By John B. Snyder, Watervliet Arsenal Public AffairsMarch 25, 2016
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. (March 2016) -- In an era of countless news headlines that tout cost overruns for defense procurement contracts, it ought to be refreshing to hear that the Army's Watervliet Arsenal has actually found a way to cut production costs for two artillery systems by simply leveraging a public-private partnership that it has with a company called Electralloy.
"What this means is that after significant testing we have learned that we can now use Electralloy's furnaces to support our cannon production for the 155mm self-propelled and towed howitzer systems," said Joseph Turcotte, the Watervliet Arsenal's deputy commander. "The tests went so well that we believe we will be able to decrease our forge production time by nearly 25 percent, while using low-cost natural gas to heat the furnaces, both of which will significantly reduce the production costs for those two weapon systems."
In the past two years, Electralloy has invested millions of dollars to install three state-of-the-art furnaces here, as well as upgrading other forge-area operations, said Tracy Rudolph, the president and chief operating officer of Electralloy.
Through this public-private partnership or P3, which was renewed in 2015 for a 20-year period, Electralloy uses the Arsenal's workforce, as well as the facility's rotary forge, to produce high-temperature alloys such as nickel, stainless, and Nitronic grades for a variety of demanding end-use applications. Additionally, Electralloy and the Arsenal were certified by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) in 2015 to produce stainless steel forgings for marine applications.
Rudolph added that the relationship his company has with the Arsenal has gone far beyond the original agreement.
"This partnership, which is rich in interpersonal relations, has grown far beyond my expectations that I had four years ago when I first made contact with the Arsenal," Rudolph said. "Because of the great, positive working environment here, we have been able to grow our capacity by nearly 70 percent in just two years."
Turcotte said he is so pleased with the results of the recent tests that he is challenging his team to test other production line requirements, such as the 120mm Abrams Tank gun, and the 105mm tubes used for the Stryker main gun systems and AC-130 gunships.
The Arsenal and Electralloy have been working together since 2013 in a public-private partnership.
As intended, the partnership between Watervliet and Electralloy is proving to be beneficial to both parties. Electralloy has been able to make investments in and utilize the Arsenal's forge equipment, while the Arsenal has been able to retain critical forging skills in an era of declining defense requirements. Now with the approved furnace use, the Arsenal will also be able to lower the cost of operations.
The volume of forging work that Electralloy has generated since partnering with Watervliet has in large part allowed the Arsenal to recently hire 25 full-time employees who are now well-versed in forging operations.
This Watervliet Arsenal effort reinforces recent statements by Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy in regards to creating more synergy with public-private partners to save money in an era of declining budgets.
"Public-private partnerships truly have a practical value ... (they) will make our Army more efficient, investing fewer dollars to accomplish the same outcomes. We want to make every dollar count," Murphy said on March 17 to members of the military and industry who attended the Association of the United States Army's Global Force Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Ala.
The Watervliet Arsenal is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility and is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States having begun operations during the War of 1812.
Today's Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark had $138 million in revenue in fiscal year 2015 and has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100 million.
Electralloy -- G.O. Carlson Inc. company -- is a producer of custom and specialized alloy tubular and bar products that are used in critical, sea-worthy applications, such as the advanced Coast Guard Cutter, aerospace, nuclear, and for Department of Defense applications.