The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Stealth Fighter aircraft lifted into the skies on the 15th December, 2006 completing a successful inaugural flight and initiated the most comprehensive flight test program in military aviation history.
This flight was supported by Marand Precision Engineering, an Australian company located in Melbourne, Victoria, who have been involved in the program since early 2002 and was one of the first companies to win contracts for the SDD phase.
Marand played an important part in supporting Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, USA with this historic flight by designing and manufacturing the complex ground support equipment that is needed to remove and install the various F-35 engines.
In June 2003, Lockheed Martin announced that Marand was the first company in the world to receive a contract for the design and development of ground support equipment for the JSF program.
Marand’s support equipment was specifically designed to meet the unit level engine installation and removal needs of the F-35 aircraft whilst on the production line and in the field.
Marand was contracted to design and manufacture seven JSF Engine Removal and Installation (R&I) Trailers, which provide a stable platform for the safe alignment, installation, removal and maintenance of the multi-million dollar F-35 engines, by using a very
precise six degrees of freedom (6DOF) mechanism.
In a ceremony at the Avalon Air Show in March 2005, Marand ‘formally’ delivered its first trailer to Lockheed Martin’s Tom Burbage (Executive Vice President & General Manager JSF Program Integration) This was the first piece of Australian equipment designed, manufactured and delivered to support the JSF Program.
“The JSF Program is progressing well now that weight issues concerning the Short Take-Off & Vertical Landing variant have been resolved,” said AIRCDRE John Harvey, Director General, New Air Combat Capability.
“Additionally, Marand is a good example where Australian SME’s (small to medium sized enterprises) with established links in non-aerospace sectors have been able to diversify into the manufacture of aircraft components as a result of the JSF Program,” said AIRCDRE Harvey.
“Marand is hoping to build on its proven performance in the F-35 development stages as longer term production ramps up”, said AIRCDRE Harvey.
In early 2004, Lockheed Martin contracted a senior automation consulting engineer from Marand into their Palmdale facility in California. Lockheed remains interested in Marand’s various unique robotic automation production solutions for use across many demanding applications on the program, similar to the equipment already in use by the Ford Motor Company in its two Australian plants.
Tony Ellul, Marand Director of Business Development & Marketing said “All of the various successes that Marand has accomplished over the last 30 months on the JSF program, the world’s single largest military program, have been achieved by drawing on our grass roots expertise applied in the Australian automotive industry. Many other industries benefit by drawing on Marand’s critical skill and knowledge base that such a large and technology driven sector demands. When Tom Burbage visited Marand and one of our major customers Ford, to view the latest Automation Robotic Solution that we had designed, manufactured and installed he said “This is the type of technology that the JSF program needs to help us build and support the
production rate of one aircraft a day”
Tony Ellul went further by saying “Born out of the Australian automotive industry, Marand has been in business for over 37 years as a custom designer and manufacturer providing a wide and diverse range of precision engineered products supplied to many different industries. In the last 10 years Marand has won the confidence of its customers by becoming a preferred Tier 1 supplier to the automotive and aerospace sector. In recent years we have seen a rapid convergence of technologies and growing need for Marand’s customised Automation & Robotics Solutions, which could be used in various applications in the global aerospace industry. Our generally lower labour costs, compared to counties such as the USA, Europe, UK and Japan and the highly skilled and flexible workforce plus being Aus- tralia’s longest continually operating aerospace tooling company, places Marand in a strong position to win more international business.
Marand design staff responsible for the challenging contract have been advised by a senior Lockheed Martin manager that “It’s great to see such a complex piece of equipment come together as smoothly as the Marand Engine Removal & Installation Trailer has these last few months”.
Another senior Lockheed Martin Support Team member had complemented Marand’s engineering team by saying that “The success of the Engine Removal and Installation Trailer, Lockheed Martin’s premier piece of support equipment, is due to Marand knowing what we wanted better than we did” He continued by saying “I have been working in this field for over 40 years and in that time I have never seen a better set of O & M (operations & maintenance) manuals than what Marand has written. They tell me everything I want to know and I can’t fault them”.
Tony Ellul proudly declared “The JSF contract is the first defence order Marand has exported. We are excited at the prospects of having our design and manufacture expertise recognised and utilised by other customers and joining their global supply chains, as we have done for Lockheed Martin”.
Marand has continued its impressive achievements on the engine trailer contract by not only winning the contract to manufacture the initial Lockheed Martin designed Engine Adaptor set but to go on and win a contract to fully re-design these adaptors and replace them with Ma- rand’s innovative solutions.
John Papanastasiou, Marand’s Support Equipment Manager for Aerospace & Defence says “Marand’s new and innovative adaptor set design, currently in manufacture has
- Improved reliability by simplifying the design.
- Reduction in adaptor weight by revising operating concept to improve load paths.
- Improved accessibility and serviceability of components.
- Reduced costs by making components easier to manufacture, Design For Manufacture (DFM) approach
- Improved safety of operation by incorporating features to reduce opera- tor fatigue and effort.
- Improved engine assembly process on the Fort Worth Assembly line”
Marand is extremely pleased that the Australian government has recently elected to extend its initially invest in the SDD phase by signing the Production, Sustainment and Follow-on Development Memorandum of Under- standing (PSFDMOU) for the F-35 program and thanks the Australian Departments of Defence and Industry for supporting and assisting SME’s gain the necessary exposure to allow them to bid for JSF projects and win on a “Best Value” basis and to deliver products as part of Lockheed Martin’s global supply chain.
Apart from the Engine Removal & Installation Trailer and Adaptor Set contracts, Marand has been:
- The first Australian company to be awarded a contract to design and manufacture Cure and Trim Tooling for the manufacture of composite conventional edges
- The first Australian company to be awarded a contract to demonstrate a number of unique High Accuracy Automated Robotic Technologies
Marand Precision Engineering is a proven and successful Tier 1/Prime Contractor to the global Aerospace, Automotive and Rail sectors supplying Innovative Production, Automated and Tooling Solutions.