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Face of Defense: NCO's Idea Offers Maintenance Savings

By Terrance Bell U.S. Army Garrison Fort Lee

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FORT LEE, Va., Nov. 27, 2015 — Army Sgt. 1st Class Chad Corey received a monetary award for his potential money-saving suggestion to improve the maintenance process for the Army’s fleet of up-armored Humvees and other vehicles.

“It’s about the soldier and making things better,” said Corey, an instructor assigned to the Basic Wheeled Vehicle Division, Wheeled Vehicle Maintenance Training Department of the Ordnance School here. “It’s not only going to impact myself and the soldiers we’re training here, but once it gets implemented it will impact every single mechanic, every single operator who touches that piece of equipment.”

Reducing Vehicle Maintenance Costs

Corey’s idea -- submitted through CASCOM’s Supply and Maintenance Assessment and Review Team program -- netted him an award of $500 and accolades by the Ordnance School leadership during a Nov. 16 awards presentation. His idea centers on damage to line connections of the hydro boost and engine oil cooler when mechanics or operators remove them during maintenance procedures. Over time, the parts would become worn and would need to be replaced. The quick disconnect part Corey developed protects the parts from damage, he said.

“It seemed like an easy fix,” Corey said. “If it can make everyone’s life easier, save the Army tons of money instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on parts and equipment, it’s kind of a no-brainer.”

A new oil cooler costs more than $1,000, Corey said. His suggestion has resulted in the issue of retrograde kits for more than 50,000 vehicles to fix the problem, said Nathaniel Zachary, an equipment specialist with the U.S. Army Tank and Automotive Command, responsible for evaluating Corey’s suggestion.

No information is available at this time on how much money the Army has saved as a result of the idea, Zachary added.

Army Sgt. Maj. Patricio Cardonavega, the senior noncommissioned officer at the Wheel Maintenance Training Department, said it is a rare feat for maintenance soldiers to generate time- or money-saving ideas, considering the long hours spent performing their missions.

Significant Accomplishment

“I think [Corey’s] accomplishment speaks to who he is as an individual -- an outstanding senior noncommissioned officer with the ability to anticipate and address issues that may affect mission accomplishment,” Cardonavega said, recalling only two such ideas in his 25-year career. “He’s ‘that guy’ who will continue to impact the organization and ensure it is more successful and best-suited [to accomplish the mission].”

There are 175 NCO instructors and administrators assigned to the Wheeled Vehicle Maintenance Training Department. It graduates roughly 4,000 students annually.

Corey’s idea is one of roughly 20 suggestions received on an annual basis, said Andra L. Howell, chief of the Army SMART program, Capabilities, Development and Integration Directorate, CASCOM.

Idea Prompted by Work Experience

Corey, who has been with the schoolhouse three years, said his idea was developed during advanced individual training sessions through observation and hands-on experiences.

“At some point,” he said, “you think there’s got to be an easier way to do this. I just took an afternoon and started playing around with some parts and the next thing you know, we had it working.”

Corey said it’s satisfying to know that suggestions can produce more good ideas.

“It feels pretty good,” he said. “There are others who have noticed and you can see how it has kind of impacted them. They are coming up with creative ideas and ways to implement and develop things. That’s a good feeling right there -- to know you can have that kind of positive effect on other people.”

Corey has 17 years of service and is due to end his tenure as an instructor in the near future.