Significant Savings Possible Through More Efficient Depot Maintenance of Army Combat Vehicles

LCD-80-82: Published: Aug 7, 1980. Publicly Released: Aug 7, 1980.

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For years, Congress has expressed concern about the low productivity level and increasing maintenance costs at Defense depots. During the fiscal year 1979, the Army spent about $688 million on depot maintenance in the continental United States and in Europe, of which about $263 million was spent to overhaul and repair combat vehicles and associated components at three depots in the United States and one in Mainz, West Germany.

It was found that productivity could be improved and maintenance costs could be reduced if the Army: (1) operated its three U.S. depots as effectively as the the one in Mainz; (2) overhauled vehicles only when needed based on mileage and vehicle condition; and (3) eliminated work at the depot level that could be accomplished at a lower level. Good estimating techniques, based on reliable work measurement data, were not used to identify and control labor requirements for combat vehicle overhauls and repairs. Instead, the depots used historical averages of prior work which perpetuate the mistakes and inefficiencies of prior estimates. The methods and standards program, which is the key to workloading and effective production control, lacked management emphasis, quality, and quantity. The labor and production reporting system did not contain reliable data for making decisions and analyzing variances between actual and expected results. Questionable rework and nonproductive time charges contributed to this lack of reliable data. Work methods emphasized overhaul rather than less costly repairs of major vehicle assemblies.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Army to: (1) determine total combat vehicle maintenance requirements for Europe and the quantities to be satisfied by the Mainz Army Depot and other maintenance sources; (2) establish more realistic wartime maintenance workloads for combat vehicle depots in the U.S.; (3) determine contractor potential for doing more combat vehicle depot maintenance work so that the Army can effectively match requirements with available resources; (4) identify the extent of repair parts shortages and make sure the impact of such shortages on depot maintenance capacities and capabilities is appropriately considered in mobilization planning; (5) discontinue the practice of selecting combat vehicles for overhaul on the basis of accumulated mileage; (6) periodically monitor and evaluate the progress made in implementing the reliability centered maintenance program for combat vehicles; (7) identify and assign work to the appropriate maintenance level so as to maintain expertise and capability at all maintenance levels; (8) estimate labor requirements on the basis of valid labor standards rather than on fixed prices or historical averages; (9) fully implement an effective work measurement system at U.S. depots; (10) require system discipline and integrity to overcome existing inadequacies and errors in the U.S. depots' and Mainz's present management information systems; (11) initiate a formal information exchange of work methods and practices between the U.S. depots and Mainz and make the most cost effective practices the standards for all depots to follow; and (12) discontinue the practice of routinely overhauling vehicles and major assemblies at U.S. depots without prior inspection to determine if the condition of the vehicles or assemblies actually warrants such overhaul.

    Agency Affected:


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