Story by PO1 Heather Salzman on 07/19/2019PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS)Seabees assigned to Naval Construction Group (NCG) 1 installed a new battery charging system as part of a Civil Engineering Support Equipment (CESE) pilot program on Naval Base Ventura County, California, June 10-17.
This rapid improvement event (RIE) is projected to save approximately $2.2M over the next six years in cost avoidance and savings and more importantly, increase operational readiness across the Naval Construction Force.
An RIE is a team-based problem solving technique which focuses on finding a solution to a narrowly-scoped process improvement opportunity which is beyond the day-to-day work. NCG-1's RIE focused on premature battery degradation resulting from long-term storage of CESE. The idea to address this particular issue traces back to a question that was explored during a Lean Six Sigma course attended by NCG-1 personnel in December 2018. Would NCG-1 be able to use their CESE if they had to employ that equipment on short-notice?
According to Construction Mechanic 1st Class Jay Emmons, from Stanton, Michigan, the answer was no.
"At least 50 percent of our CESE Table of Allowance (TOA) would be non-mission capable due to unserviceability of batteries," said Emmons.
A TOA is a complete listing of CNO-approved equipment, material and systems authorized as allowance for a specific established unit. It is a standardized listing used to establish and maintain all required equipment, material and systems to support the unit's mission.
NCG-1 is responsible for more than 2,800 units of CESE. On average, it takes seven man-hours to replace a dead battery in a single piece of CESE. If half of the equipment was non-mission ready, it would take just under 10,000 man hours, or roughly three years, to replace the batteries and deploy the CESE.
Emmons, Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Shane Tully, from Ventura, California, and Construction Mechanic 2nd Class David Posey, from Franklin, New York, identified a root problem with the current storage of CESE batteries.
When a piece of CESE sits in inactive equipment maintenance (IEM) for a prolonged period of time, the batteries develop a buildup of lead sulfate crystal which shortens the battery life. The replacement cost over the course of one year, in the past, was approximately $169 thousand.
Emmons and his team drafted a proposal based on a commercial, off-the-shelf solution used by the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and the National Guard which eliminates high battery consumption rates and the need for periodic charging and removing of batteries and cables. These grid/reel systems charge and de-sulfate the batteries via extreme high frequency pulsation and enable them to be operationally ready 24/7. Any issue with a particular battery is indicated by an LED alerting maintainers to take action.
In April 2019 the plan was briefed to Capt. David McAlister, commodore, NCG-1, who approved a pilot program to begin June 2019 in Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 4's IEM warehouse.
Construction Mechanic 1st Class Tytess Revilla, from Port Hueneme, California, assigned to NMCB-4, served as the warehouse supervisor during the installation. His team was responsible for the preparation of the warehouse prior to installation and the prefabrication of all wiring leading to the charging reels.
"This battery charging system definitely has the potential to reduce the cost of battery procurement and disposal over a duration of time," said Revilla. "This will also allow our mechanics to direct maintenance hours toward other crucial preventative and corrective measures vital to the overall CESE availability in support of mission readiness. "
Construction Electrician 1st Class Petty Officer Michael Walden, from Katy, Texas, assigned to NMCB-5, provided a team of eight construction electricians and one utilitiesman for the installation and setup. It took the team six working days to complete the project, including the installation of 260 24-volt charging reels, 18 grid junction boxes, and 1,100 feet of electrical wire.
"I just want to say thanks to those Sailors that took the initiative to think outside the box," said McAlister. "CM1 Emmons, CM1 Revilla, and CE1 Walden, along with their teams, proved that with a little hard work and perseverance, deckplate leadership can produce changes in our Navy."
The proof of concept is due to happen in November and funding is planned for three more warehouses in the U.S. and two overseas, in Okinawa and Guam.
NCG 1 is homeported in Port Hueneme, California. Seabees are the expeditionary engineering and construction experts of the naval service. They provide task-tailored, adaptable and combat-ready engineering and construction forces that deploy to support global Navy objectives.
For more information about Seabees and NCG 1, visit http://seabeemagazine.navylive.dodlive.mil or