Marines: Blue Force Tracking parts on time, on budget

By April 29, 2014May 14th, 2014Acquisition
electronics worker at Tobyhanna Army Depot
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By Jacqueline Boucher


TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. — Team Tobyhanna is fabricating thousands of electrical and mechanical components for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Last year, the Marine Corps Systems Command asked Tobyhanna Army Depot to produce 22,855 items destined to be installed on Marine Corps Blue Force Tracking High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (Humvees). With a completion date of May, several depot shops rose to the challenge to complete nine different mechanical components and seven different electrical cable assemblies, a project valued at $8.4 million.

Blue Force Tracking provides location information of friendly and hostile military forces.

“We continually get great results from Tobyhanna,” said Project Officer Dan Scarber, adding that this is not the first time depot employees have delivered what he needed. “It’s always been a positive experience working with them.” Scarber works in the U.S. Marine Corps Joint Battle Command Platform Increment One office, Quantico, Va.

Sheet metal workers, welders and personnel in the depot’s Industrial Operations Facility (IOF) have joined forces to construct the nine different mechanical components. The list includes brackets and antenna mounts, keyboard stowage mechanisms, satellite communications (SATCOM) antennas and radio racks. In all, IOF technicians were tasked to produce 11,996 components.

“There was a bit of a learning curve, but employees quickly made the necessary adjustments and applied Lean initiatives to provide the best possible product for the customer,” said Production Controller Justine Williams, Production Management Directorate’s Manufacturing Systems and Support Branch.

Sheet Metal Fabrication Branch employees use state-of-the-art equipment to cut thousands of piece parts from the raw stock to fabricate the mechanical components. “The team is determined to stay focused, improve processes and be successful for the warfighter,” said Russell Wren, branch chief. Shop production was frequently completed ahead of schedule, according to Wren.

“Everyone in the branch understands how important this effort is for Tobyhanna,” Wren said. “I am proud that everyone stepped up to the challenge.”

As an example of the work performed, Gerald Wolf, a leader in the welding shop, pointed out that the SATCOM antenna support bracket alone consists of three pieces of cut, raw material. To date three welders have been able to complete 1,505 brackets and have 595 yet to complete by the May deadline.

“The welders are doing an excellent job and producing the pieces ahead of schedule,” Wolf said. The brackets are returned to sheet metal shop to have the bottom welds ground smooth.

Employees in the IOF are responsible for performing all blasting, plating, painting and stenciling requirements prior to turning items over to the Component Assembly Branch.

All of the electrical and mechanical components for this project are being put together in Building 3 Bay 2 prior to transfer to warfighters for installation. “We make sure every component is ready for assembly. We also provide a packing list and drawings to assist warfighters with installation,” said John DeYoung, assembly branch chief. “The customer will add things like the hardware necessary for the equipment to be installed on a Humvee.”

About 25 personnel in the Systems Integration and Support Directorate’s Satellite Data Cable Branch are fabricating miles of miscellaneous cables, each measuring from three to 20 feet in length. Bulk shipments of cable are cut to specified lengths and stripped of the insulating layer to allow access to the bundle of wires inside, according to Carol Kubilus, branch chief. Production of the 10,859 cable assemblies includes stripping wires, attaching connectors and dust caps, and applying labels. When complete, the cables are inspected and tested.

“We decided to establish a system of cells for the employees to perform the different tasks,” said Kubilus. “Consequently the work flow is smoother from one step to the next and the employees are proud of the results.”

The Marines are also satisfied with the quality and quantity of work accomplished by depot employees.

“Team Tobyhanna is very professional and will go to great lengths to get the job done,” said Scarber. “Their diligence in managing the program has allowed me to continue my work uninterrupted and kept our program moving forward. It is a comfort to know that I can rely on Tobyhanna to meet our expectations efficiently and completely. The depot is always quick to respond to a phone call or email, which keeps this program on track.”

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s corporate philosophy, dedicated workforce and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the joint command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance provider of choice for the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, technology insertion, modification, and global field support to warfighters.

About 3,500 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., the command’s mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.

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