The army is in the process of deploying an asset tracking system in a bid to reduce wastage and errors caused by fitting wrongly specified components during aircraft maintenance. The system is updated each time an aircraft is flown, allowing maintenance engineers to check when components need servicing.
Corporals and staff sergeants involved in aircraft maintenance access the system from browser-based PC systems. Commander Terry O'Reilly of the Ministry of Defence said, "We have been smart at reducing the overhead costs. We use a browser interface rather than paying for a £70 client."
O'Reilly believes the system will save the British Army "millions" and it is an interim step in moving the armed forces to a common system, which is due to be completed by 2007.
The armed forces have had trouble with previous asset tracking systems but O'Reilly said his team has learnt lessons from implementations at the Royal Navy and the Royal Airforce.
"We learnt from the navy and airforce that quality assurance has to have a high priority," he said. One example of this was paperwork. "We realised our paperwork would not be as good as we thought it was," said O'Reilly. "In order to put the paperwork into the system, it had to be 100% accurate."
The Wram (Work Recording and Asset Management) system from Spirent Systems and SCO is being deployed on the army's Lynx and Gazelle helicopters and will be rolled out to Apache helicopters later in the year. The software shares the same database as the Royal Navy's Spirent terminal-based asset tracking system, which was rolled out in 1993.
Tarantella server software provides a Windows-like graphical user interface for Spirent. The platform is based on Unixware 7 and SCO's Reliant HA, which are being deployed to provide high availability.