Picatinny engineers have devised improvements to the packaging of 60 mm smoke and illumination mortars that will save the Army money and allow Soldiers quicker access to the rounds during battles.
"It's very simple," explained Lenny Freilich, lead 60 mm mortar packaging engineer with the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC. "We've strengthened the metal container in order to remove some of the external packaging. The packaging inside the metal container remains exactly the same."
Traditionally, the 60 mm cartridges were packaged individually in fiber containers. Eight fiber containers were then put into a metal container, called the PA124.
"Two of those PA124 metal cans were placed inside of a wire-bound wood box," Freilich said. "Then you've got eight in one container and eight in another container, for a total of 16 in the wire-bound wood box."
In order to save money on labor and packaging, ARDEC engineers, under sponsorship of the Program Executive Office Ammunition's Project Manager Combat Ammunition Systems, designed a more robust metal container to eliminate the wood box.
"We made the container stronger and it's now called the PA191. It can survive the same environmental conditions that the two containers inside the wooden box used to do, but you've got a lot less material," said Freilich.
The reduced size of the outer pack allows for an additional eight cans (64 cartridges) on the same transportation pallet, so logistical shipping costs are reduced as well.
The new containers also eliminate a step in the packaging process at the factory.
"You've got two fewer people on the manufacturing lines who have to put the box together and pack the containers inside the box. So, there is a cost savings," Freilich said.
Between labor and material cost cuts, the packaging improvement saves the Army $2.48 per round.
Due to the success of the program, this packaging method is also being adopted for 60 mm high explosive cartridges.
Another benefit to the new packaging is that Soldiers do not have to remove the wooden box, so they can access the ammo quicker, which is important when the enemy is firing at them. Soldiers can now access the rounds an average of 15-25 seconds quicker.
Removing the wooden box was also advantageous because finding the appropriate quality of wood was becoming more difficult.
"You just think it's a wood box, but like anything in the Army it has to be a particular wood -- it has to meet certain standards," Freilich explained. "It's needs be a hard wood, for which are strict requirements for the type of woods we use, and the price (of wood) keeps going up."
SIX SIGMA GREEN BELTS
The program was documented by Freilich and two other Packaging Division engineers, formatted into specific Six Sigma format and submitted to the Six Sigma Board. The three engineers then received their Green Belt certification during an ARDEC ceremony, in July 2013.
The program also won Picatinny's Continuous Improvement Challenge.
The Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.
By Audra Calloway, Picatinny Arsenal Public Affairs
Source: US Army
Date: May 7, 2014