Setting the force at Fort Bragg: Taking care of vehicle, aircraft repairs
March 3, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Soldiers need weapons and vehicles to complete ground and air missions. Over time, machinery breaks down, rusts and malfunctions. The harsh conditions Soldiers endure while deployed are the same for these tools of the trade. If they're broken, who fixes them' "MMD (Material Maintenance Division) can repair almost all tactical equipment assigned to Fort Bragg units and tenants," said Joe Karmazyn, Directorate of Logistics MMD chief. The division, in partnership with ITT Industries, a government contractor, provides maintenance support to ensure mission readiness for Fort Bragg units, Army garrison, and other military units training on Fort Bragg. During the past year MMD repaired or serviced: 22,669 small arms and night vision goggles 3,558 pieces of equipment left behind in theater 12 completely refurbished aircraft 1,552 mobilization/ demobilization resets 1,582 unserviceable engines, transmissions and other parts repaired to a national standard, also known as national maintenance or NMP. MMD is responsible for all repairs for ground and aircraft maintenance. There are five MMD programs to take care of maintenance for any situation: Back up field support Reset left behind equipment National Maintenance Program Pass back maintenance Common level support for base operations There are two types of maintenance the division performs - field maintenance and sustainment maintenance. Field maintenance focuses on returning a weapon system to an operational status. Mechanics test the equipment by fault isolation, and then replace failed components, assemblies or modules. Military units normally do this type of maintenance. "What the units can't handle, they'll send it to us," said Karmazyn. "It allows the Soldiers to have more time with their Families. That's the idea behind it." Sustainment maintenance is focused on repairing components, assemblies and modules in support of the national supply system. The objective of this type of maintenance is to perform repairs on all supported items to one standard that provides a consistent and measurable level of reliability. "We fix the piece of equipment to 10-20 standard," said Karmazyn. "We give it back in an almost new condition, completely serviced with every part that was damaged, replaced or repaired." Like the rest of DoL, the MMD improved their productivity using the Lean Six Sigma process. "September 11 and the War on Terrorism caused our MMD personnel to recognize the need to improve and transform our repair processes and procedures in order to accommodate the tremendous surge in equipment generated from our forces at war," said Robert Franks, Fort Bragg director of logistics. One of the more innovative ideas implemented is the Pit Stop Repair Program modeled after NASCAR pit crews. "(Like NASCAR) we bring the vehicle in the shop, we fix it in the pit and we get it back into the fight," said Karmazyn. The program has two major components - the parts and the pit. MMD "kits" parts needed 95 percent of the time during the repair process for five major vehicle fleets: HMMWV - high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle or humvee MTV - medium tactical vehicle LMTV - light medium tactical vehicle PLS - palletized load system HEMTT - heavy expanded mobility tactical truck All parts needed for a biannual service requirement for each vehicle are placed in a secured wheeled cart and delivered to bays where mechanics are ready to work with all the proper tools. The mechanics also have computers in each bay with automated reference manuals and the Wildcat Maintenance Management System. This system allows mechanics to open work orders, order parts if needed, and close orders right from the pit. The WMMS can also be accessed through a wireless system. What if the mechanic needs another part' Small parts are tagged and then stored vertically in a retrieval system, according to Jim Huggins, ITT deputy program manager. A runner can receive an order from the mechanic, punch in a number for that particular part and have it for the mechanic in minutes. Larger parts are stored in a warehouse nearby. Productivity went from 75 vehicles per month to 250 per month according to Franks. Another concept to help the Soldiers with their mission is the DoL "On the Move" trailers. These vehicles are equipped with a nitrogen generation system to purge NVGs, weapon gauging tools, and repair parts for tailored missions, providing support to the Soldiers tactical weapons and equipment at their location. Laptops with wireless connections to WMMS enable repairmen to open and close job orders right at the site. The MMD continues to execute both Reset and LBE programs simultaneously, while at the same time continues to perform its main support mission to the Fort Bragg garrison units, increasing readiness of all equipment. The LBE program takes equipment left at the home station while the warfighter is deployed and reconditions it into an almost-new state (10/20 standard). As units deploy, equipment is transferred to (Army Material Command.) Eventually, the equipment is job ordered to MMD, where it is restored to 10/20 standard, said Frederick Favreau, ITT maintenance manager. Left behind equipment and Reset are programs newly implemented by AMC with the intent of keeping the warfighter's equipment well maintained and fully operational for all Army missions. The Reset Program involves reconditioning the warfighter's equipment upon return from deployment. The repairs are performed within 150 to 180 days and returned to the warfighter based on a scheduled timeline. At Simmons Army Airfield, technicians from the Aviation Logistics Management Branch repair, test, and reset aircraft parts to the same high quality as their fellow ground maintenance team members. The aircraft mechanics test all engines so when it's put back into an aircraft, there's no worry of failure. "You can't pull off to the side of the road and fix it," said Paul Mullen, ALMB Aviation Maintenance Branch chief. The four most common helicopters repaired at the ALMB are: UH 60 Blackhawk CH 47 Chinook AH 64D Apache Longbow OH 58D Kiowa Warrior Everything on an aircraft, from Plexiglas windows and hydraulic systems to engines and new paint can be fixed at the ALMB hangar. Helicopter blades can be repaired and balanced at ALMB, a repair usually reserved for depot-level maintenance, according to Mullen. The newest edition to the ALMB maintenance facility is a paint booth large enough to accommodate some types of aircraft, scheduled to open soon. No matter whether it shoots, moves, communicates, lifts, or flies, DoL's MMD/ALMB can fix it for the Soldier to get back into the fight. They give the Soldier precious time with his Family and peace of mind when he turns the key or pulls the trigger. The Materiel Maintenance Division lives up to their motto of 'Setting the Force.'