U.S. Army Looks to Automate Howitzer Artillery Loading

Army Howitzer400x275

August 3, 2021

The U.S. Army has chosen Eckhart to design and build automation to increase the rate of fire for its self-propelled Howitzers. As part of the SPARTN Fire Faster program, the Army Applications Laboratory evaluated hundreds of potential industry partners before selecting and funding five companies to lead the modernization effort. Eckhart said it was proud to announce this new relationship with the Army and to embrace the mission to improve safety and efficiency for U.S. soldiers.

The process of loading and handling artillery is basically the same today as it has been over the last 100 years. Soldiers in cramped confines are asked to complete precision movement of projectiles up to 50 lbs with no mechanical assistance. Fatigue and musculoskeletal injuries are common. The Army is looking to find solutions at use in the private sector, specifically in manufacturing environments, to improve the situation.

“The opportunity to improve soldier safety and efficiency within the Self-Propelled Howitzer is a challenge that we felt is best addressed by identifying and selecting qualified industry partners,” said Chris Sankovich of the Army Applications Lab in Austin, Texas. “Our role is then to help take industry best practices and work with our cohort companies for timely and successful incorporation to the U.S. Army’s Howitzer systems.”

Eckhart said it sees many similarities between soldiers loading artillery and the lift & load work performed by industrial customers every day on American manufacturing lines. “In the Fortune 500 manufacturing environment that we have operated in for over six decades, there is an intense focus on optimizing the safety, ergonomics, and efficiency of technicians who perform assembly tasks each day,” said Travis Turner, general manager of Eckhart’s Davenport Operations. “The Eckhart team has deep expertise working within tight ergonomic windows where thresholds define the maximum weights that can be lifted before mechanical assistance or a robotic alternative is required.”

The company said expertise in solving operator safety and ergonomic challenges on an assembly line provides a great starting point to help the Army deploy technology and automation to help soldiers. “We’re excited to be part of such an innovative program that affords us an opportunity to bring disruptive technology to the U.S. Army,” said Turner. “All stakeholders involved are committed to reshaping how industry works with the Army and reuniting American innovation and national security through the joint-partnership of our collective team.”

For more details on Eckhart, visit its website here

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