Military News

Friday, January 22, 2016

New airfield lamps benefit budget, environment, base personnel

by Gina Randall
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

1/21/2016 - RAF MILDENHALL, England -- The environmental impact is important to any organization and the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron has made changes on the airfield that will not only save energy, but save money.

"The airfield lighting team designed, built and implemented a raised perimeter road traffic light system," said Martin Parker, 100th CES Airfield Lighting supervisor. "This was to increase visual awareness for road users."

The results mean aircraft are able to land safely with minimal disruption to road users.

"As a result, the new road layout now has a clearer indication of when the control tower implements a road closure for mission-critical instrument landing system application," Parker added. "The collaboration between airfield lighting and airfield management minimized the disruption to the mission by reducing disturbance to the traffic management system on the airfield perimeter roads."

The safety of Air Force personnel and assets are paramount to base leaders.

"Colonel Bibb (Col. Kenneth T. Bibb Jr., former 100th Air Refueling Wing commander) and the 100th ARW safety office requested this change due to a number of drivers disregarding the red light, causing a breach of the temporarily restricted area," Parker said. To meet road safety regulations, we reconstructed the existing traffic management system by retrofitting the old lights to a new raised flangable system.

The primary reason was safety, but other factors such as saving money were behind the installation of new lighting.

"We replaced inefficient halogen lamps with LED (light emitting diode) lamps into the runway distance remaining markers, which saves more than $19,000 a year," Parker explained. "Our aim was to save money in energy consumption and to save money in less maintenance costs over time."

The civilians and military members worked together for the common goal.

"The airfield lighting and structures shops were asked if they could upgrade an old traffic light system, while at the same time saving the government money to outsource the work via contract," said Master Sgt. Arlen Wilkes, 100th CES facilities superintendent. "My team accepted the challenge and immediately got to work on the design and implementation of the new traffic light system. Their innovation and means to think outside-the-box speaks volumes to the caliber of work they can do. The sky is the limit for my team, and I'm proud to work beside such great people."

With any project, it's vital to compare the costs with the potential benefits to ensure it's worthwhile. So far, the team is proud of the task and the implications for base personnel.

"It's early days (for this project), but since these traffic lights were installed no one has driven through a red light," Parker said. "And cost-wise, in two years and one month, the installation versus the savings will break even."

The 100th CES wants to ensure it keeps the runway operational while not wasting unnecessary funds. It's a difficult balance but Wilkes is working with leadership to do this.

"Every single day the airfield lighting and structures crews ensure that the 100th ARW mission is uninterrupted and the base populace is safe," Wilkes said. "They will continue to do so until we leave."

Leaders need to balance the safety of their people with the condition of the base when its handed it back to the U.K., while ensuring U.S. tax payers' dollars are used properly.

"The cost of running the lamp halogen for 12-hours a day is $1,320.88, while the new LED light bars only cost $156.55 to run -- a huge saving over time," explained Parker. "If you think of this over a year while including maintenance costs, the outdated halogen lamps cost $19,502.88 to run while the new LED light bars cost the original $156 as they don't require new lamps or labor and maintenance costs."

While the financial savings are a huge benefit to the U.S., and the environmental savings are a benefit to the world as a whole, for the team in 100th CES, they benefit knowing what they do could save a life.

"It's important to understand that safety is number one. It should be the first thought in everyone's mind when doing any work here on RAF Mildenhall. Nobody is above safety! " exclaimed Wilkes. "I'm pleased to say that the work the airfield lighting and structures crews did reduced traffic violations by 86 percent. Their efforts created a safe and more secure driving environment around the airfield, and that was and always will be our goal."

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