By Rebecca ParkerNovember 12, 2009
The Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center Mobile Maintenance unit is making the job of a military fuel tester a little bit easier. Staying in stride with technological advances, the team has taken advantage of the availability of the World Wide Web. One month ago, the unit launched the first and only website that supports the needs of PQASE operators.
PQASE, Petroleum Quality Analysis System Enhanced, tests the quality of fuel being used on military machinery. It tells the operator if there's a problem with the fuel, if the fuel is usable, and what he or she needs to do with it to make it usable. PQASE also helps determine whether the fuel is for ground use or air use.
"When you or I get on an airplane we don't ever think about something like the fuel. We don't have to. It's checked. We know that," says Dan Breitenstein, program manager for Aviation Fuel Laboratories at the Arsenal. "Soldiers don't have that advantage. So they have to check it themselves."
The mobility of PQASE allows operators to check fuel to a standard that in the past has typically only been done in a land-based laboratory.
"It's absolutely state-of-the-art," says Breitenstein. "We have instruments in PQAS that are not available to the commercial world yet, because they were designed for the military-miniaturized and ruggedized so that we can have them in these laboratories. It's quite a system."
The PQASE website was initiated to help the PQASE operator keep his lab running. Possibly the site's most significant function is the ability for parts to be ordered online. Expanded diagrams are also available on the site so operators can order by part number. Mobile Maintenance has an agreement with the customer, Product Manager, Petroleum and Water Systems (PM-PAWS), that says they will respond anywhere within the United States within four business days, and anywhere in the world within seven business days. The website also offers 24-hour support and frequently asked questions.
"If they really have a problem, we can get them out of it," says Breitenstein. "All of our supplies are right here on hand and we have worked all of the transportation issues to get it out of here in a timely manner. Our performance is graded upon how quickly we respond."
The website allows for more interaction with the customer, and to help with efficiency and accessibility.
"The idea of the website is to improve overall Army readiness for the PQASE," says Greg Lupton, production manager for the Mobile Maintenance unit. When one system goes down in the field, we can get something there."
The website may also help to promote the diversity of functions Rock Island Arsenal has to offer.
"Essentially, this is a cradle to grave solution to open the eyes of some of the other customers out there that the RIA doesn't just build guns," Lupton says.
As more people within the industry size up the website, its developers plan to make it even more interactive in the future. But not just anyone can access the site. The site was required to go through an extensive approval process, and users must have a government issued computer access card to sign in.
While the website's customer is PM-PAWS, the end user is the Soldier in the field. And the Rock Island Arsenal's mobile maintenance unit remains focused on the true purpose of their operation.
"The real benefactor of this is that Soldier who climbs on that Blackhawk helicopter with his gun in his hand about to be dropped off somewhere, knowing that he doesn't have to worry about the fuel," Breitenstein says.