When Kierra Shay, a readiness analyst for the Sustainment Group’s Advanced Analytics and Innovation Branch, first heard about the Department of the Navy’s (DON) Sustainment Data Challenge in December 2018, she immediately wanted to participate.
“They were looking for a predictive modeling system capable of forecasting or identifying future sustainment and resource requirements. I felt the criteria were in line with my branch’s day-to-day work,” she explained. “It was an opportunity for me and my coworkers to be innovative, creative and to provide naval aviation with a viable solution for the sustainment of its weapons systems.”
NAVAIR when the challenge began, formed the Hawkeye Analysis Working Cohort (HAWC) and went on to win the DON’s inaugural competition in June. Working evenings and weekends, HAWC developed the Sustainment Score, a visualization tool that aggregates data and provides metrics on the health of three high-level areas: Bureau Number (aircraft), squadron, supply chain and infrastructure. HAWC was one of 17 teams from across the Navy to compete.
DON leadership held the challenge as a way to tap into the expertise of its workforce to help achieve readiness goals, according to Susan Marcellino, the Sustainment Data Challenge coordinator and program analyst with Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division.
“The Navy produces a great deal of data on its weapons systems,” she said. “For this challenge, the teams were asked to analyze 3.65 GB of usage data compiled over five years from multiple sources and formats for a single platform. They had less than four months to finalize their analysis and deliver a working prototype model. The amount of work and the products they delivered on such a compressed time line is impressive.”
HAWC first asked themselves if mission capability influences sustainment. “We concluded that it does not—mission capability is an outcome of a well-sustained platform,” Shay said. “It was a big turning point for the team because once we understood that concept, we asked what structure and processes are needed to successfully sustain an aircraft. The next step was to define the mission capabilities and resources needed for each.”
Each of those resources, such as support equipment availability and maintenance man-hours, were assigned a value—like a credit score—then aggregated under one of the three high-level metrics. Next, HAWC determined if the required information was available through other means and used their data to populate the Sustainment Score.
“We didn’t want to duplicate effort,” she explained. “The tools were already in place but they did not always inform each other. The Sustainment Score leverages these products and brings them together to provide a comprehensive view of the resources needed to sustain aircraft.” One product, Supply End-to-End Analysis for instance, is comprised of 27 different data sources.
An unexpected bonus
The Sustainment Score has an added feature. “Although the challenge originally called for developing a predictive modeling system for just a single platform, HAWC knew the Sustainment Score could be a powerhouse across [naval aviation],” said Shay. “We used our access to the enterprise data analytic environment to pull information from other [type/model/series] into the Sustainment Score, demonstrating its utility.”
“Users can now perform ‘apples to apples’ comparisons among data. The Sustainment Score can also serve as foundation for predictive modeling directed by [Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson],” Shay added.
HAWC team member and Advanced Analytics and Innovation Branch Operations Research Analyst Sidi Chleuh credits his team’s success to communication and a shared focus. “When presented with disparate data, the solution lies within the collaboration of experts who work in seemingly ‘disparate’ areas of responsibility,” he said. “When innovative thinking is paired with domain knowledge and subject matter expertise toward a common goal, any challenge can be successfully tackled.”
The Sustainment Data Challenge second runner up is a team from Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific/Atlantic (recently renamed Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific/Atlantic) that developed a tool to manage manpower at the squadron level to increase mission capable rates.
Two other NAVAIR teams were among the top four winners: Team SPARTA from Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (whose project focused on developing a predictive Bill of Material to reduce unplanned delays in depot-level turnaround times); and Team Datanators from Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Lakehurst (who proposed aircraft readiness could be modeled and predicted using aircraft age, flight hours, custodian and preventative maintenance).
The next steps for the Sustainment Score call for incorporating “what-if” scenario-based modeling, health scores for mission sets and depot capacity, and incorporating the Support Equipment Resources Management Information System database which is currently being upgraded. The Navy also plans to mature the NIWC PAC/LANT and Team SPARTA models and integrated them with the Sustainment Score, creating a comprehensive sustainment modeling tool to support the Sustainment Program Baselines for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and H-1 in fiscal years 2020 and 2021.
Chleuh said the data challenge provided HAWC with the opportunity to form valuable relationships with other seasoned employees. “Experts from across NAVAIR shared their knowledge, experiences and perspectives with HAWC about what it takes to support the fleet,” he said. “We are part of a larger team with one focus—support to the fleet. Connecting and collaborating with each other is what gets the job done.”