ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. — Maintenance work in the field has to be completed quickly. The warfighter doesn’t have time to sit and wait for repairs or scheduled maintenance. The forward repair activity teams have the same thought process, and they have a new method of field repair and maintenance.
Many of the environments the FRA teams perform work do not have the infrastructure to stage, set up and perform efficient, safe repair and maintenance of the vehicles. The need to solve these issues led TACOM to purchase ten “miniature depots” with a six-ton lift system.
Kerry Anderson, logistics management specialist, said the repair facilities can be constructed by three FRA teammates in approximately one day as long as they have the proper tools and equipment to assist in the construction. The military will be notified in advance and provided a list of equipment and tools the FRA team will need for construction when they arrive in-country.
Anniston Army Depot partnered with the original equipment manufacturer, Merrill Technology Group from Saginaw, MI, to train 10 individuals as subject matter experts. “Depot and FRA leadership viewed this training as vital to the mission,” Anderson said. “The leadership wants SMEs qualified to operate the lift.” SMEs include a variety of skill sets such as machinists, welders, planners, shop leaders, etc.
Teammates were trained how to unpack, assemble, operate, troubleshoot disassemble and re-pack the entire system into its original shipping state.
Israel Rivera, logistics management specialist, said the ability to cross-train different skillsets to operate this system safely and efficiently further develops and improves the capabilities of the FRA teams. “A person with any skillset has the ability to learn and operate the lift no matter their area of expertise,” Israel stated.
Rivera has 28 years of military experience, so he has first-hand knowledge of the importance of the new equipment. Rivera said, “It is priceless to provide depot-level support with this capability in close proximity to the warfighter.”
Johnny Johnson, electronic integrated systems leader and FRA team leader, is being trained to become an SME. Johnson said these new field repair facilities will allow for multiple maintenance shops and functions to be set up in one mobile facility.
Functions such as a weld shop and a machine shop can be set up along with the lift system. The FRA team’s tools can be stored and transported in the containers accompanying the lift. “Think of it as a self-contained maintenance facility,” Johnson said.
The military can provide two levels of maintenance on the current platforms in the field. Depot-level support from the FRA teams via forward maintenance activity can provide work above the two levels provided by the military.
Johnson said with this facility, it is easier to pull the vehicle in the main bay and perform the maintenance. The SMEs can pull packs, repair armor and use the lift inside without being out in the elements. “The key is this lift system and environment is safer,” said Johnson.
Depot leadership has invested time in tracking the progress of the training and possible utilization of the new field repair facilities. “Our leadership has been heavily involved,” Rivera said. “The leadership completed evaluations of manuals and tools, so they can provide the FRA teams everything they need to be successful.”