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Letterkenny Munitions Center takes on more work

Written by Jim Hook/Chambersburg Public Opinion | Dec 11, 2016 4:17 AM
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Letterkenny Munitions Center Electronic Measurement Equipment Mechanic, Chad Reams, tests a power switching module from a piece of MFOM test equipment. (Photo: Natasia Kenosky/Letterkenny Munitions Center.))

(Chambersburg) -- The effort to do more work in-house is paying off for the Letterkenny Munitions Center.

A team at LEMC started repairing electric cables and has reduced turnaround time and saved money for the Army, according to a press release from LEMC.

Three years ago, LEMC decided to repair wiring for Army Tactical Missile Systems, Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and the test equipment for both missile systems. The ATACMS are surface-to-surface missiles and were launched in combat in Iraq. GMLRS is the next generation of the MLRS that launches a series of small missiles, which have pinpoint accuracy.

"LEMC is the major tenant at Letterkenny Army Depot," said L. Michael Ross, chairman of Team Letterkenny, a group dedicated to strengthening the Army depot north of Chambersburg.  "They are an integral part of the mission at Letterkenny. If we're looking at another BRAC (base closure) down the road, the one ace in the hole we have is LEMC. Their military value is unquestioned, and that's a big deal."

The Army depot and its tenants comprise the largest employer in Franklin County.

Most of the land on the depot is behind a second fence, a secured area where LEMC stores ammunition in underground bunkers known as igloos. Crews ship small tactical missiles and artillery shells and dispose of outdated ammunition. They also repair small missile systems.

"For the community, we often don't see what transpires behind the fence, or way behind the fence in the case of LEMC," Ross said. "The ingenuity (of LEMC commander Lt. Col. Trenton Conner and Civilian Executive Assistant Ed Averill) is a tribute to their leadership and their employees. They get it done every day out there."

LEMC started the cable maintenance project in 2013 with test equipment and a small workbench, according to Chad Reams, electronic measurement equipment mechanic. Using his experience with processes and the cables, Reams began to rearrange and improve the cable shop to work more efficiently.

Joshua Shaul, electronics equipment mechanic leader, and the rest of the team, upgraded lighting, ordered equipment and developed a new workflow process. The team bought ergonomic equipment, such as adjustable work benches that can be modified for the technician and the work. The team also used technology to track repairs, parts and research data.

Employees working in the cable shop are certified in both cable and wire harness assemblies and soldering.

Previously, repair cables used in both the MLRS and its testing equipment were sent away for repair.

The main interface cables for the ATACMS and GMLRS comprise the team's largest workload. The testing and inspection of test set cables for the Missile Common Test Device is expected to grow.

"The cables are brand new and just fielded, so we test and certify these cables," Shaul said. "Eventually, we will be repairing these since we are the maintenance facility for all MCTD repair."

The team's vision is to become the centralized location for all cable, wire harness and test equipment repair for LEMC. The team plans to use process improvement concepts and tools to rid the shop of antiquated, unnecessary equipment and to set up the shop in the most effective and efficient layout.

"LEMC employees come to work every day and think about how they can make it better," Reams said.

The team plans to work with the Precision Fires Rocket and Missile Systems Project Office to save money on future requirements.

In March then-Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick J. Murphy designated LEMC as the Army's Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence for Army Tactical Missile Systems, Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and Low-Cost, Reduced-Range, Practice-Rocket Missile Maintenance.

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