An advanced maintenance system developed by Lockheed Martin could potentially save the U.S. Navy millions of dollars by automating the process of weapons tracking. The RuBee Weapon Shot Center system is capable of remotely tracking sensitive munitions equipment. In contrast to traditional tacking methods based on radio-frequency-identification (RFID) tags, which can’t always be read through metals or liquids, the RuBee system operates by means of electromagnetic (EM) tags and magnetism and are not subject to the blocking and interference that impacts RFID tags.

The U.S. Navy’s pilot-program evaluation of the RuBee system has found that the system could potentially save a single armory millions of dollars in labor charges annually though automation. According to Dr. Rob Smith, vice president of C4ISR for Lockheed Martin, “Most processes for tracking ammunition and scheduling maintenance for weapons are time-consuming and manually intensive. We worked with select Navy expeditionary forces to demonstrate that the RuBee system could not only increase the accuracy of their inventories, but also reduce costs, improve safety, and maximize asset security.”

As part of the pilot-program evaluation, RuBee tags were embedded in select naval assets to track weapon performance and diagnostic data. The RuBee system successfully provided maintenance and diagnostic data, such as number of rounds fired, rate of weapons fire, and calculated barrel temperature. The small RuBee sensors also detected performance anomalies, such as gas port erosion and cracked bolts, before they led to potential weapon failure. The RuBee system allows weapons to be automatically located and identified within the perimeter defined by the system. It uses magnetic detection to read through and around metal and other materials, for efficient armory management. Lockheed Martin is now working to expand this effort from a pilot to a full program that generates cost savings and increases confidence in weapon safety.