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NEWS | Feb. 3, 2020

Depot employees build a better battery pack

By Ms. Jacqueline Boucher

Battery packs assembled at Tobyhanna Army Depot will power tens of thousands of identify friend or foe (IFF) transponders used by America's warfighters.

Five employees are producing more than 900 battery packs every month by employing continuous improvement processes. A number of revisions since the workload arrived in 2016 have resulted in reducing the unit funded cost by more than $20 to date. Cost variations so far this year are expected to save the customer about $80,000.

"The team should be proud of everything they've accomplished," said Logistics Management Specialist Joe Lynn. "Every few months they come up with ideas to streamline processes and cut costs." As the project manager for the AN/APX-117 Transponder non-rechargeable battery project, Lynn oversees budget and schedule. He is assigned to the Production Management Directorate's C4ISR Integration and Fabrication Management Division.

IFF is a radar-based identification system designed for command and control. It uses a transponder that listens for an interrogation signal and then sends a response that identifies the broadcaster. It enables military and civilian air traffic control interrogation systems to identify aircraft, vehicles or forces as friendly and to determine their bearing and range from the interrogator.

Miles of wire, rolls of shrink wrap and boxes of diodes are listed among the 12 components purchased in bulk and delivered to the shop prior to the start of each production order. Each item is sorted and cut to size supplying technicians on the assembly line with the necessary components to complete the monthly runs. Components are skillfully attached to two non-rechargeable AA batteries [placed end to end] before being shrink wrapped, labeled and packaged for shipment. The battery pack fits neatly into a compartment on the transponder and has a shelf life of 60 months.

"The success of this mission can be attributed to teamwork," said Electronics Worker Robert Sauers. "Everyone involved with this project makes sure Tobyhanna is able to provide a quality product on time and within budget." Sauers works in the Systems Integration and Support Directorate's Electronics Fabrication Division.

The battery project is a prime example of how a program should be run, according to Production Controller John Siani. His responsibilities include making sure workers have all the materials they need to perform their mission. He also monitors the money spent on the program and addresses any issues that could cause delays. Siani works in the C4ISR Integration and Fabrication Management Division.

"This program has been a success due to the technical expertise of the people running this program," Siani said. "The team knows what is expected of them and they often meet or exceed those expectations."