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Career Episode 2

Testing and Qualification of Electrical System Component & Loom Assemblies

Note: Please don’t copy this work as it’s already submitted to Engineers Australia.

A) Introduction

[CE 2.1] I was assigned the responsibility of quality control (QC) of electrical looming section of LCA – Tejas division, HAL Bangalore. It is during this project that I got promoted to the job role of deputy manager (Assembly Inspection). Light combat aircraft program came into production phase from 2014 onwards. To engage in the manufacture indigenously designed and developed LCA aircraft, this division was established on April 2014, under the aegis of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Bangalore complex.

Name of the project: Testing and Qualification of Electrical systems component and loom Assemblies.

Duration: April 2017- July 2018

Designation: Deputy Manager (Assembly Inspection)

Location: LCA-Tejas division, HAL, Bangalore

B) Background  

[CE 2.2] Nature of overall engineering project:

The different kind of looms/cable harness including electrical, data bus, antenna and video cables were made in this section from the scratch. Electrical panels, cable sensor and control panels, strain gauges & micro switch wirings for various control circuitries of the aircraft were also done here. The fuel submergible looms for en-board fuel tanks and drop tanks as well as armament system wirings were carried out. All these work modules were offered to representative Regional Director of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (RDAQA) on stage by stage basis. This statutory body then used to issue stage clearance on the successful demonstration of the functionalities and check prints as mentioned in the approved drawing in front to the process chart were various electrical components cable spools of different kind of connectors, switches, relays, circuit breakers, transformers, diodes etc., and the output/ resultant product were loom assemblies. The cables were printed using laser cable marking machine for identification. The configuration management of the source and destination details, which were fed into the software for printing on the cables was critical, as concurrently various modifications were happening to integrate new features into the aircraft systems. Once the loom/ harness fabrication was done the insulation resistance checks and end to end continuity has to be carried out, both manually (during intermediate stage) and using automatic harness checker after the secondary end finalization. The splicing of the looms and the part number verification of individual components were to be ensured, since this process induces a lot of manual intervention and hence errors introduced can be comparatively high. Such manual errors if left unidentified will cause a large amount of doom time, to trouble shoot when the looms were routed on board. Electrical panels, sensor panels and control panels used to undergo component level quality checks, wiring correctness verification and functionality on condition.

[CE 2.3] The objectives of the project:

To maintain the quality checks and uniformity of the electrical components and cables, received from various external providers, so as to ensure the snags/ mistakes in the finished products is minimal. To develop the quality assurance system procedure in accordance with AS9100C ad adheres to it. The completion of fabrication and continuity checking as well as insulation resistance testing on loom assemblies for various subsystems of the aircraft which included power cables, data bus harness, antenna cables and video cables. The fabrication of electrical panels, control panels and sensor panels as well as the functionality checks. The timely completion of looms and panels for 3 sets (3 aircrafts), operating the ship in two consecutive shifts of 8 hours each. In addition to this section wise modularization of looms assemblies on bench using 1:1 2D foam board drawings, to reduce the cycle time of loom routing and connector finalization on the aircraft. This ensured that parallel activities on-board can be completed with minimum possible time delay.

[CE 2.4] The nature of your particular work area:

In this project, I was heading and supervising a team of four workmen for the quality testing of the finished products from the looms ship. A complete set for each aircraft included around 350 looms, which involved the crimping and soldering of contacts for the finalization of around 1150 connectors, mainly included in the MIL-DIL-38999 series which were Restriction of Hazardous Substance (ROHS) complaint. These looms assemblies then has to go into modules which are complete in every sense to get readily installed on the aircraft. These modules included for LH & RH wings, LH & RH rear fuselage, Radar Module, Spine area module and DFCC module (Digital flight control computer connections to all control surfaces). The wiring of power looms of high gauge which carry high current generated from the alternators to rectifiers and then to distribution system was also carried out here. Antenna/ RF looms, MIL 1553 data bus cable looms and electrical panels as well as control panels for man-machine interface were also fabricated and tested in this work area.

[CE 2.5] The organizational structure:

[CE 2.6] Statement of Duties:

C) Personal Engineering Activity

[CE 2.7] How you applied your engineering knowledge and skills:

I implemented the overall system block diagram as shown below.

The selection of electrical components, fabrication of looms assemblies and routing of looms on aircraft have to be carried out as per the requirements in MIL-W-5088L. The electrical components and harness should be compatible with aircraft power supply as per MIL-STD-704D. The sound fundamental gained in the electrical system design and electrical wiring and layouts, during the course work of graduation helped me immensely in developing guidelines based on these standards for sourcing the cables and various electrical components from external providers. The coherent of the engineering knowledge gained and analytical skills helped me adopt quickly this new work module. The testing schedules of these cables & wires which are used for carrying power & signal where developed based on conformity to MIL-C-27500G & MILDIL-22759 series. I used to visit the external providers manufacturing facilities for the qualification testing called as pre-dispatch inspection. During this time I completed a classroom training sessions of six sigma green belt program and SQC tools to carry a cycle time optimization of cockpit loom board wiring. The testing of control panels for man-machine interface included the component level testing of potentiometers, LVDTS, time delay relays and micro switches. Numerical equations to calculate the output voltage and tolerance allowed in the voltage of the above said components came in handy, project slip compliance to include the modifications as per new drawings released required an incisive and analytical approach to study both the old and new issue of the drawings to generate the checklists to alter the existing wiring configuration and to incorporate changes with minimum doom time. Also I used to do the CAPA (Corrective and preventive action) subsequent to the issue of snag sheets for the non-confirmative mini tab tool was used for the snag reduction analysis.

[CE 2.8] The tasks delegated to you and how you went about accomplishing them:

The below list enumerates the task assigned to me in addition to the daily activities which are elaborated in the previous sessions. For transitioning the divisions QMS certification from AS9100C to AS9100D, I was a core team member in the internal auditing team. For this purpose, I underwent a 3 days classroom training course. The various departments were to be audited and non-conformities identified were to be communicated to quality control cell. Due to government level decision making a company and a very distant geographical location within the country was taken over by HAL as a wholly owned subsidiary. The employees of that company had to be trained in 2 different batches on the wiring protocol of looms, loom-boards and panels. I along with my team members were assigned to impart this hand holding training to induct the new work force into our core competency. In addition to this developing QASP guideline for this new company, in-line with ASDIOOD was my one of the assigned task. As mentioned in section 2.7 the cycle time reduction study, for the fabrication & inspection of cockpit loom board was assigned to me. My systematic approach, decision making abilities & time and communication, management allowed me to accomplish the task with in time lines provided. Accepting the ownership was essential to execute the tasks, I had devoted time for properly understanding AS9100D QMS guidelines, developed audit checklist for various departments with the help of other internal auditors. Hand holding on job training was imparted to the new work force at our division & for 1 month & assigned inspectors to guide them at their company.

[CE 2.9] Any particular technical difficulties/problems you encountered and how you solved them:

One interesting problem encountered during this project, was the compliance to a new modification (mod referred in short) in one of the category of pylons (where the armaments are fitted and this houses the wiring of control circuitry of the detachable armaments). This modification was the result of the parallel design and developmental activities. The trails for incorporating a superior capability missile proved to be successful & got clearance from the regulatory bodies. All the pylons belonging to this particular category, irrespective of whether those were delivered to the customer or still in pipeline had to be rewired for the compliance of this mod. The constraint here was time, because the pylons that were operational in the squadrons, once re-called has to be returned with minimum possible downtime. My strategy was to study both the old and new drawings and to arrive at the best possible method for re-wiring. For this I documented the changes that were to be made along with the connector IDs. Those connectors which were not affected in the new drawings, where labeled “NIL Activity”. The same was done for junction modules also. Once the first pylon was re-wired it was tested using the schedules provided and the activities documented in the checklists generated were validated, this helped immensely in bringing down the total cycle time.

[CE 2.10] Strategies devised by you including any original or creative design work:

As part of the contract with air force an order for continuity tester was placed on a vendor by own customer service team. The scope of this tester was however decided by the inputs from the customer is the air force. Later the customer was not in a position to commission the tester due to the scope limitations of the original tender. They had not given the order for link looms (which connect the connector tester to counterpart connectors on the aircraft). The test points that can be checked were also less compared to the number of test points on the aircraft. Eventually the customer had to abandon the tester. The tester however was physically positioned in our division of storage. I was asked to devise a plan to make use of this tester for testing of any independent module on foam board. We could develop link-looms for testing the using wiring modules & the application software was developed by our team with the help of training imparted by the vendor, I was heading a team to port all the data lines from end-to-end continuity schedule to develop data base for testing the lift & RFT wings.

[CE 2.11] How you worked with other team members:

My team included personal from both executive cadre and workmen category; because of this my interpersonal skills developed and attained a new high. My prime goal here was to ensure that management messages are understood by my sub-ordinate & thus then work and temperament is aligned with the organization goals. I had to arrange weekly meetings to appraise the progress of project per day. These meetings used to be chaired by DGM (Quality) and were attended by my senior colleagues. I maintained accurate task oriented approach in my communication with the statutory authority, who issues the clearance memos for the stages offered. Monthly report was provided to office of DGM (quality) as well as office of RDAQA, Quality review of targets were also done with the management.

D) Summary

[CE 2.12] Your view of the overall project:

My role started with the pre-dispatch inspection at the vendor’s facility toinspection of various fabrication stages and final clearance of the looms, loom-boards &various electrical panels by the ORDAQA. I also played crucial role in maintaining the QMTsstandards in-line with ASD100D. It is worth mentioning that during this project I developedQASP guidelines for external providers and I could successfully complete the training andinduction of new work force.This project has given me an exposure to work in challenging environment, wheremultitasking is an absolute necessity to meet the delivery time lines. I imbibed variousaspects of managing the work force, resources and time. I could stream line the routinework and guide the workmen, to co-operate effectively. The standardization of the process,flow was achieved which ensured the process is not affected by individual quirks.

[CE 2.13] How the project fared in meeting the goals / requirements:

From the fact elaborated in the previous sessions, it is clear that I was successful in carrying out & completing the tasks which were assigned to me. I was able to train and induct the new work force from the company undertaken by management. I was successful in delivering the prescribed set of looms, loom-boards and panels for the aircraft production. It is also mate worthy that AS9100D certification was obtained by the division.

[CE 2.14] How your personal role contributed to the project:

My personal role expedited the delivery of fabricated end products to the next section for assembly on the aircraft. The organized documentation of the snags raised and the CAPA reports enriched the knowledge repository of the department and brought about clarity for the workmen.