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December 21, 2009 at 3:17 am

Tools help warfighters test water for chemical, biological hazards

TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. — Employees here are fabricating and populating more than 1,700 kits that will enable warfighters throughout the world to test water samples.

In August, Tobyhanna employees began fabricating components to be included in detection enhancement kits, which will provide military personnel with the tools to test a water sample for radiation, and chemical and biological hazards.

Tobyhanna personnel fabricate a variety of pieces for the kits, including cables and other components. Included in the kits are purchased commercial items and government-furnished equipment (GFE) from the customer, such as radiac meters and detectors, and check sources, which are used to ensure the radiac equipment is working correctly.

Soldiers and seamen will use a heater to evaporate a water sample, leaving behind a residue that is used for testing.

Over the summer, depot personnel accomplished a limited rate of production (LRP). Personnel from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., (the customer) provided employees in the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Directorate’s Tank Thermal/Common Modules Branch with enough components to populate 100 kits each for the Army and Navy.

Russ Burnett, logistics management specialist, said the LRP was used to introduce the kits into the field, and that the same personnel will populate 1,058 kits for the Army and 645 for the Navy. He works in the Production Management Directorate’s Manufacturing Systems and Support Branch.

“Since it is new workload, engineers had to determine the materials needed, and the hours and machines required to fabricate items,” explained Stacey Taylor, production controller in the branch.

Personnel in the sheet metal fabrication branch are using a Strippit Computer Numerically Controlled punch press to produce parts for the probe stand. The machine allows them to produce 50 pieces per sheet of material.

Next, machinists in the machining branch engrave identifiable information into each piece. The machine allows personnel to etch eight pieces at one time.

Zigmund Pieszala, branch chief, noted that because of the irregular shape of the components specific engraving is required. Branch personnel will use the HAAS VF-11 computer numerically controlled milling center, which is outfitted with a table that holds the parts in place using a vacuum.

“This machine is also equipped with specialized accessory programs that will allow the machine to engrave the needed lettering to proper style and specifications very quickly,” Pieszala added.

The items are blasted and finished by Systems Integration and Support Directorate employees in the Component Refinishing, and Finishing and Etching branches to ensure a smooth and durable product.

Burnett said they hope to begin populating and delivering kits before the end of the year, and plan on producing 100 kits each month, depending on the availability of GFE.

“This is slightly different workload than the large systems Tobyhanna is used to working on,” Burnett noted, describing the kit as a “small, standalone, self-sufficient end item being used in the field.”

Taylor added that depot employees are “directly touching” the warfighter by supplying these kits to them.

Tobyhanna is currently the only installation working on this program.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department’s largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna’s missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.About 5,600 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Jennifer Caprioli


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