GE parts reclamation program saves time, money for FRCE engine lines
Engines on the H-53 helicopter and the F/A-18 attack aircraft work in some harsh environments, as hundreds of parts spin, torque and rotate to power these massive aircraft. This constant wear and tear means these metal parts often have to be replaced when the engines are at Fleet Readiness Center East for maintenance and repair. These worn-out blades, nozzles and vanes have to be accounted for and processed before they can be scrapped, which can be a cumbersome, costly process.
FRCE has recently engaged in a parts reclamation program offered by GE Aviation, the manufacturer of the T64 and F404 engines that power the H-53 and F/A-18 aircraft, respectively. Under this program, the company will take worn components back to its plant in lots of 35,000 pounds to be demilitarized and recycled. As an added bonus, Naval Air Systems Command receives a credit for the amount of materials, which can be used toward other T64 or F404 components. This process is more economical for NAVAIR and quicker for FRCE, according to Stephen Azok, environmental subject matter expert with the Standards Division.
“Now we don’t have to count individual items, since we can go by weight,” said Azok. “Instead of sorting multiple parts, we can say this came off the T64 engine, and it can go in this container. We’re able to quickly process these items out, instead of creating a backlog of parts that are awaiting sorting and disposition.”
Azok says the reclamation program also benefits FRCE’s environmental reporting, because the weight of the recycled parts can count toward landfill diversion efforts.
Under the facility’s previous parts disposition process, FRCE artisans were required to individually account for each scrapped item on separate paperwork before the scrap parts could be shipped for recycling or disposal.
“It could be a hundred of the same item on one piece of paper, but there couldn’t be different items on one piece of paper,” said David Spencer, Standards Division director. “So there was a lot of identification that had to be made, during disassembly, during handling and during disposition.”
The onset of COVID mitigation efforts meant that shipping trucks briefly stopped hauling scrap metal and other discarded items from FRCE. The facility kept repairing aircraft and replacing parts, so the scrap metal had to be stored until it could be shipped. As warehouse space became scarce, the situation presented an opportunity to find more efficient, cost-effective ways to process scrap at FRCE.
Participation in the GE Aviation parts reclamation program was one of these process improvements. Instead of accounting for items individually, artisans can segregate the parts based on the type of engine they came from by placing the parts in separate containers. Because these parts do not require the handling, sorting, identification and data entry that are typically part of the disposition process, planners estimate that the parts reclamation program will save FRCE more than $200,000 a year.
“In this one instance, we’re able to save all the man hours that it would take to sort the parts, do the documentation and transport it to the Defense Logistics Agency,” Azok said. “Now, items that come off the engines go in the containers, we collect the containers, then we send them off-site when we have 35,000 pounds at the minimum.”
Azok said the first 25 crates of engine parts to be shipped under the new agreement is expected to leave FRCE in June. In the meantime, Azok said even the crates the parts are stored in are having a positive impact on FRCE’s bottom line.
“We’re going to pull our wooden shipping crates out of recycling and use them to ship these items off, so we’re going to get double use,” Azok said. “We won’t have to have shipping crates made, so we will save resources that way as well.”
FRCE is North Carolina's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion. The depot generates combat air power for America’s Marines and naval forces while serving as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.