NBAA Convention News

Honeywell Gives APU Inspection A Voice

 - November 12, 2015, 9:00 AM
Gone are the cumbersome clipboards and reams of paper checklists. Lufthansa Technik’s APU overhaul operation goes green with Honeywell’s hands-free Vocollect voice-technology data collection system.

In April 2014, Lufthansa Technik’s head of auxiliary powerplant unit (APU) services, Ole Gosau, first heard of Honeywell’s Vocollect voice-direction system. Now he and his team use Vocollect to service Pratt & Whitney APS 3200 APUs, saving hours of technician time and improving quality and productivity. “Vocollect voice technology has freed our technicians from time-consuming and burdensome written documentation, which previously took up around 50 percent of their working hours,” Gosau said.

Honeywell Vocollect Voice Solution for Maintenance and Inspection is part of the company’s Sensing and Productivity Solutions division, and more than one million technicians are using the system all over the world.

Vocollect eliminates the burden of manual data collection, in this case when APUs arrive for induction and inspection at Lufthansa Technik’s APU Services facility in Hamburg, Germany. Before Vocollect, technicians would have to work in teams on engine induction. One technician would inspect the engine and verbally pass the information on to another technician who either wrote it on a clipboard or entered it into a computer. In any case, the clipboard data would later have to be input into the computer, opening up many possible avenues for mistakes. “As well as being labor-intensive, it required intense focus and concentration,” said Gosau.

With Vocollect, a voice coming from his SRX2 wireless headset guides a single technician through the induction process, and he in turn speaks into the headset’s microphone to provide the information needed. The headset is connected to the A730 wireless mobile computer on his belt, which automatically transmits the information to the company’s server. “When performing the incoming inspection, we can now work with our hands and eyes free of distractions and can concentrate on the specific task in hand,” said team member Robert Garbas. The Vocollect process continues through inspection and disassembly of the engine.

At Honeywell’s APU facility in Phoenix, technicians use Vocollect for inducting APUs, and plans call for adopting Vocollect in the rest of the APU MRO functions, which include analytical, materials, assembly, test andshipping phases. The Vocollect voice can be set to male or female, and sped up or slowed down as desired. Vocollect also makes it easy to add new questions to the system without having to ensure that every mechanic has a current printout for their clipboards. Engineers can quickly insert a new question into Vocollect, and technicians will not be able to avoid inspecting that particular item. If a mechanic misses an item, Vocollect won’t let the job continue until that missed action is completed. With the printout system, an item could easily beoverlooked. Vocollect can also adapt to foreign accents.

There are many more possible maintenance opportunities for Vocollect, including airframeinspections. After expanding to the full APU MRO process, Honeywell plans to add Vocollect to the engine MRO line as well as to other Honeywell Aerospace MRO facilities.