Traveling Mobile Lab - Oil Analysis Van Heads to Iraq

Skip Vaughn, Redstone Rocket

A long beige van sits outside the U.S. Army Oil Analysis Program Office building at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. Within a month, it should be in Iraq.

The Army’s newest mobile oil analysis laboratory is the third of its kind, with one already in Iraq and the other in Afghanistan. A fixed-based or stationary lab is in Kuwait.

“The mobile oil analysis laboratory is more updated, has flat-screen monitors and rack-mounted PCs, allowing military personnel more counter space,” said David Smith. Smith is the logistics management specialist of the Army Oil Analysis Program Office, under the Logistics Support Activity.

“This provides more automation,” said oil analysis management specialist Jimmie Kingsolver.

Older oil analysis labs were deployed as far back as the first Persian Gulf War, and technology has since improved. “I don’t think the labs have been refurbished since the mid-1990s,” Kingsolver said.

Figure 1. Van-tastic - Phillip Preston, the Army oil
analysis program manager, looks inside the
reconfigured van that will provide oil analysis for
aviation and combat equipment in Iraq.

From the Field

When oil samples are delivered from aviation and combat equipment in the field, the laboratories perform a quality check. As a preventive maintenance tool, potential equipment wear is determined. Results of the oil analysis are automatically posted on a web site allowing the military units immediate feedback.

“This is the business of being able to see something break before it breaks,” said LOGSA commander Col. Jan Berry. “It is making sure that a soldier’s weapon works when it’s supposed to.”

“This is what it’s all about: supporting soldiers and taking care of soldiers,” said Phillip Preston, Army oil analysis program manager. “The labs help make sure they have the safest equipment we can provide.”

Figure 2. Inner Workings - LOGSA commander
Col. Jan Berry shows Col. Bob English, aviation and
missile command chief of staff, the rack-mounted
automatic data processing equipment inside the van.

Joining Forces

The new mobile lab culminates a 45-day effort involving various organizations including the Aviation and Missile Command’s Reuse Program. Test Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment joined the oil analysis office in obtaining the rack-mounted automatic data processing equipment. Reconfiguring a van cost $137,000, while the laboratory equipment inside is valued at $60,000.

“This oil analysis van is 100 percent logistically supported by the Army,” Preston said, meaning that the Army can order parts for it.

Oil analysis management specialist Joe Sanchez is credited with leading the effort for the new mobile lab. Other members of the oil analysis office include Mary Davis, Reena Strong, Maj. Rodney McWhorter, Richard Rigsby, Crystal Reed and Linda Morgan. The oil analysis office is part of LOGSA’s Soldier Support Center, led by Nick Mikus.

“As a team we couldn’t be more pleased,” Berry said. “And as a commander I couldn’t be more proud.”

Editor’s Note:
This article was originally published in The Redstone Rocket.

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