As one who served in the military for 30 years in a very maintenance intensive field (Artillery), and as someone who has also been involved in providing protective cover solutions for the military for over a decade, it was very gratifying to review the U.S. Army’s comprehensive business case analysis on the use of equipment covers for Army ground systems.
While there were no revelations, the report did an outstanding job codifying and clarifying the importance of the use of covers as a solution to military equipment degradation. After thorough analysis, it concluded with several supporting points:
- Covers prevent 90% of corrosion
- Covers are effective at protecting equipment from environmental damage
- Covers are cost effective with a 19:1 return on investment (increases in more severe climates)
- Covers are less likely to let contaminants reach the equipment
- Covers provide benefit to any equipment stored outside
What is not covered are some of the more intangible benefits. While in the military, we struggled to properly maintain our equipment against the ravages of the harsh environments we served in. Because our equipment and vehicles sat in the open, we spent hours, daily, cleaning and re-lubricating their critical components to ensure they were mission ready.
I visited a Civil War museum exhibit awhile ago and was taken aback by the tools used by the Cannon Crews to maintain their equipment. They were no different than what we used when I was in the military! That’s 140 years of progress?
Fortunately, modernization prevailed, and we have a simple solution: Equipment covers.
When custom-fitted covers entered the market, they offered a new solution to an old problem. Up until then, the man-hours spent fighting degradation by using excessive amounts of oil and lubricants not only caused Hazmat situations but also destroyed expensive boots and uniforms that the young service members had to struggle financially to replace. Protective covers reduced that dramatically.
Most important, equipment covers free up time so that the intelligent and dedicated young service members can train for the difficult and dangerous missions they will face, and have faced since 11 September 2001. Busting rust and greasing items are not remarkable skills. While they are important to learn, they are repetitive and time-consuming tasks, especially if there are affordable alternatives. Equipment covers are the efficient and effective alternative.
Perhaps the U.S. Army could have released this study sooner, but in their defense, over the last 15 years they have had quite a few other important issues to manage! In the meantime, some PMs and many end users discovered their value and began to experience the benefits. I applaud the Army for commissioning the business case analysis and for taking the step toward a U.S. military standard for protective covers.
Jeff Vold is Transhield's VP of Government & Industrial Sales. He is a 30-year veteran of the USMC and USMCR where he served in operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia. He retired as a Colonel in 2012.