CRANE, Ind. - Crane Army Ammunition Activity employees recently rose to the task of improving a process to produce burster tubes ensuring the products would be made in the U.S. and to a high quality standard.
CAAA was asked by the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., to take over the production of the M54 burster tube, which is used as a component in a type of M110A2 projectile produced at Pine Bluff Arsenal, Ark. The M54 burster tube has a history of being difficult to produce. Due to a lack of capable burster tube suppliers, ARDEC had to pour a small production run of burster tubes to support the M110 program using equipment in their Research and Design facility that they used to pour test bursters for product development.
Production was difficult for ARDEC since they are not setup for long production runs and the decision was to move the equipment to Crane Army.
According to Sal Ghazi, a project officer with Project Manager Combat Ammunition Systems at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J., "CAAA successfully transitioned production of the M54 burster tubes in the M110A2 projectile. CAAA Ordnance Division took a proto-type facility developed at Picatiny Arsenal and successfully installed, debugged and produced more than 29,000 bursters with less than one percent of scrap."
The initial challenge faced by CAAA was to adapt the prototype equipment to the facilities at CAAA. According to CAAA Ordnance Division Engineer Lucas Allison, Crane Army received the primary pieces of equipment such as the kettle. However, the equipment was not modular and was intertwined with all their other processes. Therefore, Crane Army had to develop all the electrical controls, hot water controls, and finishing equipment to produce these items.
Allison also said Crane Army did not currently have a melt/pour facility ready to produce this item. The facility was not complete with its renovations, another building was reinstated for melting. All the old equipment had to be removed and utilities turned back on. Air, steam, waste water, washout pits, vacuum system, and etc. had to be reworked.
As the equipment was validated, CAAA worked to reduce the reject rate that had been previously established. He said, "CAAA setup to mimic the process at ARDEC, knowing that the historical production reject rate would be higher than desired. During the installation and control design process, alternate pouring methods were developed. During prove out of the equipment, Crane Army tested the alternate methods and found key control parameters for the pouring of Composition B. These methods were thoroughly tested and locked in as the new pouring process for the M54 burster tubes at Crane Army."
Through more than two years of trials, CAAA Ordnance Division worked to perfect the system and reduce the reject rate. The result, according to Allison, is a robust process producing at less than 1percent reject rate. Previous reject rates were from 17% up to over 50 percent in cases. This has allowed CAAA to provide a quality product to Pine Bluff Arsenal for its production of the M110A2 projectile.
The successful production of the burster tubes by CAAA had more than one positive effect for the activity. Allison said, "This is a good news story for CAAA because the burster tubes were being supplied by a foreign company. They also now can be produced domestically."
He added, "This effort would not have been possible without the dedicated work of Lucas Allison, Scott Mollet and the hardworking employees on that production line."
For CAAA, the success has also meant the possibility for increased work. Allison said, "This has created a good name for Crane with our customers. They are now turning to us with new work. Due to this success, we have been funded numerous new jobs with this customer base."
CAAA was established in 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.