TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa., (Army News Service, April 10, 2007) - Three Tobyhanna electronics mechanics' suggestion to replace a diode in a sensor will save the Army about $150,000 a year. The suggestion also earned the men a $3,939.99 cash award.

In a twist of terminology, instead of discarding a $3,356 basic sight assembly scanner when the Zero Azimuth Position Sensor broke, Tim Kime, David Voorhees and Andy Martino proposed, via the command's suggestion program, to reclassify the ZAPS from a component to a part, thereby authorizing them to repair the broken sensor. The ZAPS is used in the basic sight assembly scanner of the Bradley fighting vehicle.

"It took a long time, but I always thought the idea would get approved," Kime said. "It seemed like a no-brainer - spend $20 to save $4,000." Electro-Optics/Night Vision Division works on an average of 225 scanners a year.

Gaps in the supply line and high costs lead the mechanics to discover that eight out of 10 times, only a diode needed to be replaced to bring a broken scanner back online. The diode costs $20 and takes about an hour to install.

After working on the ZAPS for several years, the mechanics knew there had to be a better way of doing business. Through trial and error, the three men spent their off-duty time devising a plan to save time and money by fixing the scanners at the depot. The unit consists of 14 parts, including the sensor and a glass prism and lens. Repairing the electronics part of the unit enabled workers to save the valuable prism.

"We realized the only way to solve the problems was to fix the scanners in- house," Voorhees said. "We had to get the reclassification accepted to make repairs." He explained that if an item is classified a component, it isn't repaired; however, a part can be repaired.

The mechanics started the reclassification effort in 2002 by submitting their idea to the suggestion program. Working together, Kime found the necessary parts to fix the sensor, Voorhees laid out the design and Martino completed the paperwork. Confident the suggestion would be approved, they also started saving broken scanners in the hopes they could make repairs and return them to serviceable condition.

"We're pretty proud of what we were able to accomplish," Martino said. "It feels good to help the troops in the field and we saved a lot of money."

(Jacqueline Boucher serves with the Tobyhanna Army Depot Public Affairs Office.)