Surface Warfare Magazine
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Worth the Wait:
Why the Future of PMS Will Take so Long

Maybe you have heard that Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), U.S. Fleet Forces (USFF) and Commander Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) are combining efforts to reinvigorate the shipboard planned maintenance system (PMS) through the Future of PMS project (FoPMS). This project will improve PMS through changes in policy, content, tools, and processes making PMS easier to execute for the Sailors while ensuring our naval ships are properly maintained. So you may be saying to yourself, “Sounds great! Now when will we get it on our ship?”

You’ll see some incremental improvements to the current PMS program as FoPMS comes together, but the current timeline calls for a six year development and rollout period. Improvements will come soon which will be addressed later in this article, but why must FoPMS take so long? Well, there are several answers to this important question…

The primary answer is that there are acquisition rules and regulations that must be followed before a major change to a program may be deployed. There is a checklist of processes that must be followed and many of these processes are tied to the government fiscal years and have their own schedule and timeline. These items involve funding, contracts, Program Management Office (PMO) oversight, testing, security certification and many other factors. Many of these processes are put in place to protect the Navy from fraud, waste, and abuse as well as to ensure that all security concerns are accounted for. In addition to acquisition regulations, FoPMS must establish firm requirements. This process starts by establishing the requirements for the program through the Fleet 3M Requirements Management Board (RMB), a governing body that makes and approves requirements.

Once the requirements have been approved, they are passed to the NAVSEA 3M Configuration Control Board (CCB) to have a solution designed to meet those requirements. This solution is then approved by the RMB before implementation may begin. Due to the scope of this effort, it is expected to take until FY16 to have the final solution approved and ready for implementation.

Ok, so maybe now you’re saying to yourself, “Fine, but FY16 isn’t that far off. Why is it still going to take so long?” Two main factors are manpower and time. One of the primary principles of FoPMS is having the PMS requirements associated with every configuration item on the ships. This results in a streamlined process for Sailors; maintenance requirements are provided explicitly to the ships for execution with a bare minimum of administrative effort, meaning no more line-outs.


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In order to do so, many of the generalized PMS documents will need to be broken down into their specific equipment procedures. This also includes addressing the quality and complexity of the documents. As of Force Revision (FR) 1-15, the Navy’s process for updating and distributing PMS documents, there are 85,245 PMS documents that are being maintained by NAVSEA. These documents affect 12,045 individual Work Center Supervisors. It will take a lot of processing to get the PMS content at the appropriate level and tied to all of the configuration records.

“Alright, that’s a lot of documents. Still, six years?” Well, another reason for the wait is that the FoPMS project will be dependent on various platforms and Information Technology (IT) infrastructure components, including hosting centers and shipboard servers that have their own timelines and objectives. Even if the acquisition processes could be bypassed, the tools overhauled and content revised sooner, nothing can be deployed until the IT infrastructure and platforms are ready to accept the modernized program. Since these infrastructure platforms support a wide range of systems, they have their own development and deployment schedules that are planned years in advance. Therefore, NAVSEA will need to synchronize the deployment schedule with these major platforms to ensure that the IT infrastructure will be ready to receive FoPMS when it is complete.

The final reason for the lengthy timeline is that NAVSEA and USFF want to get this right! It is important to not rush any requirement decisions. At its core, the current PMS system operates on a paper-based logistics philosophy that depends on Sailors to make the proper associations between maintenance requirements and the equipment configuration. This system has been moderately enhanced over the past decade by computers, digital documents, and minor processing changes. Each of these changes has served as a patch for a specific problem, to reduce costs, or reduce administrative burden. Unfortunately, these patches often solve one problem but cause additional problems elsewhere. FoPMS represents the best opportunity to change the current model by taking the maintenance planning responsibility off of the ship and placing it in the hands of engineers ashore. An additional shift will be made to change administrative processes to make it easier on the Sailors and put more of the burden on a stronger, smarter and more dynamic system and toolset. The bottom line? FoPMS cannot be another bandage in a long line of bandages, but a total solution to improve the execution of PMS at the deck-plate.

Now that you know why it will take so long to get the final solution, it is time to talk about what can be done to improve PMS before the end of the six year timeline. During the Fleet 3M RMB process, one of the initial requirement changes is to revise PMS policy to make it more streamlined for PMS execution. Reducing the administrative burden on the Sailors and focusing on PMS accomplishment are the primary objectives of this effort. These 3-M RMB objectives also align with the Chief of Naval Operations’ Reduce Administrative Distractions initiative as well as Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command’s Mission Priority that calls to “Reinvigorate Shipboard Preventive Maintenance” and “Challenge Every Requirement.” RMB efforts include changing 3M inspection processes to ensure that they are focused on two primary questions:

  1. Is the intention of the PMS maintenance requirement being performed on the ship?
  2. Does the Current Ship Maintenance Program (CSMP) accurately reflect the current material condition of the ship?

This means that there will be a reduced emphasis on administration and verbatim compliance issues. The policy changes are expected to take effect sometime in FY16.

In addition, as the PMS content is reviewed and refined, those changes will be incorporated into the existing PMS system and distributed to the Fleet. This may include Equipment Maintenance Plans that specify the appropriate MRCs to go with the various makes, models and variants that exist for a system or equipment. These improved logistics documents should make maintenance scheduling easier and more consistent throughout the Fleet. So while it may take several years before the full Future of PMS system is deployed to your ship or activity, you can expect to see improved PMS documentation and streamlined PMS policies hitting the waterfront much, much sooner. Surface Warfare Magazine

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