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Military Problems Imposed by Automation

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1 Author(s)
W. Bull ; Asst Chief of Bureau of Ships

The problems of logistics, maintenance and reliability, as imposed by automation on users of military electronics, are presented. It is reminded that the military is very careful to avoid telling industry how to build equipment, and therefore, in theory, automation should be only of military academic interest. On the other hand, with the cost of military electronics sometimes reaching staggering proportions, and with the economic status of the country as important as its military prowess, it is pointed out that the armed services have had a definite and active interest in automatic assembly equipment. The characteristics of Naval shipboard equipment are enumerated as embracing MIL standard component parts, and a relatively small number of non-interchangeable units repairable on shipboard at the component-parts level. Describing the Bureau's policy as leaning toward a broad production base with small business participation, it is noted that machines for automatic production are costly. Naval automation objectives compatible with these basic conditions are listed as including the use of conventional MIL component parts to build a wide variety of units, by means of low cost machinery which is capable of flexible programming. Emphasized is the need for selling the new concept to field personnel, and for expediting general specification changes in order to keep pace with technological progress. Automation is credited with a considerable contribution to reliability. It is suggested that, through the use of interchangeable subassemblies or modules, advantages are gained; yet it is indicated that the Navy would still want to maintain the ability (when the chips are down) to repair "the throw-away subassemblies." It is concluded that there should be no insurmountable difficulties in making changes to the present logistics and maintenance methods, in order to realize the full benefits of automatic assembly.

Published in:

IRE Transactions on Production Techniques  (Volume:3 ,  Issue: 1 )