By Mr. Thomas Peske (AMC)May 12, 2009
CRANE, Ind. - With a fresh perspective and a desire to improve conditions for those who support the Warfighter, Crane Army Ammunition Activity Intern Fred Robinson provided key recommendations that will help the activity reduce waste, improve the environment and save money.
Robinson, a recent graduate from the University of Texas at El Paso, came to Crane Army through the Minority College Relations Program in January. His assignment was to complete two pollution prevention opportunity assessments. This is a study in which different options to reduce pollution are identified, evaluated technically and financially and then the best options are recommended for further study and implementation.
He specifically developed improvements for the plating line such as installing an Air Knife, using a wetting agent in the zinc plating baths and automating the plating process all intended to reduce drag out. Reducing drag out reduces the pollutant loading and volume of rinse water requiring treatment, the usage rate for your process bath chemicals, wastewater generated, and associated costs.
According to Crane Army Physical Scientist (Environmental) Frank Mitchell, who worked with Robinson, the benefits to the project are important. "Reducing drag out, saves money in purchase of new plating solutions, reduces the contamination in the waste water and thus not only makes it easier to treat but also increases volume capacity of the treatment plant. In addition, each time we ship hazardous waste, we certify that we have a program to reduce the generation of hazardous waste. So Fred's efforts support this program. Overall the benefits are significant."
Robinson also developed a recommendation to implement computed radiography for the Crane Army X-ray Inspection. Through the use of a digital x-ray machine, Crane Army would eliminate spent photographic chemical disposal and would not need to facilitate the picking up and disposal of waste. His recommendation suggested that implementation would result in 100 percent payback in approximately 13 to 14 months with second and consecutive year savings of approximately $70,000.
"I believe the digital x-ray project will definitely help Crane Army be more environmentally friendly as well as saving a lot of money in the future from not having to spend money on developing and processing film like the current machine does," Robinson said.
Mitchell stated he felt Robinson's fresh perspective was invaluable at approaching the problems in a new way. He said, "Fred was very safety aware and this contributed to making the projects interesting by considering not just money savings but also worker health and safety improvements. His efforts and presentation helps also to draw everyone's attention to the opportunities and to gain buy-in in reducing our environmental footprint."
Crane Army Environmental Protection Specialist Doug Johnson echoed that sentiment when he said, "It's nice to get a new set of eyes looking at our operations without the inherent biases Frank and I have developed from looking at the same operations time and time again. It's always helpful to go over questions and issues about our operation with the interns, since it forces us to understand our operations and their resultant environmental effects a little better."
Robinson credited a team mentality by all the people in Crane Army's Safety office as being crucial toward his success. It is an experience he will be able to put to use as he leaves college and looks for a future job.
He said. "It was a very rewarding internship in many ways. I was lucky enough to find out what a government position consists of and all the advantages it has over other choices in the job market. I felt like a vital part of the safety office and was happy to work on projects that would have an impact on the future of Crane Army."
Crane Army was established Oct. 1977 and is a tenant of the Navy Region Midwest, Naval Support Activity Crane. The Army activity maintains ordnance professionals and infrastructure to receive, store, ship, produce, renovate and demilitarize conventional ammunition, missiles and related components.