Electricity monitoring device for data collection
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Data collection and storage station
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Soldiers install a solar shade on a shelter
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water monitoring device
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FORT DEVENS, Mass. (Nov. 7, 2013) -- Have you ever wondered how much electricity or water you use in a day? Scientists and researchers at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center have, and are working to measure those resource uses to find ways to make base camps more energy efficient.

The center recently conducted a data collection event at the Base Camp Integration Lab, known as BCIL, at Fort Devens, Mass., in a partnership with Product Manager Force Sustainment Systems.

The data collection event was designed to measure the amount of electricity and water used in an expeditionary base camp such as those being used in Afghanistan today. The BCIL is composed of two instrumented 150-man base camps set up side-by-side. One camp establishes the base line data with standard issue equipment, while the other camp utilizes the latest innovations in energy-saving developments such as solar shades and water reclamation systems.

The importance of the data collection effort was summed up by NSRDEC's Dr. David Darkow, who said that the purpose of the event was to "collect data from the system to lead the authentication process" which supports future modeling and simulation. He added that it was critical not to have a negative "impact on Soldier readiness or quality of life" in the effort to become more environmentally friendly and reduce the logistics burden at Army base camps.

The data collection was supported by the 542nd Quartermaster Company (Force Provider), which occupied the BCIL for their annual training. The 542nd is the Army's only Force Provider company, which is responsible for the types of systems found in expeditionary base camps.

A true team effort, the data collection also involved the Army's Communications and Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, which supported many of the power and energy innovations; the Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center focusing on water reclamation technology; U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory; and the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

Bill Harris, the Experimentation, Demonstration, and Validation Team Field Lead for the Sustainability and Logistics-Basing Technology-enabled Capability Demonstration team, said that the event was designed to use available technology to make the data collection "predominantly automatic with technical and environmental data coming from instrumented systems, enabling better input for the modeling and simulation programs that will ultimately be used to forecast demands for power, water and fuel as well as predict waste generated."

The Sustainability/Logistics - Basing TeCD team is looking to reduce need for fuel resupply by 25 percent, reduce need for water resupply by 75 percent, and decrease waste by 50 percent while maintaining Force Provider- like quality of life. The focus of this effort is on the smaller bases, ranging from 50-person patrol bases to 1000-person small forward operating bases.

Harris described the data collection at the BCIL as "a good venue" with "the deliberate authentication process for validation of the information using 24 hour blocks of time, from midnight to midnight," with a team of specialists reviewing the numbers before accepting.

"This rehearsal will give the Experimentation, Demonstration, and Validation Team of the TeCD valuable experience in executing these steps as a team. The data collected during official demonstration will be used to improve and validate inputs and outputs for the modeling and analysis that will certify achievement of TeCD goals. We want to be sure we have identified and resolved any issues with the data management plan prior to official demonstration," said Harris.

The data collection utilized a number of measurement devices wirelessly connected to recording stations throughout the base camp. Monitors in the airbeam shelters recorded and transmitted electricity usage based on the operation of the environmental control units. The team also collected energy use data from other shelters and equipment as well as monitoring water usage in the field kitchens, latrines, showers and laundries.

To further explore the capabilities of new technology such as integrated waste, water and fuel management solutions for base camps, the Sustainability and Logistics-Basing TeCD is focused on reducing the fuel and water demands and waste generated while improving efficiencies, safety and, at a minimum, holding quality-of-life constant.

All of these efforts will reduce the logistics burden, make the camps more environmentally friendly and potentially save Soldiers' lives by taking more supply vehicles off the road and reducing the need for ground logistical convoys.

NSRDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.

RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.

Related Links:

Army Technology Live

Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center

U.S. Army Materiel Command

Army.mil: Science and Technology News

U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command