By Linda LoebachNovember 1, 2011
Richmond, Ky.-There's a whole lot of savings going on at Blue Grass Army Depot these days. A new inert demilitarization facility has begun shredding unserviceable M-15 landmines and is saving the depot money.
"We have a lot of leftovers and need a garbage disposal to get rid of them," said Jeff Hurst, chief of maintenance and demil at BGAD.
The inert demil facility fits the bill.
While the revenue from the scrap metal of these mines is negligible, shredding the mines opens up storage space, and thus creates an additional source of income from the storage of items of a higher economical value.
Another cost savings stems from the avoidance of periodic safety-in-storage inspections of the landmines by staff when the mines no longer exist.
The first step in the landmine demil process is to wash the explosives out of the mines. This part of the process takes place at BGAD's washout facility where mines are lined up like dinner plates in a huge dishwasher. Hot water washes the explosive material from the mines and the explosive residue is used at the depot's demolition ground or sold to other Department of Defense organizations.
Next, the washed mines go through a flashing furnace which heats them to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes to eliminate any explosive residue.
Then, workers place the inert landmines on an automated conveyor belt which feeds them into a shredder fitted with two counter-rotating shaft shear blade sets powered by twin mowers of 75 horsepower each. The shredder operates as a low speed, low inertia, high torque mechanism which offers continuous shearing with minimal noise, dust and vibration.
The shredder has a programmable logic controller and interlocks to detect overload conditions and has auto-reverse direction of shears to clear obstructions or shut down.
The mechanism spits out shredded metal pieces that workers pack for recycling.
Other potential materials that BGAD could shred are: wooden pallets or crates, steel drums, PVC pipes and tubes, corrugated cardboard, general plant waste, yard waste, fiberglass, plastic, furniture products, tires and e-waste.
"We found a niche. We're going to go with it and see how we can help the Army out," said Hurst.
Accordingly, BGAD's inert demil facility may serve as a successful model for cost avoidance and savings potential for other Army installations.