As the Army has changing operational requirements and makes technological advancements, it is imperative readiness capabilities progress as well, including maintenance capabilities. Soldier skills are evolving and it was realized a requirement exists for a modernized trailer-mounted welding shop, to bridge a gap between the maintenance concepts of welding and cutting, in support of current and future forces. Enter the Next Generation Shop Equipment Welding.
Merging welding, cutting, and metal manipulation capabilities will be instrumental for the users, military occupational specialty 91Es (allied trades specialists), who are trained in both welding and machining skills. The MOS 91E position was created in July 2010 after the Army combined MOSs 44B (welder) and 44E (machinist), but new equipment did not come with this new position.
Currently allied trades specialists' welding and cutting operations are done in garrison and in the field on a variety of equipment. Having a one-stop shop will allow the allied trades specialists to better utilize their full range of skills on one piece of equipment.
Designing the NG SEW
The development of the NG SEW dates back to July 2016. It was then that different design proposals were developed. It would later be decided, after consideration of cost, weight, reliability, manufacturability, maintainability, sustainability, and safety, to utilize a hinge design.
The hinge design selected for the NG SEW incorporates custom-built cabinets mounted on hinges that allow the cabinets to swing out from the center. Tools and equipment will be placed in the cabinets on shelves, mounted to struts, or mounted using brackets and tie downs. Depending on the size and type of item, the equipment may be mounted to the cabinet doors, placed in cases, or in tool chests.
The welding equipment selected is capable of three-phase operation, and military-style power connections will be used. The generator will operate as a standalone system, as the electrical system would already be hooked up, requiring only routine maintenance for operation. Although this design concept incorporates more capabilities, it will be similar to legacy systems.
To ensure sustainability, a single acquisition approach will be used. The components of the NG SEW are mature and are commercially available. The intent is to streamline with commercial-off-the-shelf components and field the NG SEW during a 10-year period.
The new design is a team effort, consisting of program managers and planners; assembly leads and engineers; quality, environmental, safety, and packaging specialists; and many other disciplines. Several organizations have important roles in this diverse team, but the primary team members come from Combined Arms Support Command, Product Manager Sets, Kits, Outfits and Tools, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, and the Rock Island Arsenal-Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center.
RIA-JMTC has personnel involved from program management, inventory management, process planning, quality assurance, mechanical engineering, and assembly subject matter experts. Including assembly SMEs in the design process is not the norm for new product design, but having input from the workforce assembling the final product on how the final product is designed has proven to be invaluable.
Wolfgang Petermann, product manager for PdM-SKOT, said, "The capabilities of RIA-JMTC are a key component of making the NG SEW a success and we look forward to working together as a team to bring this critical ordnance equipment to the warfighter on schedule and within budget, with all of its required capabilities."
Increased mobility and deployability for field maintenance with significantly increased efficiency in on-site welding and cutting capability keeps in line with the Army Maintenance Transformation. Combat readiness and effectiveness of the Army in the field will be enhanced, as the NG SEW provides real time welding to assist efficient battle damage assessment and repair, and has the ability to rapidly repair tactical vehicles forward on the battlefield to reduce evacuation and recovery missions.
Designed to allow for rapid deployment, the NG SEW is transportable without restriction by standard highway, rail, marine, and air modes; transportable by the assigned unit's organic vehicles such as a tactical truck from the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles or a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle; and is equipped with lifting and tie-down provisions making it capable of helicopter lift by the UH-60L and CH-47D helicopters. Once onsite, a NG SEW can be fully set up and operational within 15 minutes with two 91E soldiers.
While still in the beginning stages of its development, the NG SEW will provide a modernized, robust, all-purpose welding and cutting capability when completed.