“SATS represents the mutually beneficial scenario to both government and business that occurs when a system that one service is using can be incorporated for use by another, with little or no modifications, and our industry partners are flexible and responsive enough to accommodate the increased production requirements,” Ansley said at the event. McDermott says the SATS is a little different to service than the towing equipment the USCG had been using. But thanks to the “train the trainer” education NMC-Wollard was about to present, USCG personnel would be able to service the vehicles no matter where they happened to be stationed. The training will be part-class room and part-hands on. The center has five SATS so everyone will get the opportunity to turn a wrench.
“Standardized equipment just makes training that much easier,” he explains. “We still have some oddities that require specialized maintenance skills, but for the most part, we are moving away from that.”
Standardizing equipment doesn’t just mean choosing one vehicle that will work for more than one branch of the military. It also can mean a better deal by making contracts performance-based and whittling down the manufacturers to those prepared to meet those standards.
For example, McDermott says the USCG currently buys three different fuel trucks, down from 12 when he first arrived at the center more than a decade ago.
“Some of our bases have just one unit, so eliminating downtime is important,” he says. “When the truck is down so is the aircraft, or we’re forced to purchase fuel at full cost.”
McDermott singled out fuel trucks from Westmor as a prime example of high standards right down to the paint job.
“Paint quality is probably an overlooked feature, but it is the best paint job I have ever seen on a truck,” McDermott says. “If you don’t put paint on a metal edge or over welding there will be corrosion. In a sense, it seals our investment from corrosion.”
As for training, the USCG typically sends crews directly to Westmor’s Minnesota facility.
Standardization also means buying more electric GSE.
“I have a letter from my commandant that says we should go green whenever possible,” he says.
Just a decade ago, the USCG had no electric GSE. None. Now it operates more than 60 electric tractors, mostly from Tug Technologies, but also from LEKTRO.
With lean budgets in mind, McDermott also talks a lot about “cost avoidance.” For example, take servicing electric equipment vs. traditional fossil fuel models.
“A diesel tractor takes about 50 man-hours annually to maintain,” he explains. “With an electric tractor that time is cut to 16.” With less moving parts, that also means stocking less spare parts.
Cleaner power also makes it easier to station the electric equipment around the country. McDermott mentioned Southern California and New Jersey for tough environmental standards for traditional equipment.
“We may lose time and money to prepare for different tests,” he explains. “We can avoid that extra cost in terms of money and time with electric equipment.”
In a matter of speaking, the center’s also standardized its own procedures to recognized standards. In June 2006, the center reached a significant milestone in USCG history by being the first Coast Guard unit to achieve a fully integrated ISO 9001 (Quality) and 14001 (Environmental) business system.
Additionally, the center has been actively engaged in Lean/Six Sigma process improvement initiatives that have resulted in more than $12.8 million in projected cost avoidances as well as significant increases in process efficiencies.
McDermott will be retiring this year capping off nearly three decades of service to the USCG.
“I typically have 20 different projects to manage, but it makes the day go faster,” he adds.
To keep the work flowing smoothly, McDermott says the key is to not micromanage his team.
“I empower my crew – get them involved in the budget process and provide them the information they need to make decisions,” he explains.
McDermott will leave behind a 20-year road map on what to do with GSE. A standardized deicing vehicle that, like the SATS, can be used by more than one branch of the military is currently on the agenda. McDermott’s also interested in hydrogen fuel cell power, too.
“I’m fascinated by how the industry is evolving,” McDermott says, adding that our recent Cygnus Aviation Expo – where he officially picked up his Team Leader Award – offered a great opportunity to see equipment and meet product managers.
The Army's stock of aviation ground support equipment is aging and falling into disrepair.