News | Oct. 28, 2020

Land and Maritime Electronics Product Testing Lab gets new battery evaluation capability

By Michael L. Jones DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime expanded the capacity of its Electronics Product Test Center with the grand opening of a new in-house battery testing facility Oct. 26. Progressing from a vision more than 10 months ago the new facility is the tangible result of a lengthy team process purposed to improve operational efficiency while also saving money.

DLA Land and Maritime Commander Navy Rear Adm. Kristen Fabry, her leadership team and a small group of associates who worked on the project attended the grand opening. The group was provided a tour and briefing of the new facility and how it would improve operations.

Motivated by the fiscal year 19/20 Department of Defense’s Defense Wide Review, Land and Maritime leveraged its Engineering and Technical Support Directorate to evaluate opportunities that would reduce engineering and testing costs incurred by DLA. Several options were identified, one of them was the regular and reoccurring testing of military grade batteries. A specific battery identified was the BA-5590U, a legacy 'workhorse' battery regularly used by the U.S. Army.

At the time, Product Liability Testing was performed by a U.S. Army test laboratory located in Aberdeen, Maryland. As a cost saving initiative Land and Maritime’s Value Engineering Group proposed performing the testing in Land and Maritime’s Electronics Product Testing Center. A small team of volunteers within the EPTC began researching specification requirements, suggested laboratory setup and equipment needed to perform and sustain this mission. 

The team conducted a business case analysis that supported cost reduction projections and served as a catalyst to proceed with constructing the in-house project. Successful completion of the battery test facility involved additional Land and Maritime organizations working together in a true teaming effort. “Among the heavy lifters who played a role in the success of this initiative were the Land Battery team, fire department, mailroom, environmental protection, health and safety office and numerous others,” said John Elavsky, chief of Land and Maritime’s Electronics and Mechanical Product Test Center. “The collective effort has been extraordinary; I have to say upfront that the contribution of Defense Supply Center Columbus Installation Support to this facility’s preparation and completion can’t be understated.”

The project involved transforming an outdated DSCC cafeteria kitchen into a new battery test facility. DLA Land and Maritime Command, Engineering and Technical Support leadership, Value Engineering Team management and others coordinated the efforts of the EPTC and DSCC associates who expedited the project.

Transferring testing to the PTC positions Land and Maritime to better control associated battery testing costs. Detailed testing procedures and methods were, and continue to be, created to support product compliance. Additional benefits from the new mission include reduced physical distance from the testing facility, more seamless testing procedures, and reduced cultural differences between customer operations and the contractually required testing location.

These benefits create an organizational synergy for Land and Maritime that ensures closer proximity to the testing team, an increased level of accessibility to the testing location, immediate access to test results and associated testing support. 

Eugene Williams, director of Land and Maritime’s Engineering and Technical Support Directorate, which manages the PTC, said using the PTC provides a much more detailed accountability of testing related costs when compared to the billing provided by the prior non-DLA federal test laboratory. 

Constructed by in-house lab technicians and engineers, the heart of the computerized operation drives many of the automated evaluation processes and is a few steps away from a series of testing stations. After battery lots are received those stations evaluate samples for contractually required characteristics including dimension, temperature sensitivity, voltage levels drain, and several others to see if they meet specifications.

PTC engineering support is immediately available should product liability testing identify any potential quality or performance issues with the battery samples submitted for testing. PLT testing helps DLA determine whether it can confidently accept the shipment of batteries from the manufacturer.

“Testing of the 5590 batteries is Phase 1 of the battery transfer initiative. This project will provide tremendous benefits to DLA, further evidenced by an already-existing DLA commitment to pursue a second phase of testing relocation that will generate additional long-term cost savings,” Fabry said. “This new internal capability speaks to DLA’s commitment to evaluate new capabilities that enhance its warfighter support mission.”

Fabry offered appreciation to the team for their efforts, particularly congratulating them on the swift timeline they achieved from conception to project completion. “When we all communicate and work together, we can do incredible things. This new battery testing facility is a visible example of creativity, cooperation and hard work.”