MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY --
Marine Depot Maintenance Command is the 2017 recipient of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission Excellence in Innovation Award.
Award-eligible industries for this award competed from the manufacturing, distribution/logistics, health care and call center sectors.
Col. Eric S. Livingston, commander, MDMC, accepted the award April 19 during the Industry Celebration Rise N Shine Breakfast held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Albany, Georgia.
According to the MDMC commander, MDMC is being recognized for the restoration of a World War II, Suspension Unit-Cab Over Engine Prime Mover, 4x4 truck, that was used during combat operations to haul cargo on the Japanese Island of Saipan during the war.
“You can't procure parts for this truck and there is no technical data in existence for this vehicle,” Livingston pointed out. “So (the artisans) performed a lot of reverse engineering and fabrication of parts to restore this vehicle and get it ready to be placed in the National Museum of the Marine Corps (in Quantico, Virginia) where it will be going later this year when it is complete.”
An example of the innovation demonstrated by MDMC personnel is the use of plastic 3D printer, Livingston said.
“(The artisans) fabricated plastic parts on the printer and used them in place of the original parts that can't be restored or procured,” he said. “The parts fabricated are (near) identical to the parts they are replacing. This is innovation at its best, and the (artisans) are exactly the types of employees we need as we modernize our depot into the 21st Century.
The 3D printing is housed in MDMC’s Production Engineering Branch where workers are specifically dedicated to solving problems such as material obsolescence challenges using breakthrough technology resident within the depot.
Production Engineering Branch contributes to innovation award win
According to MDMC officials, the purpose of the PE Branch is to validate and verify technical drawings, perform reverse engineering on parts with little or no technical data, and produce prototypes of materials that can be tested on weapons systems.
The PE Branch was specifically dedicated to solving problems such as the material challenges associated with the SU-COE Prime Mover. The award summary cited the PE Branch’s Solutions Center for using an assortment of Computer Aided Design software, microscopes and 3D printers to reverse engineer and manufacture materials that are not supportable through the supply system or via contractual support.
The summary further stated through the innovation and technology of 3D printing, PE Branch workers have reduced the cost and completion time of the historical World War II project, which is scheduled to be turned over to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in 2017.
WWII-era truck restoration approaches halfway point
In 2016, MDMC was charged with the restoration of the WWII-era Suspension Unit-Cab Over Engine Prime Mover. Through innovation and technology, MDMC formed a National Museum of the Marine Corps Project Team to mitigate the material and supply challenges associated with this weapon system that was built more than 75 years ago.
Jody Nesbitt, project officer, MDMC, said the digital printing capability has made it feasible and economical for the MDMC team to restore the SU-COE Prime Mover, 4x4 Cargo Truck.
“The World War II-era truck is from Saipan and there were only eight vehicles built for the Marine Corps,” he said. “I believe this is the only one left in existence.”
Nesbitt said the truck was used from 1940-1943.
According to the award write-up, the SU-COE Prime Mover will be restored to depict the appearance of a forward SU-COE Prime Mover, specifically replicating the vehicle’s appearance in the movie “Guadalcanal Diary.”
During the restoration process, the team ran into several challenges due to the age of the truck and corroded parts.
“There are no parts available for this vehicle, which is the reason why we decided to digitally print them,” Nesbitt said. “We've had to reach out to other sources, locally and abroad, for (help locating) some of the items and we've had some success, but a lot of parts we've had to make ourselves.”
As the truck was being disassembled, several items including windshield brackets, gear shift, knobs, emblems, radiator elbow, taillight housings, glad hands, mirror arms and brackets, slowed the progress of the project due to corrosion or lack of manufactured parts.
“It's a lot of tedious work,” he stressed. “We had to tear the vehicle's frame completely down and sandblasted, treated it for corrosion and primed and painted it. The next major item we are going to undertake is the cab, which we will have to reconstruct about 70 percent of and then reassemble it using standard metal body working processes.”
According to Nesbitt, the project is about 50 percent complete.
David Tucker, heavy mobile equipment mechanic, MDMC, is responsible for disassembling and reassembling the WWII-era truck.
“It's been both a privilege and a challenge working on the truck,” Tucker said. “Once the truck is reassembled, it will never have to be (repaired) again.
“Unlike the vehicles in the craneway, which will come back between 3 to 5 years for upgrades, this vehicle will not,” he said. “The general public will see it as long as the museum is in existence.”
Nesbitt and Tucker were also part of the team that worked on the Genesis II, M60A1 Main Battle Tank project for the NMMC.
The SU-COE Prime Mover is one of several historical renovation projects completed by MDMC to be displayed at the museum.
Kater Miller, assistant ordnance curator, NMMC, said, “MDMC's staff serves the Marines by providing quality equipment to the warfighters and now they are serving the Marines in a different way, this time by preserving history.”
“We don’t always have the opportunity to publicly recognize our employees for the hard work they are doing day in and day out,” the MDMC commander said. “Receiving this prestigious award is a testament to their hard work.”
Marine Depot Maintenance Command’s 1,400 government civilian workforce executes the Marine Corps’ baseline core workload requirements and is augmented by a contractor workforce of 700 employees to execute surge requirements.