Original Date: 06/23/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Real Time Radiography Applied to Paladin Production
In 1993, as part of the Paladin howitzer upgrade program, Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD) became responsible for the hull modifications necessary to convert inducted M109 A2/A3 vehicles to the M109 A6 Paladin configuration. The upgrade included an x-ray requirement for the travel lock bracket assembly, which is welded onto the front of the hull.
At the beginning of the program, with a lower production rate of eight vehicles per month, the welded hulls were loaded on a truck; transported several miles to the conventional x-ray facility; unloaded and mounted on a transport fixture; and moved into position in the facility. This process was time and labor consuming and involved a good deal of logistical coordination. The radiographic testing required loading film, and exposing and processing 20 shots at the welded area with two technicians spending a total of 14 man-hours. A failure indication required returning the hull to the welding facility for repair and then repeating the x-ray process.
A new real time radiographic facility (Figure 2-1) was built and has been operational for the last two years. Having this new facility has improved the efficiency of this process and prepared LEAD for the requirements of full-scale production of 18 hulls per month. The facility consists of a 160KV source, image intensifier, camera, and console/TV display. The source can be positioned and aimed remotely for all 20 shots from the control panel. Viewing and interpretation is real time through the TV display in the control room with no need for film processing.
With this new system, the hull is inspected in the manufacturing building with transport only requiring a shop cart and forklift. The x-ray image is viewed on a high resolution screen, and records are stored on Super VHS tape. The real time radiography system includes the ability to computer enhance the image to improve the view of any indications. The original 14 man-hours required for the x-ray technicians has been reduced to four man-hours. The transport and logistics costs (truck, trailer, driver, loading, and unloading) have been virtually eliminated. Hazardous material generation has been reduced by the real time viewing which eliminated the need for film and film processing supplies. A printout of any indication can also be made and sent to the weld shop along with any hull requiring repair. Value Engineering savings for implementing this real time system was placed at approximately $663 thousand over a three-year period.
Figure 2-1. Real Time Radiographic Facility
For more information see the
Point of Contact for this survey.