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AeroDef Insider Insights

Q&A: Sam Kellett, Jr.

SME recently spoke with Sam Kellett, Jr., chairman, CEO and co-founder at United Sciences LLC. Sam is responsible for establishing and executing the overall strategic direction of United Sciences and drives the development and marketing of all precision 3D hole scanning solutions for targeted industries.

United Sciences’ eFit 3D ear scanner is now the industry standard in the hearing aid and custom in-ear monitor industries. United Sciences’ Aeroscan solution, 3D scanner for bore-hole and countersink inspections, is currently being adopted in multiple form factors by all of the prime aerospace airframe manufacturers.

Kellett is a featured presenter at this year’s AeroDef event.

AeroDef Manufacturing® is an aerospace manufacturing and defense manufacturing conference and exposition, showcasing the industry’s most advanced technologies. Speakers and presenters from the highest levels of government and industry will share their vision of the potential of technology, collaboration and public policy to transform manufacturing. Over the next few weeks, will share insights from some of the featured AeroDef speakers. To hear their full presentations, meet them face to face, and to experience the pairing of high-concept, integrated solutions with real-world applications, we invite you to attend AeroDef Manufacturing April 29-May 2 in Long Beach, California.

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Given your experience with brain and body sensing technologies, such as the custom-fit hearable wearable that you’ve created, called the aware, and seeing first-hand the advancements made in the past decade alone, what do you see as the tipping point for augmented reality? From being the side show bright shiny thing (like televisions were in the 1950s), to being an essential part of every day life

A key driver to adoption was getting the form factor, the UI, the functions and features right. Google Glass is best positioned today to be worn by all production line workers because it is lite, very easy to use, and has the great functionality. As an example, a lot of people don’t know you can record events with Glass on the production line. Upskill’s software drives the proper features through Google Glass and now enables it to be customized for specific tasks on the production line. The work instructions you can view through Upskill are really what drives the usability.

Given your unique insight, what would you say is the biggest challenge facing the aerodefense manufacturing industry in the next ten years?

One word…Composites. The thickness varies up to 8% and every drilled hole is a little bit different. Delamination and fiber tear outs cannot be seen on the surface and need to be tracked over time. Unnecessary de-stacking of composites must be eliminated as well, which takes way too much time. Unfortunately, composites slow down automation and throughput due to the difficulty in working with this very complex material.

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See what’s coming — and what leading companies are doing to stay competitive — at the industry’s premier conference and exposition, where you’ll find integrated technology solutions from more than 200 aerospace and defense manufacturing suppliers.
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Your 3d scanner for bore-hole and countersink inspections is currently being adopted by all of the prime aerospace airframe manufacturers. Your eFit 3D ear scanner is now the industry standard for hearing aids. How did United Sciences take the competition on by storm? What were the steps involved? What are the top qualities of your employees/team?

The key has been partnering with industry leaders to really understand their requirements and pain points. Innovating inside a lab with no direction from the industry leaders is an exercise in futility. Our customers know how to build air frames really well and they understand their problems way better than me.

As it relates to the top qualities of our team. Our team must always have a sense of urgency and must be able to persevere through any kind of adversity. The aerospace industry is very demanding for a reason, lives are at stake. If you do not take it that seriously you will not last long in this industry. When the industry leaders give you a chance, you must do whatever it takes to deliver even when it is pure innovation. Innovation can be really frustrating because their typically is no one on the planet to call for help. Isolating problems and then solving these problems takes discipline and mental toughness. One of our team members has spent 30 all-nighters in the lab, in the last 90 days, for one of our customers. You cannot pay someone enough to do 30 all-nighters in a lab. There are a ton of talented engineers out there, but only a few that will do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Where do you see the future of augemented reality and 3d data analytics heading in the next five years? How will this affect airframe manufacturing and MRO processes?

Combining airframe data collected from aeroscan, Google glass, and upskill is a critical piece of the digital thread solution. This data can guide real-time changes on the production line which reduces down-time and rework. The combined data also enables the creation of a feedback loop, driven by machine learning, with the ability to track this data thorugh mro. The information gleaned from the feedback loop can help to improve the design of the plane and manufacturing tolerances.

Combining airframe data from aeroscan, Google glass, and upskill gives OEM’s a better understanding of the health of the part before the plane leaves the factory floor. By capturing more information about the health of the part on the factory floor, new predictive analytics business models can also be implemented by the OEM’s.

One of our customers is actually starting to do all of this now, and they are a major OEM.

What’s the most important take-away you will dive into during your session?

Collecting the right data from the airframe will drive automation and will help OEM’s build airframes faster, better, and more cost effectively.


Hear more from Sam Kellett, Jr. during his presentation, “Leveraging Augmented Reality and 3D Data Analytics to Improve Airframe Manufacturing and MRO Processes,” at AeroDef on Wednesday, May 1, at 11:00 AM in Room 201B.