Power generating equipment is critical to today’s warfighter. In remote sites, generators run many critical functions the military needs to communicate, refrigerate and operate.
When generators need servicing or replacement because of age or combat damage, units in US Army Europe or Central Command know where to go to get these critical items brought back to “like new” condition.
The Field Logistics Readiness Center – Germershein (FLRC-G) falls under the Army Sustainment Command – Foward, and handles all of the generator replacement and repair functions, or resetting, without any extra work for the soldier.
“The biggest thing we have tried to do is keep the soldier totally oblivious to the effort involved,” said Holger Apfelbaum, the command’s reset liaison officer. The desert environment is not friendly to generators, even those designed for combat operations. “The sand there is not like typical sand in Florida,” Apfelbaum explained. “It’s powdery, gets into everything, and does a lot of damage.”
FLRC-G’s contracted team of mechanics cleans, welds, replaces, straightens and tunes the generators back to specification. Mr Apfelbaum elborated: “We want them to come out of the desert and voilá – there is the generator waiting for them at home station. Everything is cleaned and refurbished, the motor is replaced if neccessary; when we are done here, it is a new piece of equipment.”
The cost is close to that of purchasing a new generator, Mr Applebaum explained. “The problem is there is never enough new stuff out there – some of these items aren’t manufactured anymore.” Subsequently, Mr Apfelbaum is constantly looking for ways to save the government money, and has found some through German contractors.
An easily-overlooked part such as a fuel cap costs $17 through the supply system – although it is not readily available. “I found a local contractor who will refurbish them for $3.70,” Mr Apfelbaum continued. “This has saved me a lot of money – he can sandblast and repaint a couple of hundred of them in a weekend, and we don’t fall behind for something like a fule cap.”
According to FLRC-G Program Manager Paul Bell a 5K, or 5,000W generator can power a small house, and costs $16,000. Germersheim’s foward-deployed position in Europe enables tremendous time and money savings, Bell said. He noted that the options without the USAG Heidelberg-based facility do not meet the requirements of the War on Terror: shipping times to continental United States would be a 90 days round-trip, alternatively the government would spend 10 to 20 times the shipping cost for heavy equipment via air.
The recent surge in forces deployed to Iraq prompted an equivalent surge in the multi-national workforce. “The way we have it set up,” Bell said, “we can ramp up or ramp down our workforce based upon what the customer wants.”
This flexibility allwoed Germershein to switch to two shifts of ten each and reset 50 generators a month to meet demand. Back to one shift, the facility is now at normal workflow.
“Any deploying units still take priority, they get bumped in front of anything else,” Mr Apfelbaum said. A deploying signal unit recently had 15 pieces of equipment that needed to be turned around quickly. Germershein did the job in 30 days, well below the 180-day standard and allowing the unit to deploy with their equipment in combat-ready condition.
“That is what we are here for;” said Bell, “to give the customer excellent service, on time, at a fair price.”