6. Bradley Army Tank
The project manager at Pacific Car & Foundry asked me if I would be interested to take on a project for the design of a complete manufacturing plant for the Bradley Army Tank, and which had to be completed within three months time. I needed employment, so I accepted this job offer. On the second day on the project, I suggested to the project manager that we need to produce new technology and manufacturing processes; otherwise we could not compete against General Motors, Chrysler, General Dynamics and Ling-Tempo-Vaught. The Pacific Car & foundry management agreed, and I recommended a robotic welding system for welding the entire tank hull. By perfecting the welding process, the army approved my proposal of X-raying 1 of every 20 tanks.
After completing the machining operation with a Cincinnati Millicron, the tank hull was brought to a laser inspection station, where the tank hull could be inspected within 15 minutes by locking onto laser reference points. The tank hull would be certified and released for final assembly. All this was new manufacturing technology for the army. Ordinarily the tank hull inspection required 3-4 days.
With close cooperation of 13 engineers, I was able to lay out and design a very compact plant with automated assembly lines, and an easy assembly parts restocking system. This project required a testing and proving ground, and a facility for cleaning and preservation before the Bradley Army Tanks were shipped to the army supply depots.
The overall manufacturing cost savings were estimated at $39+ million for the initial quantity of army tanks. The Pacific Car & Foundry management agreed with my suggestion of using color pictures of the Bradley Army Tank on the front cover of the proposal with impressive pictures of past defense projects, including a slogan: “Pacific Car & Foundry is a family owned business, where quality and workmanship is still a family tradition.” FMC Corporation heard of what was being designed at Pacific Car & Foundry, and was heavily lobbying the government, as FMC already had a $3.2 billion contract. A Walter Krankheit newscast stated that FMC engaged in unreasonable and unfair lobbying of Congress, but then President Reagan cancelled this project anyway. FMC Corp. in San Jose continued the production of the Bradley Army Tank. General Dynamics in San Diego later manufactured the Bradley Army Tank.
A large Navy shipbuilding company came to my company and disclosed that they had a major problem with the Rapid Deployment Ships, also called LSD, and this problem needed to be kept confidential from the Navy. These Rapid Deployment Ships required engine maintenance while on high seas, but the large engines could not be serviced due to not having sufficient headroom for lifting out engine components. Within a few days, I developed a functional system. I personally delivered my design to this large shipbuilding company. This company was very appreciative of my effort, as they were not able to solve this problem; otherwise these already built ships required major redesign and high rework costs. All I received was a handshake for my efforts.
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