Defense

October 23, 2013

Improvements to Army’s new 5.56mm production lines help save government more than $20 million

M855A1 slug cold heading operations at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, Lake City, Mo.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. – The Program Executive Office for Ammunition’s Enhanced Performance Round program shaved off more than $20 million dollars in a value engineering project aimed at renovating the bullet production lines and improving the program’s purchasing strategies.

The M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round, or EPR, is the newest member of the Army’s small-caliber family of munitions fired from the 5.56mm family of weapons. It is replacing the M855 cartridge.

The M855A1 EPR’s new bullet design provides Soldiers with better hard-target penetration and more consistent soft-target performance at increased distances. Additionally, because it is lead-free, the M855A1 allows training exercises to occur on ranges where lead projectiles are no longer permitted.

The M855A1 5.56mm EPR ball cartridge costs have been reduced by incorporating low cost component manufacturing methods, improving production efficiency to the high speed SCAMP (Small Caliber Ammunition Modernization Program) cartridge production line, and enhancing purchasing strategies and competitive buying.

Many of the modifications began in fiscal year 2011 and continued until all improvements were realized in the fiscal year 2013 contracts. The changes reduced cost while maintaining the desired performance and quality of the cartridge.

The savings will further support the M855A1 program.

 

Manufacturing

Manufacturing improvements helped reduce the round’s cost. Because the bullet assembly production equipment was aging, several units were rehabilitated to restore the equipment back to near original capability. These renovations improved the manufacturing quality.

The M855A1 has a reverse drawn jacket with an exposed penetrator projectile which is different than every other projectile in mass production at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant.

This projectile configuration, with complex and tight tolerances, required significant engineering work by engineers at the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, and Alliant Techsystems contractors at Lake City, Mo., to facilitate large scale manufacturing.

Another key in the low cost manufacturing of the bullet was the implementation of the M855A1 projectile onto the SCAMP line, which is able to assemble projectiles at a high rate. This included the refinement of the tooling package and changes to the in-process handling. Currently, the SCAMP process now manufactures the same projectile as the bullet assembly presses with the same performance capability.

In the fiscal year 2013 PEO Ammunition’s assigned VE goal was $10 million. This project helped PEO Ammunition exceed its organization goal with a total savings of $43.599 million.




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