Recreating Technical Data Packages With 3D Modeling

The Challenge: Limited Access to Technical Data

To make modifications to their vehicles, weapons systems, or other assets, defense organizations typically need to own the technical data packages (TDP). However, in many cases, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) owns and possesses that technical data, which means the defense organization must rely on the OEM to make any changes to the baseline model—something that can add considerable time and cost.

The Marine Corps confronted this challenge with one of its vehicles: the Cougar Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicle, an armored multi-role vehicle. The MRAPs were developed quickly in response to a fast-rising threat posed by improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan. This accelerated development of the MRAP led to technical data packages that were incomplete or inaccurate, which presented additional challenges to Marine Corps efforts to upgrade the baseline vehicle against evolving threats.

The Solution: Using 3D Modeling to Replicate Data Packages

Needing a more robust technical data package for the Cougar MRAP, the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division tasked Booz Allen, as part of a broader team of government and other contractor personnel, to develop a 3D model package of four Cougar MRAP variants. The goal was to support future blast analyses and provide a consistent starting point for various engineering changes.

To produce the 3D technical data package, Booz Allen assembled a team of engineers, modelers, and technicians to execute the project along three parallel workstreams:

Dissassembly and Parts Warehousing

A Booz Allen expert with deep familiarity with Cougar MRAPs—formerly an MRAP field service representative—led a team of highly experienced technicians that disassembled the vehicles down to their irreducible parts. The team also bridged the gap between what was actually on the vehicle and what was purported to be on the vehicle. They employed a 15-ton overhead crane, an organic machine shop, and material-handling capabilities. Other key tasks included system troubleshooting; identification and resolution of non-conformances; cataloging and inventorying of parts; and documentation and photography of all parts and cable routes to support quality control and reassembly.

Model Development

Once the vehicles were disassembled, the parts were assigned for modeling. Most of the more than 4,000 unique parts of each vehicle were measured using handheld interrogation tools, such as calipers, micrometers, and protractors. Larger and more complex parts, like the vehicle hull, were measured by government and contractor teammates using laser‑scanned data. The measurement data was then entered into SOLIDWORKS, a 3D modeling computer-aided design and engineering application. OEM-provided models were obtained and used when available for the greatest accuracy of design.

The technical data package includes 3D models of every lowest-replaceable unit on the vehicle, as well as roughly 500 unique assemblies and sub-assemblies. In addition, the package includes essential metadata, such as part numbers and descriptions for each part. A key contributor to the success of this effort was a model user’s guide written by the 3D systems development team and refined throughout the task. The guide established best practices and standardized procedures for developing the models from the ground up. After each part was measured and modeled, it was run through a quality-control process for accuracy. Finally, the physical parts were stored in a Booz Allen warehouse until needed for the reassembly process.

Reassembly of the Vehicles to an Operational State

After parts were modeled and warehoused, the team reassembled them into field-ready MRAPs. The team performed functional checks, performed required maintenance, and ensured that systems were operational prior to returning them to the fleet.

The Benefits: Putting Defense Organizations in Control

With the 3D technical data packages, the Marine Corps can confidently undertake a variety of modification projects and conduct engineering analyses, human-factors engineering, and root cause analyses, among other use cases.

Moreover, the success of the Cougar MRAP 3D modeling project has led to similar follow-on work to develop 3D models for two other Marine Corps vehicle families: the Logistics Vehicle System Replacement (LVSR) and Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR). Additional efforts are also underway to develop drawing packages for the Cougar MRAPs, and to support the integration of engineering change proposals. 

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