Prioritizing Safety in Facilities and Infrastructure at Ammunition Plant

The Background

It’s an Army base like none other. Spanning close to 4,000 acres and comprised of more than 400 buildings and nine warehouses, 98% of the Department of Defense (DOD) small-arms ammunition is generated at this one plant. Safety is a priority that is at the forefront of all decision-making. One misstep, one error, could result in a loss of lives. In addition to the production of ammunition for the DOD, additional ammunition is manufactured for retail distribution. With four different types of ammunition being manufactured, the facility produces over six billion rounds of ammunition yearly.

The DOD owns the 83-year-old facility located just east of Independence, Missouri. It was constructed at the end of World War II (1941), and today, continues to be the only active, government-owned, contractor-operated manufacturing facility for small-arms ammunition. The Lake City Army Ammunition Plant has remained in continuous operation apart from a five-year gap following World War II.

Employees, contractors and visitors must pass a background check to enter the property. Security is tight, person-specific badges are issued and must be always worn, while vehicles on the property must be inspected from top to bottom upon arrival and departure. Staff at this facility are not willing to take any chances.

Since October 2020, the facility has been managed and operated by Olin-Winchester. The Olin-Winchester contract has an initial term of seven years but may be extended by the Army for up to three additional years. Even though the company operating the facility might change due to contract negotiations, the staff and leadership primarily remain the same.

GBA and GBA Builders Involvement

GBA and GBA Builders are committed to working with Olin-Winchester at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant to ensure the safety and functionality at the facilities. The facilities must have continued reliability now and for years to come. GBA has been on-site for more than a decade, with GBA Builders stepping in over the last few years. As with most facilities, over time, buildings age, technology changes and improvements need to be prioritized.

With several GBA and GBA Builders employees on site, the team provides building assessments and engineering reviews, in addition to the rehabilitation of streamlines and HVAC systems. Roofs and piping within the facilities have also been replaced at the recommendation of GBA and GBA Builders staff.

Most buildings on-site are original to the Army base and are still active today. The buildings are strategically positioned facing different directions and spaced out to prevent an accident at one building to spread to another. With safety at the forefront of decision-making, GBA and GBA Builders staff provide recommendations for improvements to keep the facility running and ensure the buildings are up to code.

The Challenges

There are many challenges facing the facility today. For one, most improvements must be completed while the site is shut down from production. This typically only happens a handful of times each year. Improvements and renovations are carefully scheduled when production is not live to minimize exposure to materials that could potentially cause an explosion.

Because of the specific time constraints, machinery and equipment are built at different locations using process skids. All testing is performed ahead of time so that when the plant shuts down, staff can quickly install the already tested equipment more efficiently.

Staff is constantly on alert, watching others as they work. Humidity and temperature are monitored closely in specific rooms to ensure that static is minimized. Walls are thick to prevent accidents and specific clothing must be worn for safety. All contractors must follow signage and safety protocols as one mistake could be detrimental.

The Future

GBA and GBA Builders intend to continue their involvement with maintaining and updating the current facilities on the site. As needs change, there is always the possibility of constructing new facilities with the production of new ammunition lines at the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant.

To learn more about Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, visit


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