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Bridging the gaps in defense manufacturing supply chains in US

Participating in the supply chain of the U.S. defense industry poses complex challenges for the nations manufacturers.

The C-5 cargo plane currently is flying with parts that nobody makes anymore.  One of the complex challenges of the Defense Logistics Agency, with depots in Philadelphia, Columbus, Ohio and Richmond, Virginia, is to find suppliers that will keep the C-5 up in the air.  The agencys larger purpose is to keep U.S. defense forces operating with zero interruption in supplies.

The supply chain of the U.S. defense industry is one of the most intricate in the world.  With spending reaching record levels, in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually, it also is one of the most competitive.  The constant demand by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for original equipment or crucial, often unavailable legacy parts is a daunting challenge, not only for small and medium-sized manufacturers, but for the entire supply chain.

Complicating this challenge, as a matter of national policy the DoD also must constantly seek world-class domestically based manufacturing capabilities and new technologies to support war fighters and to accomplish its mission.

Currently, multinational corporations with global reach attempt to source what they need from suppliers that provide the best quality, price, technical contribution and support, regardless of their location.  As a result, domestic manufacturers are facing stiff competition from low-cost suppliers with offshore locations.

These advantages, however, are sometimes mitigated by higher logistics costs, like shipping, inventory, risk of product obsolescence, quality issues, risks of natural disasters and political uncertainty.  Certainly the U.S. would be less vulnerable if more leaders in global supply chains would design and market their products in America.


Network-centric Manufacturing

Enter the Doyle Center for Manufacturing Technology, which provides small domestic manufacturing enterprises with state-of-the-art technology tools, training, quality orientation and responsiveness necessary to become vital contributors in the U.S. defense industry supply chain.  The Doyle Center calls this emerging paradigm Network-centric Manufacturing(SM), and it is defined at a high level as the continuous development of extended enterprises through cutting-edge applications of digital technology that enhance the speed, transparency, knowledge and confidence through which supply chains can be organized and managed.

Through its proprietary technology, the Doyle Center bridges the gaps or enhances linkages that exist between the supply chains key players, the DoD, defense industry prime contractors, original equipment manufacturers and small manufacturing enterprises.

Two significant forces that are shaping the future of manufacturing are the continuing digital revolution and the rapidly expanding global economy.  Together, they drive worldwide development and economic prosperity.  All enterprises, large and small, must be masters of these forces, if they are to succeed.

Digital technology and demands of a global enterprise are transforming traditional manufacturers and supply chains to create a future in which the most advanced products will be conceived, designed, developed and delivered through network-centric manufacturing.

Next-generation manufacturers will form complex teams of companies that cooperate with security and swiftness to develop and produce goods for the worlds most demanding and rewarding markets, thereby allowing them to compete better with their global competitors.

The Doyle Center forms these teams to develop, test and deploy technologies and support systems that enable robust participation in network-centric manufacturing by the countrys most talented small and medium-sized firms.  Participants in these teams include the DoD, defense prime contractors and their supply chains, progressive U.S.-based small and medium-sized manufacturers, national support centers (like the Manufacturing Extension Partnership under the Department of Commerce), university and laboratory researchers and software vendors involved in manufacturing management.


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