MPH Overview

Program Overview

The U.S. Army, through its Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM), is engaged in an R&D program to develop a capability to produce replacement parts for equipment in the field at or near the point-of-need. This capability will enable the rapid repair and return to service of disabled equipment and address the military priority of weapon system readiness.

The program is titled Mobile Parts Hospital (MPH) to bring home the analogy between MPH and the Mobile Army Surgical Units (M.A.S.H.). The M.A.S.H. units were very effective at returning soldiers to health in the field while the MPH units are designed to do the same for Army equipment. The overall approach is to develop a mini-factory that can be deployed to the field to manufacture replacement parts so that military equipment can be quickly returned to fully operational combat ready status.

As the program has progressed, three major developments have evolved: 1) the Mobile Modules referred to as the Rapid Manufacturing System (RMS), 2) an Agile Manufacturing Cell linked to the RMS via the 3) Control and Communications Center.

The RMS is a mobile compact communications and Manufacturing System. It is designed for deployment to remote locations for emergency fabrication of repair parts for non-operational equipment. A combination of advanced technologies enables the RMS to quickly and efficiently produce repair parts on demand. The RMS retrieves manufacturing data via satellite from an extensive engineering and manufacturing database. In the event data for a part is not available or a communications failure, the RMS is capable of gathering its own geometric data through the use of a 3-D laser scanning system.

The scanned data can be sent to an engineering CAD package, and then on to the CNC machining center, or to the powdered material deposition machines for production.

In the event the multiple quantities of a repair are required the RMS is linked to ‘Agile Manufacturing Cells’ located strategically across the United States. These ‘Agile Manufacturing Cells’ are small factories with the ability to engineer and produce production quantities of parts. The capabilities range from machining and welding to heat treating and plating. The cells are able to create parts on demand, devoted to the needs of the US Army.

This rapid manufacturing technology will be spread across many areas of the military, and eventually into other fields such as medical, for the production of prosthetics, as an example.