Process improvements speed HMMWV outputs

16 Oct 2008 | Art Powell

Maintenance Center Albany, which has a long history of working on High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles, stood up its current HMMWV production line in March 2007 with the receipt of an order to process 20 HMMWVs on an “expedite” schedule.

Since then, more than 736 additional HMMWVs have been sent to MCA for “Inspect and Repair only as Necessary” processing and the time needed to service each HMMWV has been dramatically reduced thanks to innovations.

“When we first began working on these HMMWVs, the initial repair cycle time was 70 days per unit. Due to efficiencies that MCA has applied to the process, that time has now been reduced to 23 days,” said Trent Blalock, deputy commander, MCA.

According to Blalock, “There has been a lot of process improvement throughout the supply chain in the HMMWV line. We have made great strides and has been supported by several areas within MCA – Engine and Paint shops – to name a couple of key contributors, as well as external suppliers.”

Approximately 80 HMMWVs per month are now coming off the MCA line and projections call for production to gradually increase to 100 units per month by spring 2009.

The number of workers supporting the HMMWV line directly and indirectly totals approximately 190.

The newly-serviced vehicles are being delivered to a variety of locations, including Maritime Prepositioning Ships, Marine Expeditionary Forces and Marine Corps Reserve units in the United States to support their training requirements in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

“Even if the War on Terrorism ended tomorrow, the work on HMMWVs would continue because they’re used for training,” added Blalock.

While Marine Corps ground systems such as the HMMWV and other large items may dominate the spotlight at MCA, the HMMWV line is just one of 493 on-going production lines, large and small, at MCA supporting warfighting equipment.

When HMMWVs are disassembled for inspection and repair, the process takes the vehicle down to the frame. Various components are involved in rebuilding the HMMWV, and none is more important than the engine 

“We service a lot of engines here in the maintenance center, but we have a lot of attention focused on the HMMWV program,” said Michael Cross, supervisor, Engine Shop, MCA.

“Every engine that comes through this shop gets a complete disassembly and rebuild, and then we reassemble the power pack of engine and transmission and they are routed back to the line where they are reinstalled into the vehicle,” he added.

The Engine Shop completes work on a HMMWV engine and transmission, including testing, in approximately one week, and Cross says when the engine is sent back to the MCA line, it’s ready.

“Any engine that we put out of this shop, we want to ensure it’s running to the upmost performance. The last thing that we want is a Marine to have this piece of equipment out in the field and suffer any type of failure,” he added.

The skill sets at MCA which support the HMMWV line include mechanics, electricians, planners, expeditors, industrial engineering technicians, engineers, blasters, painters, machinists, sheet metal workers, body mechanics and inspectors.

To get the job done, MCA currently has approximately 1,800 personnel: 10 Marines, 800 permanent civilian- Marines, 400 term or temporary and 600 are contracted.

Everyone of them contribute to the many successes realized by MCA because they all fully appreciate that “What we do is important – every day a Marine’s life will depend on it.”

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany