BATTLE CREEK, Mich. –
When Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services developed portable modular property disposal sites that could be shipped anywhere at a moment’s notice about 8 years ago, a critical part of the puzzle was missing.
Command headquarters lacked material handling equipment capable of lifting and lugging its new expeditionary toys.
Luckily, the nearby Marine Corps Bridge Company A, 6th Engineer Support Battalion had machines capable of moving the Expeditionary Site Set containers around, and its personnel offered to lend a hand.
“They offloaded the Ban-Air rack boxes, the Hammel shredders, and even the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle that we acquired to conduct training on finding loose rounds,” said Don Zimmerman, Training and Operations Simulation Center program manager. “So, when they called and asked if we could support, I immediately asked our leadership if we could help them out.”
In the ensuing years, the tables turned. DLA Disposition Services developed its own robust local MHE capabilities, including acquisition of a beefy Rough Terrain Container Handler, while Bridge Co. A’s crane became inoperable. The Marines chose not to replace it, however, as Company A had received orders to deactivate and divest approximately 90 large items to similar units around the country.
The challenging items are part of what is called the Improved Ribbon Bridge, or IRB. The floating bridge consists of two locking sections called bays that are transported on the Marine Corps Bridge Pallet. The bays are each just over 22 feet long and weigh 14,000 pounds, while the pallet weighs 6,000. There are no forklift holes in any of the components, requiring their lifting with a sling.
A “proof-of-concept” training event to demonstrate and evaluate the DLA machine and operator's ability to pluck the unwieldy bridge pieces from both concrete pad and soil and place them onto flatbed trailer took place May 24. If the Marine Corps liked what it saw and opts to continue loading out bridge pieces with this method, it stands to save an estimated $30,000 to $50,000 on contracting a private firm do the hoisting.
“It’s going to reduce cost and help us get this stuff out of here on target,” said Bridge Co. A’s Master Sgt. Robert Moffitt, the on-site monitor who coordinated the event for the Marines.
The assistance wasn’t purely benevolent. In addition to the lift being a live training event itself, Zimmerman enlisted the help of the sub-command’s contract video production team to capture footage of the tests for incorporation into future MHE training products for field personnel learning to use the RTCH. According to the manufacturer, it can operate in nearly any working environment, including up to 5 feet of water, and handle more than 50,000 pounds with a sling, forklift attachment or reach stacker designed to handle 20- and 40-foot shipping containers. Safely qualifying as many personnel as possible on use of the RTCH remains an agency MHE capability goal.