US Army IOTV Laundering Saves $62 Million

A few years ago there was a major shortage of Improved Outer Tactical Vest body armor systems. Two members of the Soldier Equipment Support Team, Life Cycle Logistics, Product Support Integration Directorate, Integrated Logistics Support Center, Natick Soldier Systems Center, studied the best way to commercially clean, rather than replace, IOTV garments. Willie Yung and Jason Sellazzo (seen above) found a method that has already saved the Army more than $62 million over two years.

They conducted a one-year study, sponsored by Product Manager Soldier Protective Equipment, in 2009-2010, using 90 IOTVs from the Central Issue Facility at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The vests were separated into nine groups of 10 each in three classifications: lightly, moderately and heavily soiled.

After the IOTVs were commercially cleaned three times each using four different methods in Nashville, Tennessee, they were sent to the Textile Materials Evaluation Team at Natick. Testing there revealed that commercial cleaning of IOTV components using “computer-controlled wet cleaning” was safe, effective, would result in huge cost savings over replacement, and would help ease any shortage of vests in theater.

“In 2010 and 2011, the Central Management Office has cleaned a total of 145,000 IOTVs,” Yung said. “And we estimate that by cleaning them, we have helped avoid spending over $62 million, because if they could not be cleaned, then the Army would have to buy new ones to replace them.”

Natick is currently working on a new contract to continue this money saving process. They are also looking at expanding the cleaning to other OCIE items beyond just the IOTV.


19 Responses to “US Army IOTV Laundering Saves $62 Million”

  1. JP says:

    And they thought S.H.I.E.L.D. in Ironman was an awkward acronym…

    Hi. I’m so-and-so from S.E.S.T.L.C.L.P.S.I.D.I.L.S.C.N.S.S.C.

    (I would copy the part of the first paragraph I’m referring to, but it all got coded as a hyperlink to the pic.)

  2. Jack says:

    Wait…you can clean things and re-use them instead of throwing them away once they get dirty?

  3. Joe says:

    Then why does CIF want Joe to clean the stuff, since obviously Joe is qualified to clean body armor. What? You can’t throw the whole thing in the washing machine?

    • Joe Schmoe says:

      You do realize that they were talking about the body armor GARMENTS (i.e., – the vest that holds the body armor and not the armor itself).

      So yes, a washing machine (or simple hand wash) would be fine. Of course, being the military, we have to spend millions of dollars to find this out…

      • john doe says:

        Simple washing machines have also shrank and faded tens of thousands of vest and gives the manufacturer a easy out if the items performance were to be questioned.

  4. Bulldog says:

    Noble concept.. Well thats all folks. Natick figured it out…actually PEO figured it out and they are getting no credit. The PEO is the LIFE CYCLE authority. They started this thing and BTW, they have something better already..

  5. Jeff Rutter says:

    I hope these two men got a bonus, a raise, and lots of attaboys. It’s not often that we see govt employees going the extra mile to save money.

  6. John says:

    OMG, Clean something and re-ues it. Now why didn’t I think of that. I could be a millionare 62 times over.

    Only problem is they discovered how to evtend the life of the IOTV. I want that thing to DIE so we can be rid of it and move on to plate carriers….at least in the infantry.

    • SSD says:

      With til you get ahold of the SPCS. Out of the frying pan…

      • FormerSFMedic says:

        Haha, well said Eric!

      • John says:

        Not a fan of the issue plate carrier either. I have my own but uninformed people at BN staff levels and up notice it to easily……probably becsuse it’s not UCP (ACU pattern).
        How much money was waisted on UCP? I HATE it. How much more money is being waisted to choose a new patteren? Didn’t the Army just spend big bucks selecting Multi Cam?
        Are we living in some alter universe where the super powe common sence doesn’t work.

        Sorry for getting off track.

        Back to our regularly scheduled insanity.

  7. Ben Branam says:

    I wonder how much the year long “study” costed? I’m with everyone else here. Why didn’t they just ask the end users how to clean it. They probably know. And it’s a good thing they tested to see if it was still “safe.” It’s only the carrier. If the thing will hold gear and armor, it’s still safe.

    I am totally with John. That thing needs to die. It’s the worst body armor carrier ever invented.

  8. James says:

    OK… the carrier… NOT the ARMOR! was clean… and at a cost of less than $300 for a carrier that is only $43.5 million. But still a nice savings.

  9. Chris says:

    I would really like to see actual cost figures as opposed to “cost savings” — what is the ACTUAL cost of cleaning an IOTV set under this program? Using the figures in the article, the DOD saved $427 per unit ($62M divided by 145,000)…which doesn’t make much sense as it costs about $200 for each IOTV carrier sans ballistics. I feel like there is some spurious math involved here! Anybody else agree?

  10. UVRC says:

    Wait a minute, you can wash stuff like that?! So, my wife can wash her diamond ring and doesn’t need a new one every time it gets dirty…

  11. Riceball says:

    I’m curious, is there a reason you can’t simply throw the vest into a washing machine to clean it? I can understand that you probably wouldn’t want to use regular laundry detergent because of things like color brighteners which could affect its IR properties but what about just chucking it in the wash with no detergents or just simply hosing it with a quick, light scrub with a brush? Is Kevlar that sensitive that it needs special handling or something?

    • SSD says:

      You don’t wash it with the armor inserts in place. All you are washing is the cover.

    • john doe says:

      Think about it….. Webbing fits just right, but what if it shrinks?

      How about the plates, what happens when they don’t fit because the carrier shrank?

      This is a piece of protective equipment that is being reissued. Do you really what to trust the last person that wore it to have cared for it property.

      A good cleaning and inspection insures you get clean equipment in working order that could potentially save a life and it saves money… A real win-win!