AEDC Spark Tank: Program helps schedulers constrain resource conflicts Published May 24, 2022 By Bradley Hicks AEDC Public Affairs ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- High-pressure air is considered a precious commodity at Arnold Air Force Base. This asset is necessary for much of the testing that occurs at Arnold, headquarters of Arnold Engineering Development Complex. Optimizing use of the limited high-pressure air, or HPA, resource is of the utmost importance, as doing so would boost test throughput and improve customer satisfaction by reducing potential test delays. The Scenario Optimizer for AEDC Resources, or SOAR, aims to do just that. SOAR is a desktop software application that will allow rapid-fire “what if” comparisons of different test schedules based on test user requirements. “SOAR compares test user HPA demands across potential scheduling windows of opportunity and identifies HPA restrictions and/or limitations,” said Greg Sterling, an aerospace engineer at Arnold. SOAR works by tracking HPA supply, storage and users over each minute of each planned schedule period. These calculations, which also take into account pressure requirements and limitations, are then used to identify and highlight HPA usage conflicts. Users of SOAR will include the Mission Integration Group and the Integrated Scheduling Office of the AEDC Test Operations and Sustainment contractor. According to Sterling, the program will support existing MIG schedule optimization processes with more detailed, data-driven decisions. The SOAR program is among the eight projects that received funding through the AEDC Spark Tank. The Spark Tank, which was open to military, DOD civilians and contractors across all AEDC units, allowed members of the workforce to propose suggestions for how to improve AEDC processes, products and test capabilities. Those awarded funding were notified in mid-February. Spark Tank money was awarded through several diverse sources. The SOAR proposal received AEDC Innovation Grant funding. Sterling, who served as principal investigator on the Spark Tank proposal, said AEDC will benefit from the more data-driven approach SOAR would provide to schedule and minimization of HPA conflicts. “SOAR will allow the MIG to optimize schedules based on how much HPA will be used over time on specific test days in order to closely examine or compare alternative facility storage configurations,” Sterling said. The software will also provide better visualization of data associated with such complicated resource requirements. “The tool will allow quick comparisons of different schedule options and of different use profiles for a test cell while providing output displays and graphs that show status and conflicts with HPA over time,” Sterling said. “Ultimately, SOAR will help increase test throughput by more efficiently scheduling our limited resource.” A demonstration of the SOAR application is planned for this August. It is unlikely that SOAR will remain relegated solely to the deconfliction of HPA. Sterling said future program developments will add other utilities such as cooling water. Sterling said he is appreciative of AEDC support for the Spark Tank program and willingness of those involved to explore new ideas that could positively impact the AEDC mission. “I was glad for the opportunity to develop software like this and to examine possible improvements to our existing test optimization processes,” he said.