Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Announcing the FBCB: The Fully Burdened Cost of ... Batteries

This blog has covered energy metrics before plenty of times (don't worry - I won't do that annoying "here" and "here" and "here" thing; you can search for yourself). Over time, we've seen the 7-step Fully Burdened Cost of Fuel (FBCF) methodology genericized by the Army into the Fully Burdened Cost of Energy (FBCE), and now, thanks to an enterprising group of DOD energy specialists at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterrey, it's morphed into the Fully Burdened Cost of Batteries (FBCB).

In their brand-new paper and presentation "Batteries on the Battlefield: Developing a Methodology to Estimate the Fully Burdened Cost of Batteries in the Department of Defense" Marine Major Troy Kiper, Army Major Anthony Hughley, and Army Major Mark McClellan build on work already underway in OSD and the Army for the fuels supply chain, and modify it to reflect the particularities of the battery world.

For one thing, as Major Kiper points, there's a huge difference because whereas fuels just burn up, the FBCB is a double supply chain, with energized batteries going in, and depleted batteries coming out of the combat zone. It's nice that they develop both CONUS and operational scenarios, as some previous studies have taken the easy way out and only focused on peacetime ops at home.

For me, the biggest things to get at are less about dollar costs and more about mission enhancement or impairment. This report does the job for the supply chain/convoy/force protection concerns. But in the recommendations section, it also notes that further goodness could be derived by examining the effects of battery weights on soldiers. I hope these guys get a chance to go after this info in detail, but can tell you already, even from this ivory tower, that reducing battery loads on troops will produce more effective, less exhausted fighters every time.

Photo credit: Defenseindustrydaily.com

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