HMMWV jack plate program ahead of schedule at Anniston depot
Andy Catlett, a depot welder, produces 52 base plates a day during an 11-hour work day. Here, he welds the base plate for a HMMWV jack stand as part of a Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., project.

The depot is on its second jack plate program for the U.S. Army, this time producing quantities above the monthly schedule, and supervisors here say this work is supplementary to the depot's significantly increasing workload for the maintenance and overhaul of combat vehicles coming back from the war.

Anniston Army Depot turned out 4,632 jack plate kits in one month, said Richard Bentley, indirect support manager for the depot's cleaning, finish and fabrication value stream. The schedule for October called for 2,500, but the depot's manufacturing division completed 2,132 more than planned, in addition to the support they provide to every vehicle program in the depot's line-up.

"There is definitely a push to complete these jack plates as we work to meet the schedules for our regular programs," said Charles Israel, a depot production controller.

Soldiers in the field use an 8-ton jack to hoist a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or HMMWV, for preventative and regular maintenance on the widely and commonly used personnel carrier.

The depot received work from Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., in January to complete more than 5,000 base plates and adaptors for the 8-ton jack base kit. A new contract signed in August gave the depot 13,000 more kits to finish by the end of January 2008.

But the depot isn't doing this alone.

A machine shop in nearby Talladega is helping the depot meet the demands of the job by having returned their share of 5,000 finished kits ahead of schedule. And high school cooperative students in the Anniston Army Depot Career Academy are getting their on-the-job training with the final weld of 324 base plates and 126 adaptors, said Doug Freeman, supervisor in the welding branch of the manufacturing division.

"This gives the co-ops good experience and lets them see what a final product looks like," said Freeman, who has several former cooperative students-now employed as welder helpers-in his shop.

The welders on this project receive their parts from the depot's sheet metal branch where the raw materials are sheared, or cut, into 16-square-foot dimensions then sawed and smoothed according to the work requirement. Supervisor Jerome Sabree said the jack plate work is just another part of what the sheet metal mechanics do to help the Soldier.

"We have a quick turnaround time over here," said Sabree. "We just get our processes set up and go to work."

While the jack plate kits have caused the welders on depot to work extensive overtime, Freeman said the extra work in his shop has given workers a reason to "rethink their processes." The depot has recently been recognized for its achievements in lean manufacturing, and process improvement specialists schedule projects year-round in an effort to eliminate waste in the production lines.

On a typical day, four to five welders work on fitting the base plates and adaptors for the jack stands while five or six are assigned to welding the parts together. A depot welder can fit 70 base plates or weld 52 of them in an 11-hour work day, said Freeman.

All parts welded outside of the Freeman's shop are sent back to his welders to be moved to the metal finishing branch of the cleaning, finish and fabrication division where the base plates and adaptors can be plated with a phosphate coating, which provides a base for final paint and ultimately protects the jack plate from rusting.

Many of the electroplaters and sandblasters plating have been working overtime hours for the past five years because of the progressive increase in the depot's workload, said Jerry Cochran, supervisor.

After the depot manufactures the sheet metal into a jack stand plate, the kits are sent to Tyonek, a contractor committed to painting the plates before the depot ships the product to Blue Grass Army Depot, Ky.

"Because of the workload in the depot's paint shops, we had to outsource the painting of the plates in order to meet Rock Island's schedule," said Israel.

Page last updated Thu November 15th, 2007 at 17:48