Keeping military vehicles in fighting shape is no easy task:

Keeping dirt, water and mould at bay, battery preservation and limiting engine run time are significant maintenance issues for military land systems.  The Victorian designed and manufactured Support Master by Heuch drastically reduces the effort and costs associated with systems life cycle maintenance and maintains vehicles in a mission ready state at all times.  The Support Master also allows of continuous operation of electronic systems during training without increasing engine running hours, further reducing the maintenance burden.

Heuch’s Support Master combines generation of dry air for the conservation of electronics and materials, as well as providing smart battery conditioning and support charging.  Dry air passes through the interior of vehicles and equipment kits preventing corrosion and mould growth.

(Picture 2 – Corrosion)

(Picture 2 – Mould Growth)

 

While the intelligent battery charger maintains the vehicle in a mission ready state, increases life and reduces costs of batteries and operation of systems without idling engine.

Rheinmetall ordered the Support Masters as part of a larger land systems deal to Lithuania, with more orders expected from NATO allies soon.

Glen Hardham, Engineering Manager for Heuch, attributed their export success to their innovative solution and ability to rapidly move from prototype to production.  “We received great support from Rheinmetall Australia to help get this world class product into their global supply chain.  I’m proud that we have proven Australian SME manufacturers can still compete and win on a global scale.”

However, Glen is most enthusiastic about the benefit the project brought to Heuch’ s team.  “To pursue this opportunity, we took on an engineering intern from one of Melbourne’s leading Universities and brought on two new apprentices full time.  While the intern has returned to studies, I’m proud he’ll have a significant project win to place on his resume and the apprentices have simply been fantastic, taking real ownership of this job!  With continued export success we are looking to add another to our team.”

(Picture 4 – Heuch MD, Steve Oakley during prototype trials with Rheinmetall’s’ Boxer in Germany; late 2018)

(Picture 5 – Heuch Apprentice Refrigeration Mechanic Emma, with two production units; 2019)

While the Support Master was designed for Rheinmetall’s Boxer, it is compatible with most military vehicles.  “There is an opportunity for us to significantly reduce the ADF’s vehicle life cycle costs with our unit. Not just with the recently ordered Boxers, but with all our land systems.  Similarly, with further help from Government and Rheinmetall Australia, we hope to see the Support Master in service with other EU defence forces into the future”, explained Glen.

Service Master Benefits:

  • Reduction of scheduled maintenance at crew-level
    • Time saving of monthly crew service  => 8 h/vehicle
  • Eliminate mould risks
    • No hygienic risk for the crew
    • No downtime of the vehicle
    • No decontamination costs
      (ca. 10,000 € per vehicle excluding exchange of spare parts)
  • Avoidance of corrosion
    • Extension of equipment life time
    • Reduction of maintenance time and effort
    • (Removal of corrosion damage accounts for approx. 20% of the maintenance budgets)
  • Batteries/ electrical system and equipment
    • Extension of life time of batteries
    • Reduction of spare part costs
    • Reduction of engine run time and maintenance
  • Storage costs
    • Reduction of stocks for a lower capital commitment
    • Reduction of administration and clearing efforts at depot
  • Maintenance effort (corrective)
    • Reduction of unplanned maintenance activities