PHILADELPHIA, Pa. --- Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing or AM, is the newest phenomenon in the technology world. According to Forbes, engineers are now able to print everything from house keys to mechanical car parts. Just imagine what kinds of things the Navy can now do with 3D printers available for ships and submarines.
The Navy is currently striving to continuously advance technologies and embrace innovation. And as a result, the Navy is working to expand the naval supply chain and develop efficiencies through the utilization of AM.
AM has the ability to transform how the Navy produces aircraft and ship parts that will aid in keeping them flying, ship sailing and mission ready. It has the capability to save time, money and eliminate excess inventory. In comparison to traditional manufacturing, AM has already proven to be more effective and provides agility.
Last year, Rear Adm. Jon Yuen, commander, Naval Supply Systems Command, established the framework for the NAVSUP Enterprise with the development of his 2017-2021 "Strategic Plan & Commander's Guidance." Over the next five years, one of NAVSUP's key initiatives is enhancing the supply chain processes by developing policies and procedures to support the expansion of AM throughout the Navy.
As the Navy's premier supply chain manager, NAVSUP is playing a major role in the integration of AM throughout the Navy supply chain. As part of that role, NAVSUP WSS, who is the Navy's only Program Support Inventory Control Point (PSICP), has been leading an effort to create an AM Contracting Guidebook that will enable the Navy to enhance its current acquisition processes, reduce procurement cost and lead time and enhance warfighter readiness. This will ultimately speed up production, maintenance and supply of parts by integrating AM throughout all phases of the acquisition cycle while also relieving an ongoing issue that supply planners are currently experiencing across the NAVSUP enterprise.
"AM could bring about revolutionary changes to naval supply support, with an associated paradigm shift from the current order and stocking system to implementation of just-in-time inventory," said Capt. Armen Kurdian, NAVSUP WSS director of Engineering and Product Support, who has been leading the working group to develop the guidebook. "It has the potential to evolve how we support the warfighter tremendously."
NAVSUP WSS is steaming ahead with the development of a comprehensive contracting guide by collaborating with other Department of Defense agencies that have started to develop additive manufactured parts, such as Naval Air Systems Command, Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Facilities Engineering Command and the Office of Naval Research, plus Air Force, Army, General Services Administration, and Defense Logistics Agency to consolidate best practices and acquisition roles into one document.
The NAVSUP WSS team of engineers and contracting specialists plan to have a draft guidebook completed by the end of this year that lays out business models, contractual language and incorporates existing statements of work and objectives and references previously published articles by industry and DOD personnel. Once approved at the Department of the Navy level, the guidebook can be used by not only USN and USMC, but could be adopted by all services and ultimately used DOD wide.
NAVSUP WSS has made the development of an inclusive AM Contracting Guidebook a priority in an effort to carry out the Navy's mission of advancing technologies and innovation. According to Kurdian, this guidebook will improve supply chain management and bolster warfighter readiness, which is a crucial part of NAVSUP WSS's business. AM is projected to improve naval supply support and will lead the charge in advancing technology and innovation for not only NAVSUP WSS, but the entire Navy.
A field activity of the Naval Supply Systems Command, NAVSUP WSS is the Navy's supply chain manager and Program Support Inventory Control Point providing worldwide support to the aviation, surface ship and submarine communities. NAVSUP WSS provides Navy, Marine Corps, joint and allied forces with products and services that deliver combat capability through logistics. There are more than 2,000 civilian and military personnel employed at its two Pennsylvania sites and Norfolk, Virginia, office.