  meeting NASA launch dates – getting into everything from how many cranes will be required and how many modifications will be needed on the mobile launcher’s umbilical arms to when the technicians will need to start training onsite to prepare for launch.

But what if we showed you how Jacobs’ proactive maintenance approach is introducing data-driven, cost-cutting and environmentally-sound planning and scheduling of system maintenance and improvements – ultimately preparing KSC to meet its launch dates into the future?

  • 9 K+

    gallons of oil change-overs avoided using a condition-based maintenance approach at Kennedy Space Center

  • $ 4 M

    (and counting!) in recorded client cost savings with implementation of trusted oil analysis program and data-driven decision making

“Using predictive maintenance techniques, we have improved connectivity across many contracts and customer organizations. We have integrated commodity life cycles, from procurement through disposal. We’ve also baselined systems early in the construction cycle, so by the time they get into operations, we have a good history to use in predicting future maintenance needs.”

Kevin Berry

Senior Manager, Maintenance & Reliability Engineering, Jacobs Space Operations Group

Assessing America’s entryway to space

Just like our vehicles’ maintenance systems have shifted over time – from time-based oil changes to “condition-based” oil changes (think: how your dashboard can predict how much percentage of oil life remains) – technological shifts have led to the ability to advise system engineers about the lubricants in their equipment.

When KSC first awarded us the TOSC to support its modernization efforts, our previous experience implementing a comprehensive oil analysis program for another aerospace client helped us readily conclude the benefit of developing a similar program for Kennedy’s infrastructure and procedures.

The team envisioned improvements to the way lubricants were received, stored, transported, tested and analyzed; while also anticipating that implementing best practices would align to all customers’ needs. We knew that oil analysis would provide the necessary insight on all TOSC assets to optimize the maintenance program of the ground support equipment, and we named the new program the Oil Pharmacy because it established an easy, accessible, one-stop-shop offering solutions for every service.

Within the first two years, we executed changes involving storage and distribution, including inventory consolidation, air-conditioned co-location, procedural documentation creation and the introduction of lubrication codes and a lubrication manual. We piloted the program with one group of system engineers – the Cranes, Doors and Platforms Group – with the intention of expanding to other groups as new procedures were validated. In addition, oil is now kitted in requested quantities in color-coded oil-safe containers dedicated to specific lubrication codes to control contamination.

Today, the TOSC asset management and maintenance & reliability group at KSC operates an award-winning lubrication and oil analysis program that utilizes precision lab equipment and certified personnel to provide on-demand results for real-time analysis and decision making, as well as managing optimized storage with industry best practices. Since 2014, TOSC has recorded more $4 million in cost avoidance achieved due to the implementation of the Oil Pharmacy Program.

Monitoring asset health and reliability

Designed in-house and based on industry best practices, the oil analysis lab – one of the major program components – is conveniently located within the storage area and is equipped to diagnose fully the health of lubricants and the assets that use oils.

The Oil Pharmacy lab receives oil samples from all TOSC system engineering groups requiring machine lubrication, analyzes each lubricant for wear, contamination and chemistry composition, and then provides reports to the system engineers with recommendations on how to act on the results. In addition, the lab analyzes all oils as they arrive from suppliers before being added to inventory, oils sitting in storage for other contracts or upon oil delivery to large, critical machines.

Analysis employs a combination of particle counting (utilizing ISO codes), elemental spectroscopy (individual metals in parts per million worn from moving parts as well as contamination and additive element levels) and wear density (wear particle concentration, percent ferrous, micrograms per ml, wear index, etc.) to ensure all large and small particles are recognized. As part of the program, all assets were loaded into Emerson’s OilView software, with limits applied consensually with system engineers, OEM direction and drawing requirements. The team uses Maximo to track asset hierarchy, baseline asset information, condition assessments, labor time and material cost, along with details on oil sampling routes, grease caddy inspections and reporting. In addition, comprehensive reports are provided directly to the system engineers responsible for the asset.

This periodic analysis and assessment is a best practice in the monitoring of asset health and ensures oil is only changed when the condition warrants it – extending the life of oil, preventing unnecessary oil changes and associated costs, reducing environmental impact and increasing productivity.

A worthwhile switch

The procedural changes implemented through the Oil Pharmacy have enabled the maintenance & reliability group to support system engineers in switching from a time-based maintenance schedule to a proactive CBM posture. This conversion has significantly optimized the TOSC maintenance program. Additional positive achievements of the Oil Pharmacy – all indicating that the anticipation of streamlining machine efficiency, control and reliability was well-placed – include:

  • Drastically lower volume of oil in storage and fewer mixes of oil brands in use.
  • Significantly lower maintenance costs per asset.
  • Greater confidence among system engineers that proper lubricants are in use.
  • More precise and accurate monitoring of machine health.
  • Fewer spill prevention, control and countermeasure sites.
  • Drastic reduction of disposal costs using a re-refiner.

The Oil Pharmacy program made it possible for analytical findings to be used in data-driven, cost-cutting, proactive decisions for planning and scheduling of maintenance work orders at Kennedy. The TOSC Lubrication Program won ReliabilityWeb’s Uptime Award for Best Lubrication Program in 2016 and was presented with the Augustus H. Gill Award through the International Council of Machinery Lubrication in 2018 for exhibiting excellence in the application of oil analysis in machine and lubricant condition monitoring.

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