Thu, Jul 03, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Military production unit moves with times

SEEING THE FUTURE Once a maker of military telescopes, the 402nd Arsenal now makes night-vision goggles, turning it into one of the military's more productive units

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The 402nd Arsenal of the Combined Logistics Command, which used to produce telescopes and compasses for the armed services, has managed to change with the times to ensure its survival.

The arsenal, located in Taichung, has over the past few years become the most productive unit of the Combined Logistics Command.

The new products that saved the arsenal from being absorbed by other units include a variety of night-vision goggles and the first domestically-developed thermal imager.

The night-vision goggles are in mass production and in use in the armed services. Except for some certain key components bought from abroad, the goggles are made from locally-produced parts.

The thermal imager, a more complicated piece of equipment, is still in the development stage.

Colonel Hsiao Chih-chun (蕭治群), director of the 402nd Arsenal, said that a prototype of the thermal imager is being redesigned to be more user-friendly.

"With these new products, we are now the most productive unit of the Combined Logistics Command," Hsiao said.

Before Hsiao took command nearly two years ago, the arsenal produced goods worth just a few tens of millions of NT dollars.

But after Hsiao took office and initiated a series of innovation efforts, the arsenal's production value has now risen to NT$500 million a year.

The sharp rise in production value is largely the result of the night-vision goggles developed in the past two years.

The three branches of the amilitary, especially the army, have ordered a large number of night-vision goggles from the 402nd Arsenal. The exact number is a secret.

"For the arsenal to survive in a changing environment, we must take the initiative. We are now operating according to four main principles: betterment, economy, service and trust," Hsiao said.

"We will not sit in the office waiting for opportunities. We now go out on a regular basis to military bases to introduce our new products. We also provide a circuit maintenance service for our users around the country," he said.

The arsenal's ability to seize opportunities was demonstrated most recently during the SARS outbreak. The Arsenal came up with an infrared thermometer that can check the temperatures of several people at the same time.

The thermometer, though useful, could not be used extensively because it was still under development at the time.

It was used mainly at the headquarters of the Combined Logistics Command in Taipei.

The performance of the arsenal since Hsiao took over has ensured its survival.

"We are the only unit in the military that produces optical devices. We run it like a corporation. We have designed our own logo. We have also obtained patents for four of our products," Hsiao said.

"The 402nd Arsenal has three different kinds of international certificates for quality of product and management. They include ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001," he said.

The arsenal will play a major role in the development of personal equipment for a "future warrior" that the military is designing.

This equipment includes night-vision goggles, a thermal imager, a laser range-finder and a wireless video-transmission system that can send battlefield images back to the command center.

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