CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. – Gen. Ed Daly, commanding general of the Army Materiel Command, and AMC Organic Industrial Base Modernization Task Force members, visited Letterkenny Army Depot — also called LEAD — Jan. 13 to discuss the installation's modernization strategy and how it dovetails with AMC’s priorities.
According to Daly, the goal for OIB installations is to demonstrate a clear modernization vision, be poised for the divestiture of legacy systems and sustain enduring and future systems.
Daly’s visit to the installation came as part of the OIB Modernization Task Force’s initiative to visit each of the 23 sites in the OIB. Letterkenny is one of the sites that manufacture, upgrade and reset Army equipment. The Army OIB consists of more than $30 billion in facilities and infrastructure, the construction of which dates back to World War II.
“The OIB Modernization Implementation Plan will take us into 2035 and beyond,” Daly said during the OIB Modernization War Game, held Dec. 13-15, 2021, at AMC headquarters and virtually.
Letterkenny Army Depot’s 2035 Modernization Strategy focuses on multiple lines of effort working in unison to allow the depot to sustain Army readiness, meet current Army demands and posture the depot to maintain future requirements.
“Depot modernization is critical to keep pace with emerging technologies and ensure agility to meet requirements at the time of need,” said Kate Williams, director of the Office of Strategic Management and oversight for the depot’s modernization plan. “LEAD’s modernization team formed in 2019 and comprises experts from across the depot. They developed a plan that integrates the workforce, equipment, facilities and technologies to support enduring and future systems.”
The first line of effort in LEAD’s 2035 Modernization Strategy focuses on the workforce and training. This plan takes a holistic approach to the depot’s talent management.
“We want to develop an adaptable workforce, acquire the right people, develop their skills and retain their talent,” said Rick Fisher, the workforce and training line of effort lead. “We need to invest in and grow our workforce so we can get the most out of our people and our people can get the most out of the depot.”
The end state of this line of effort results in an agile workforce whose capabilities are less contingent on the products the depot produces but are instead aligned with diversified knowledge, skills and abilities that allow the workforce to adapt as workload changes.
“Seventy percent of our workload is going to change over the next 15 years,” Williams said. “It’s imperative that we develop the workforce of tomorrow to be prepared for tomorrow’s workload.”
Key elements within this line of effort include developing partnerships to support talent acquisition, ongoing training to enhance employee versatility and career development opportunities.
The strategy’s second line of effort centers on equipping the depot with the proper equipment to sustain current operations and expand to facilitate future weapon systems.
“Our goal is to develop highly productive, modern facilities that will allow us to reduce lead times and improve the quality of our products,” said Spring Freerksen, mechanical engineer and equipment line of effort lead. “We’re seeking technology that allows Letterkenny not only to meet but exceed future Army mission requirements.”
In order to keep equipment purchases from adversely impacting the depot’s direct labor rates, the strategy focuses on utilizing partnerships to mitigate costs and benchmarking efforts with academia and industry to maintain a competitive edge. Letterkenny has ongoing efforts with Wichita State University, the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Lab and the U.S. Army Research Lab to run pilot programs. These programs focus on using emerging technology, identifying potential return on investment, identifying workforce skill requirements and promoting the Army as a viable career option in these emerging fields.
Depot personnel make special considerations when selecting the type of technology the depot must acquire to ensure that it supports specific weapons systems such as the Extended Range Cannon Artillery, PATRIOT, Sentinel and the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor.
“We have to be mindful of the equipment we’re buying and what we’re using it for,” said Will Greenland, chief of the Production Engineering Division at LEAD. “It’s our responsibility to tie these emerging technologies to the weapon systems they can support.”
The third line of effort focuses on revitalizing the depot’s production facilities. The depot’s robust facility modernization plan replaces the current, aging facilities that constrict production efficiency with more than 1 million square feet of consolidated, agile and modern facilities capable of supporting Letterkenny’s portion of the 31+4 programs laid out by U.S. Army Futures Command. The depot’s production space consolidation will also bring security benefits to the installation.
“Our focus is on consolidating our footprint and bringing that footprint into the secured area,” said Tyler Jones, engineering supervisor and facility line of effort lead. “Letterkenny will have a consolidated footprint of versatile facilities and sustainable infrastructure that supports dynamic operations.”
Current efforts that support facility modernization include maximizing Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization funding to upgrade two of the depot’s existing production facilities. Future plans include phased, new construction projects tied to program focus groups to ensure the facilities match the needs of the programs.
“This approach allows us to improve our employee working conditions, reduce hazards and increase our efficiency while providing continuity of support and mitigating financial risks,” said Williams.
The fourth line of effort centers on the depot’s information technology and related infrastructure. Goals for this strategy include upgrades to the depot’s IT infrastructure, maximizing Wi-Fi across the installation, utilizing the Industrial Enclave to support data dashboards and analytics from industrial systems and integrating technology to improve shop-floor efficiencies.
“We’re seeking technology that also provides training applications for artisans,” said Mike Rhodes, deputy director of the Directorate of Information Management at LEAD. “Ultimately, integrating these technologies will create efficiencies on the shop floor.”
IT injections, such as Radio Frequency Identification and the Industrial Enclave, will minimize downtime caused by administrative tasks, enhancing productivity.
“Not only will these solutions reduce unnecessary downtime in our current processes, but we’ll also be able to use the data generated by those solutions to solve problems,” said Jamie Budesky, IT specialist.
The final line of effort in LEAD’s 2035 Modernization Strategy focuses on energy and environmental initiatives. According to a U.S Army directive, installations must meet energy and water sustainment benchmarks. In order to meet this directive, Letterkenny has already worked to reduce its electric load but is exploring more significant energy savings and options for recapturing energy.
“What we’re pushing toward is reducing our energy consumption and increasing our energy recapture,” said Rob Slocum, deputy director of the Directorate of Public Works.
Slocum and his team have developed an innovation project that captures wasted generator test energy and recycles it. Energy initiatives like this reduce the installation’s energy costs and decrease the heat energy released into the environment.
“The current generator test logs indicate that enough energy to power more than ten homes each year can be captured under current testing,” Slocum said. “Each step toward efficiency and technology is closer to our modernization goal. Generator energy recycling is just one step.”
Other energy and environmental initiatives include energy conservation measures, green roofs, implementation of thermoelectric technology and harnessing renewable energy sources.
“We’re actively researching options that are available for renewable resources on the depot so that we’re able to meet the Army directive,” said Christian Silva, an industrial engineer at LEAD.
Letterkenny’s modernization team is currently administering modernization training to all of the supervisory positions on the installation with the goal of implementing the plan and gaining user feedback. The supervisory-level training will enable the depot’s leaders to implement the Modernization Team’s strategies and prepare the workforce for changes associated with depot modernization.
“Letterkenny Army Depot has 80 years of history built upon the shoulders of innovators and trailblazers. We are building tomorrow’s legacy with the choices we make today,” said Williams. “We have challenges ahead, but our path is made easier by the shared ideas, energies and talents of our workforce. It’s the depot’s mission to ensure Army readiness and preserve Army buying power. The Nation’s air, missile defense and Long Range Precision Fire Systems are more crucial than ever. Our workload may change, but our mission will not – we will remain ready.”
Letterkenny Army Depot is the Army’s premier professional organic maintenance facility that provides overhaul, repair and modifications for tactical missile air defense and space systems, electric power generation equipment and various military vehicles, support systems and protection programs. LEAD is a subordinate of U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command and is the Air and Missile Defense and Long Range Precision Fires depot, supporting systems for the Department of Defense, foreign partners and industry. Letterkenny Army Depot was established in 1942 and is a government-owned and -operated industrial installation located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
For more information about LEAD, visit https://www.letterkenny.army.mil/
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