Opportunities exist for shops of all sizes to support the U.S. Department of Defense. Unfortunately, shops without a working history with the DoD or its suppliers have had difficulty getting their feet in the DoD’s door. If that has been your experience, then you might check out what the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) offers. Established in 2003, the NCDMM helps shops understand the requirements, regulations and competitive bidding practices necessary to successfully serve this market. It also brings together U.S. machining equipment manufacturers, known as Alliance Partners, to assist shops in identifying more efficient ways to machine the exotic materials and complex geometries common with today’s defense-related components. Current Alliance Partners include Haas Automation, Fryer Machine, Hardinge, FARO Technologies and Parlec Inc.
The NCDMM is headquartered on Kennametal’s campus in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Its facility includes a technology center where Alliance Partners’ equipment and expertise are applied to tackle shops’ complex machining projects. To date, the NCDMM has completed 90 projects totaling more than $478 million in cost savings/avoidance for the DoD, all the while helping shops to implement better part-machining strategies.
John R. Winebrenner is manager of advanced manufacturing technology for the NCDMM. He says the two ways shops typically serve this industry is to contract directly with defense agencies such as the Defense Logistic Agency (DLA) or to be a supplier to large defense contractors. However, shops often find it difficult dealing with the DLA’s bureaucratic requirements. And while dealing directly with a defense contractor is less cumbersome, shops typically must possess a high level of machining capability and capacity.
To help shops serve these two customers, the NCDMM first formed a consortium of interested shops. It then advised consortium members about the appropriate “next steps,” such as registering with Central Contractor Registration, applying for minority certification (if applicable) and paying closer attention to their quality control standards.
Once the consortium was established, the NCDMM presented the total capability of the consortium to the DLA and defense contractors, and identified best practices for shops to interface with those two customer bases. In the case of DLA, for example, it found brokers that were willing to act as a prime contractor on DLA programs, which reduced the amount of paperwork associated with government contracting.
The NCDMM has grown its initial base of 20 shops to more than 80. If you think you’d like to get involved, visit www.ncdmm.org.