News: Kentucky maintenance facility earns top regional honor
Story by Sgt. Scott Raymond
FORT KNOX, Ky. -- On the edge of the Fort Knox garrison, military vehicles and equipment sit in clean, straight lines next to ordinary maintenance buildings that line the roads. A majority of those vehicles are ready for service, thanks to the extraordinary work of the soldiers in those buildings who maintain them.
One such building is the Kentucky Army National Guard’s Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site (MATES), whose soldiers were recently recognized for running one of the best maintenance facilities in the National Guard.
In competition with 13 other states, the Kentucky facility placed first to win the 2012 Army Award for Maintenance Excellence (AAME) for their region, in the TDA (Table of Distribution Allowances) Small category.
“This award is a true measurement of everything this facility has accomplished, from maintenance to safety to community involvement,” said 1st Lt. Timothy Lee, Assistant MATES Superintendent.
In August, the site submitted its packet for consideration at the National Guard level. Shops across the country were graded on mission readiness, training, hazardous material management, resource management and recycling, to name a few categories.
Lee said changes put into effect over the past year have really made an impact in the overall operation.“We have redefined our workflow process,” he said. “Redefined everyone’s jobs and job duties and implemented an inspection section for all aspects of work.”
Improvements in cost savings and site management have produced numbers worthy of national attention. The last eight months of the fiscal year saw a 300 percent increase in productivity per person over the previous year. All while 15 soldiers of the 51-man workforce were deployed overseas.
Lee said they are working toward cost savings by changing the way they order parts. Instead of ordering whole repair kits for vehicles, individual parts were ordered. In complying with the Army Oil Analysis Program, which addresses the usage of vehicle and equipment fluids, Lee estimates that Kentucky saved $51,000 in man-power in just one year, while saving around $105,000 in products.
The site also has decreased its electrical needs thanks to installed solar panels that help provide power to the building. The panels contributed to a decrease of 31.5 percent in electric energy usage. Their inventory has nearly 400 less products on hand than last year.
“We have truly been able to do more with less in this fiscally constrained environment,” said Lee.
A number Lee said the whole MATES is proud of is its 96.6 percent organizational readiness rate from last year. This means that only 3.4 percent of the entire fleet was down for maintenance for more than one month consistently. This covers vehicles and equipment used in support of drill weekends, annual training periods or pre-mobilization training during the year for Kentucky units as well as National Guard units from Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Indiana and North Carolina.
"Our participation in the AAME competition has had great command emphasis and has been a critical ingredient to establishing an organizational culture that highlights the necessity of a rock-solid maintenance program," said Lt. Col. Timothy Pickerrell, MATES Superintendent. "I am honored to lead this facility and to be a part of this hardworking group of technicians."
First Sgt. Douglas Hall is also proud of his soldiers at the MATES, and gives a lot of credit to the leadership for “keeping everyone on track”. He said his command’s collective effort to improve the operation and boost morale is well received in the building and increases the motivation of the soldiers to do a better job.
“Because of the way everything is organized and flows so well, we have maintained productivity,” said Hall. “Each shop is seeking even more work.”
Hall isn’t shy about acknowledging the accolades, knowing he’s part of a special operation that represents the Kentucky National Guard on a national level.
“If you want to see what a successful maintenance operation looks like, look at us.”
In addition to the MATES facility, the Central City-based 307th Component Repair Company also won first place in their regional unit category and will participate nationally later this year in an Army-wide competition.