Innovative new training tools increase soldier safety

The challenge: The U.S. Army needed to quickly deploy Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan. And they needed to train Army mechanics at 19 different locations in the United States to troubleshoot problems with the mission-critical Automatic Fire Suppression System within the vehicle.

Often the first line of defense when encountering an improvised explosive device, the MRAPs have saved hundreds of U.S. lives. The Automatic Fire Suppression System works to reduce the amount of damage to the vehicle – increasing the chance of a soldier’s survival.

Proper training on the MRAP reduces downtime and extends the life of the vehicle. But training on the real vehicles posed multiple problems related to safety, logistics and expense.

The solution: Rockwell Collins worked closely with the Army to develop an alternative to training on the real MRAPs.

Our solution was twofold:

  1. Take all of the components for the Automatic Fire Suppression System out of the vehicle and mount them to a training aid. The aid is connected to a computer that helps instructors monitor students’ progress.
  2. Design a virtual trainer that can simulate the real vehicle environment. This allows student mechanics to troubleshoot on virtual vehicles.

To meet the extremely tight delivery timeline, minimize cost and ensure product conformance, Rockwell Collins employed our Lean ElectronicsSM process. Key efficiencies included:

  • Streamlining manufacturing and design tasks to ensure prompt delivery under tight budget and time constraints, which involved collaborating with a small business, Corsair, to speed virtual software development
  • Splitting the training aid manufacturing between two sites to optimize resources and efficiency
  • Holding daily meetings with the Army to keep pace with its changing engineering requirements
  • Managing risks by implementing cable-test devices to determine any interoperability problems early in the program

The result

  • Simulated and virtual training models meant that the MRAPs stayed on the battlefield, increasing the mechanics’ safety and decreasing expenses
  • The customer’s full training capability requirements were met at initial acceptance testing – ensuring that the units were shipped on time and allowing the Army to quickly field this program, which was classified as an urgent operational need
  • Units were fully operational immediately with no Training Discrepancy Reports – the ultimate quality measurement
  • System was fielded on schedule and within budget

Story posted: November 6, 2017

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