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Flight hardware delivery breakthroughs via engineering/business best-practices synthesis

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1 Author(s)
Clark, K.P. ; Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA, USA

Development and use of leading-edge engineering and business practices provides firm footing for tremendous advances in the aerospace community. When applied together and systemically across multiple missions, these practices can yield tremendous reduction of technical, schedule and cost risks for project development. An example of this synthesis can be found in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's (JPL's) Flight Hardware Logistics Program (FHLP), which uses space systems engineering expertise and supply-chain business acumen to achieve breakthroughs in the delivery of space flight hardware. To support the evolution from a few large projects to many smaller projects developed in shorter time, flight hardware delivery must evolve from serial, independent and resource-intensive processes to those characterized by commonality, multi-project support, anticipation, industry-partnering, reuse and easy access to information. These processes are fundamental to the communication, coordination and collaboration that FHLP provides to enhance JPL project success. The heart of FHLP centers on the commonality of flight hardware across multiple projects. As an example, FHLP has demonstrated significant schedule, cost and technical risk reduction using a common buy of 31 flight computers for 9 different projects. Understanding and coordinating similar product requirements for multiple subsystems, instruments, projects and companies can yield even greater savings. Knowledge of upcoming missions, their right product needs, hardware capabilities and supply sources allow anticipatory procurements of flight hardware to reduce or eliminate lead-time. This is being done for flight electronic parts, connectors and fasteners with replenishment funded by compensation from users for supplied hardware. Partnering with industry is achieved with suppliers and users of hardware. Open contracts and supplier early parts buys are examples of supplier agreements while synchronized procurement and inventory exchange are examples of user agreements between JPL and its contractors. Improved tracking, coordination, record keeping and storage of residual flight hardware can provide crucial cost and schedule benefits to future projects. FHLP has developed a low-cost, JPL-wide system and facilities to s- ignificantly increase the capability for current project use of residual material from past projects. Having the right hardware information at the engineer's fingertips saves considerable time and reduces the risk of missing important knowledge. FHLP provides limited hardware information today; tomorrow it will provide much more comprehensive "one-stop shopping." The FHLP information tools include an on-line JPL-wide hardware catalog of available inventory (with reports, shopping carts and digital pictures), on-line product documentation and database of hardware usage by projects. The many simultaneous smaller projects implemented today do not enjoy the substantial infrastructure and stable expertise more prevalent in the past on fewer large projects. FHLP fills these gaps with services of hardware information, availability, investigation, delivery and storage. Likewise, proposed projects hungry for higher fidelity information, increased heritage and lower costs welcome a menu of support from FHLP that includes information about available hardware, costs, lead-times and suppliers. FHLP's early focus on hardware delivery and inventory will be augmented by enhanced hardware information and expand to include other NASA Centers and industry partners. Breakthroughs will be limited only by imagination, innovation, commitment and energy.

Published in:

Aerospace Conference Proceedings, 2002. IEEE  (Volume:7 )

Date of Conference:

2002