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Revolutionizing Small Arms Ammunition Demilitarization: A Green and Efficient Approach



In the vast landscape of industrial demilitarization, the formidable challenge lies in the prompt disposal of obsolete munitions, often overlooked by nations lacking in stockpile surveillance and anticipation. The storage of unserviceable ammunition incurs costs without returns; however, these seemingly discarded munitions contain materials whose market value continues to rise, potentially covering the expenses of their destruction.


Private companies across the globe have stepped forward, playing a pivotal role in supporting the Ministries of Defence and Manufacturing Industry by providing facilities, equipment, technologies, and expertise. This intervention alleviates states of major investment efforts in demilitarisation facilities. A prime example of such collaboration is the demilitarization of Small Arms Ammunition (SAA).


Small Arms Ammunition demilitarization serves as an exemplary application of the best available technologies by private companies. It serves as a testament to how private initiatives, propelled by economic interests, contribute to solving common safety and security issues in various countries.

Over time, SAA loses functionality, becoming unsafe for storage and raises security concerns. The small size and common storage of millions of such munitions may contribute to their illegal circulation, leading to civilian casualties in armed conflicts and criminal activities. Traditionally SAA is disposed of by incineration.


This disposal method, ie open burning, lacks control, environmental care, and material recovery. The material recovered is burnt mixed metal and that too in lesser weight than the original. The process involves laborious work engaging manpower and other resources.


It also emits a huge amount of uncontrolled poisonous gasses. Despite limited environmental research, a noteworthy study conducted by the Ammunition Equipment Directorate at Tooele Army Depot in Utah, USA reveals that the incineration of one metric ton of complete rounds emits approximately 45 kg of NOx. This finding underscores a significant environmental concern that warrants careful consideration and mitigation strategies.


Addressing these concerns, Lodestar Strategic, the Defence Subsidiary of BEKEM Infra Projects Pvt Ltd which is a Hyderabad-based niche hydromechanical engineering company, has designed mobile demilitarization units in collaboration with their technology partner, KA Safe Engineering based out of Madrid in Spain.


These fully automated units, equipped for material recovery, allow demilitarization at depot locations, minimizing logistics risks and costs. Comprising ISO containers, these mobile facilities can be rapidly deployed on flat surfaces inside depot premises. This gives the depot absolute control on the input munitions and recoveries that can be electronically counted and weighed,


Automation reduces human exposure to risk, operating costs, and the learning curve, making the process more secure and efficient. Recovery for reuse aligns with environmental best practices and Circular Economy trends, offering economic incentives for a swift return on investment.


Lodestar Strategic's innovative approach not only addresses security and protection challenges but also offers a short-term return on investment driven by the increasing market value of extracted raw materials. This environmentally friendly solution contributes to societal well-being and environmental preservation.


There are many possible configurations for an SAA mobile demilitarization plant, accommodating variations in projectile content meaning all calibres of SAA can be dismantled. It emphasizes the importance of incorporating separators for extracted metals, enhancing the recovery value.


Lodestar's business approach involves full ownership of the entire equipment range, offering services to customers through a service agreement. This innovative strategy eliminates the need for users to undergo lengthy tendering processes or make substantial capital expenditures. Demilitarization services are provided on-site, minimizing the use of valuable manpower for the user and streamlining the process.


In the event of mechanical failure or accidents, Lodestar takes responsibility for equipment replacement or repair, utilizing its proficient in-house engineering resources. This proactive approach spares the customer from dealing with cumbersome Annual Maintenance Contracts (AMCs) or prolonged waits for spare parts. Moreover, users are relieved from the need to invest in personnel training for equipment, resulting in significant savings on training costs.


In addressing security concerns, Lodestar plans to deploy verified ex-servicemen as part of their workforce. This proactive measure ensures that only trusted and secure personnel access the user's sensitive installations, providing a sense of relief and confidence for the customer.


The demilitarization process not only results in substantial cost savings for users in the range of crores of rupees but also contributes to environmental preservation by preventing the emission of approximately 45 kilograms of NOx per metric ton. The process prioritizes safety, boasting remote operation capabilities while tracking each round or bullet meticulously. Furthermore, the comprehensive recycling of all components is facilitated through this innovative demilitarization method.

 



 


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