Yesterday I had the pleasure of e-mailing back and forth with Tony Haynes of the National Center for Manufacturing Science. The NCMS recently received a record 7th Department of Defense technology award for developing a super precise calibration process. The Volumetric Accuracy for Large Machine Tools (VALMT) project is projected to save the DOD millions annually by substantially reducing errors during production.
MFGSourcing: Tony, describe the NCMS to the un-initiated.
Tony Haynes: NCMS is the Consortium Administrative Organization for the Robotics Technology consortium and has an active Agreement with the Picatinny Army Arsenal and relationships with the DoD Joint Ground Robotics Enterprise. We have over two decades of experience in the formation and management of complex multi-partner cross-industry collaborative research and development (R&D) programs including:
- 178 Department of Defense (DoD)projects totaling $400 M
- 6 Department of Commerce (DOC) National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Technology Program (ATP) awards totaling $115 M
- 13 Department of Energy (DOE) projects totaling $64 M
- 10 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) projects totaling $7.7 M
- 2 Department of Transportation (DOT) programs totaling $2.5 M
- 7 State of Michigan projects totaling $1 M
The NCMS has won 7 Defense Manufacturing Excellence awards and 4 consecutive R&D 100 Awards.
The NCMS composites project “Affordable High-Rate Manufacturing of Vehicle-Scale Carbon Composite High-Pressure Hydrogen Storage Cylinders” won the JEC Composites Innovation Award, Paris, 2009, in the Transportation Category.
NCMS has negotiated more than 63 CRADAs or MOUs between Government and industry.
MFGSourcing: What’s your role with the organization?
Tony Haynes: My title is Director, Advanced Manufacturing Technology Programs but in addition to my Director role, I form and manage collaborative projects. VALMT was one of those. I also have projects at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Keyport Naval Underwater Warfare Center, and Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center.
MFG Sourcing: Congratulations on the DOD award. How did that come about?
Tony Haynes: As you can see from my brief intro to NCMS, we’ve won six prior DMEA awards. Every year we nominate our projects in terms of successful technology benefit and benefit to DoD. This makes our seventh award and that is a tribute to the hard work of our project teams and our project management expertise.
The VALMT project was funded through the Commercial Technologies for Maintenance Activities (CTMA) program, collaboration between NCMS and the Department of Defense which co-sponsors technology development, deployment and validation with DoD organic maintenance activities. You can find out more about CTMA at http://ctma.ncms.org.
MFGSourcing: How long was the VALMT under development and what major problem does it solve?
Tony Haynes: The project ran roughly 18 months and we are now creating the final report. The problem it solves is that the final assembly of very large structures like airplanes today requires excessive hand fitting because without precise calibration, the large machine tools that make ribs and spars can’t hold sufficient accuracy to pre-drill fastener holes that align properly, thereby forcing a lot careful measuring, use of shims, hand drilling fastener holes and so forth. The result is a lot of extra weight, time and cost. The VALMT technology and calibration process can be run in a shift versus the 2-3 weeks required for traditional methods so users can afford to check calibration often.
MFGSourcing: Will the technology be available to the DOD only or is it “open source” so to speak?
Tony Haynes: It is available commercially now.
MFGSourcing: Thanks so much for answering our questions today. If any of our readers want to find out more about implementing VALMT for their projects who should they contact?
Tony Haynes: The metrology system is available from Automated Precision, Inc. The system only works on machine tools with Siemens 840D CNC controllers. Contact Roger Hart at Siemens for more information. firstname.lastname@example.org
The kind of innovation that Tony and the team at NCMS are bringing to the table is exactly what the manufacturing industry in the U.S. needs. Saving millions through enhanced efficiency is a building block to substantially increased competitiveness on a global stage. To read more about the VALMT project and the other cool things going on at NCMS, head on over to their site!