|DoD Labs: A Key Contribution to the Defense Mission||https://www.dau.edu/library/defense-atl/Lists/Blog/DispForm.aspx?ID=224||DoD Labs: A Key Contribution to the Defense Mission||2021-04-06T16:00:00Z||https://wwwad.dauext.dau.mil/library/defense-atl/PublishingImages/DefAcq_Mar-April_2021_banner01.jpg, https://www.dau.edu/library/defense-atl/PublishingImages/DefAcq_Mar-April_2021_banner01.jpg
https://wwwad.dauext.dau.mil/library/defense-atl/PublishingImages/DefAcq_Mar-April_2021_banner01.jpg||<div class="ExternalClass12BABC35C1DE4CEC85EE0F9DA65A8CA6">One important way the Department of Defense (DoD) accomplishes its mission is by transferring its inventions to industry for final development and manufacture. This allows the U.S. military to leverage the innovative skills, financial resources, and rapid-response capabilities of the American private sector and benefit from discoveries in DoD’s own nationwide network of research and development labs.<br>
This article describes how transferring DoD lab inventions to industry benefits the U.S. defense mission. First, it provides a brief overview of technology transfer (T2). Then, it explains the various ways that license agreements (one of the major T2 mechanisms) directly support the defense mission. Next, it addresses how businesses and entrepreneurs find DoD lab inventions available for licensing. Finally, it highlights several examples of DoD lab-developed technologies that are now benefiting the U.S. Warfighter.
<h2>What Is Technology Transfer?</h2>
Technology transfer, in simple terms, is the exchange of technology between the public and private sectors. This exchange can flow in either direction—for example, from a DoD lab to a company, or vice versa. Alternatively, new technology can be collaboratively developed by a DoD lab and a company for their respective applications. However it occurs, T2 clearly assists DoD with its defense mission.<br>
The prevailing guidance for DoD T2 is summarized in Directive 5535.03: “Domestic T2 activities are integral elements of...the DoD national security mission. ... T2 supports a strong industrial base that the Department of Defense may utilize to supply DoD needs. Those activities must have a high-priority role in all DoD acquisition programs and are recognized as a key activity of the DoD laboratories and all other DoD activities (such as test, logistics, and product centers and depots and arsenals).”<br>
DoD has a comprehensive suite of T2 mechanisms to enable partnering with industry. Of these, license agreements are one of the most important. DoD frequently patents inventions made by its approximately 35,000 scientists and engineers. The 65 or so major DoD research facilities nationwide generate approximately 600 patented inventions a year in virtually all technology areas. Through the use of license agreements, many of these inventions, along with certain unpatented inventions (such as software and biological materials), are transferred to industry.<br>
License agreements enable companies to transform DoD inventions into new products that support the defense mission and benefit the U.S. economy. They are used when companies intend to produce so-called “dual use” technologies (which have both military and commercial applications), products that have strictly commercial uses, or products for sale to friendly U.S. military allies. License agreements are not needed when companies produce DoD inventions exclusively for U.S. Government use.
<h2>Supporting the Defense Mission</h2>
License agreements support the defense mission in several essential ways. First, unless DoD lab inventions are transferred to industry, they are not likely to be put into operational use. DoD is not in the business of manufacturing equipment, weapons, and supplies. Instead, it needs to transfer its inventions to companies for conversion into new products that the U.S. military can procure.<br>
Second, license agreements provide a cost-effective way to get new technology to the U.S. Warfighter. Only a minor part of the cost of a new product is the expense of developing the underlying technology to the patent stage. By licensing its inventions to industry, DoD is able to offload the very substantial costs of transforming early-stage technologies or lab-bench prototypes into new defense-related products. Industry covers the majority of the product development costs. The alternative—contracting with a defense contractor for custom design and production of a defense-related product—is usually far more expensive.<br>
Third, license agreements leverage industry’s capabilities in developing and maturing technologies. While universities and federal labs conduct most basic research in the United States, industry undertakes the majority of the nation’s applied research and advanced technology development. License agreements harness industry’s capability to help get DoD inventions into the hands of the U.S. Warfighter in a timely way.<br>
Fourth, license agreements reduce the cost and improve the supply chain for military products that also have civilian applications. Often, the commercial market for “dual use” technologies is larger and more continuous than the military market, which waxes and wanes in direct response to the ebb and flow of military operations. Commercial sales enabled by licensing create economies of scale that reduce DoD’s procurement costs. In addition, ongoing commercial sales help sustain the defense industrial base and ensure a more reliable supply of the military versions of these products.<br>
Finally, license agreements engage innovative, agile companies that are not traditional defense contractors. Most DoD licensing partners are small or medium-size businesses that have not previously interacted with the DoD. Many are highly innovative and entrepreneurial. Their capabilities strengthen the U.S. defense mission. Licensing its inventions to these companies enables DoD to expand its industrial base to innovative, nontraditional defense contractors.
<h2>How Businesses Find and License DoD Inventions</h2>
How do businesses find DoD inventions available for licensing? Some DoD labs list available inventions on their websites, promote them at trade shows, or send out technology availability announcements. However, the majority of DoD license agreements occur through the brokering efforts of TechLink, DoD’s national T2 partnership intermediary. Since 2000, TechLink has helped DoD labs establish more than 850 license agreements with industry. It currently facilitates or brokers nearly 80 percent of DoD license agreements. TechLink’s activities are funded through a line item in the annual Air Force research, development, test and evaluation budget.<br>
To help companies and entrepreneurs find DoD inventions available for licensing, TechLink manages the only public-access, continuously updated database of all active DoD patents, accessible at <a href="https://techlinkcenter.org">techlinkcenter.org</a>. Entities seeking licensing opportunities can search this database by keywords, technology area, and DoD lab. The database provides the platform for TechLink’s nationwide marketing of DoD inventions. This involves targeted outreach to industry and the use of social media to promote specific licensing opportunities, communicate licensing success stories, and build awareness of the DoD lab system as a major source of innovation.<br>
Using this platform, TechLink identifies qualified companies and entrepreneurs interested in licensing DoD inventions. It subsequently helps them with their license applications and commercialization plans, to ensure they fully meet federal government requirements. In parallel, TechLink helps DoD labs develop effective licensing strategies. The goal is to maximize the benefits of their inventions. More generally, TechLink is helping DoD expand its use of T2 authorities to provide even greater impacts on the defense mission and U.S. economy.<br>
Once prospective licensees have applied for a license, TechLink remains involved in the ensuing negotiations as an objective, third-party facilitator or “honest broker.” This helps reach mutually acceptable agreements and increases the likelihood of practical application of the DoD inventions.
The following are three representative examples of technologies developed in DoD labs—one each from the Army, Navy, and Air Force—that were successfully transferred to industry and subsequently converted into products supporting the U.S. defense mission. All three are also benefiting the national economy and/or improving the lives of American citizens. The inset box summarizes still more examples of successfully transferred DoD lab inventions.
<h3><img alt="A soldier with a STORM 2 rifle-mounted laser rangefinder. U.S. Army photo" src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Mar-April_2021/MarApr2021_article01_image01.jpg" style="margin-left:3px;margin-right:3px;float:left;width:358px;height:200px;" />(1) New miniature laser resonator for rangefinders/target designators</h3>
To reduce the size, weight, and cost of laser rangefinders and target designators, enabling their use on individual soldier weapons, the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, C5ISR Center, Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (Fort Belvoir, Virginia), invented a small monoblock laser resonator. This invention combines several laser components into a single strong structure (“monoblock”) that produces short-pulse, eye-safe lasers. Most notably, it is able to operate in harsh environments and withstand enormous shocks, such as those generated by the weapon systems to which the monoblock lasers are attached.<br>
After this novel laser was patented, the Army licensed it to Scientific Materials Corporation (Bozeman, Montana), which used its unique capabilities to manufacture the needed laser crystals and components for use in the U.S. Army’s Small Tactical Optical Rifle Mounted (STORM) Micro Laser Rangefinder (MLRF). Subsequently, Scientific Materials was acquired by FLIR Systems (Wilsonville, Oregon), the world’s largest designer and manufacturer of thermal imaging cameras, components, and imaging sensors.<br>
The Army laser invention now is widely deployed throughout the U.S. military on weapon systems ranging from special operator rifles to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), attack helicopters, and armored fighting vehicles. NASA also uses this laser to assist docking on the International Space Station. Commercially, the monoblock laser is used in flash lidar systems for various 3D mapping and
<h3>(2) Communication systems interference minimizer and clarity enhancer</h3>
The Air Force Research Laboratory, 711th Human Performance Wing (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio), developed and patented a unique spatial processor to address an operator problem in command and control centers throughout the U.S. military. The challenge involves monitoring multiple, often overlapping conversations and making split-second decisions based on what is heard. The Air Force invented a device that creates the sensation that the multiple voices being monitored come from different spatial locations. This optimally differentiates these voices, making them more readily understandable and reducing operator stress and fatigue. The invention allows operators to effectively monitor five to eight conversations at once, compared to a maximum of three without the technology.<br>
<img alt="U.S. Army soldiers in 613th Air and Space Operations Center at Hickam Air Force Base. U.S. Air Force photo " src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Mar-April_2021/MarApr2021_article01_image02.jpg" style="margin-left:3px;margin-right:3px;float:right;width:300px;height:200px;" />The Air Force licensed this unique spatial processor to Compunetix (Monroeville, Pennsylvania), a leading developer and manufacturer of digital collaboration systems. The company used the invention to develop state-of-the-art voice communications systems designed specifically for mission control centers.<br>
Today, these systems are widely used for mission-critical operations by all branches of the U.S. military. In addition, they are used by NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, Drug Enforcement Agency, Centers for Disease Control, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other federal agencies. Outside the U.S. Government, these spatial processors are used by oil, gas, and power companies; airlines, railroads, and mass transit organizations; and major manufacturers needing to monitor large-scale industrial processes.
<h3>(3) Detection kit for improvised explosive devices</h3>
The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (Indian Head, Maryland) developed a deceptively simple invention to address one of the most challenging problems in modern warfare—the constant threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are deployed using roadside bombs, car bombs, or suicide vests. One reason for their prevalence is that IEDs can be made using low-tech methods and readily available materials. To counter this threat, the Navy invented a simple, rapid, low-cost way to detect the basic energetic materials used in IEDs. These “explosive precursors” include ammonium nitrate, urea nitrate, potassium chlorate, and sodium chlorate.<br>
<img alt="U.S. troops using explosive detection kit in Afghanistan. U.S. Central Command photo, courtesy of American Innovations, Inc." src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Mar-April_2021/MarApr2021_article01_image03.jpg" style="margin-left:3px;margin-right:3px;float:left;width:380px;height:200px;" />In areas where IEDs are prevalent, such as Afghanistan, these materials, although illegal, flow freely through the local economy and are difficult to detect. They are easily disguised as bags of cement, sugar, flour, or other bulk goods. Also, they are difficult to differentiate from legal fertilizer materials. Further complicating matters, combat zones often are highly contaminated with explosive residues, making trace-detection methods, such as the sample swabs used in U.S. airports, virtually useless.<br>
The Navy invention enables an easy rapid test that requires little training: a pea-sized sample of a suspected explosive material is placed in a test tube containing a small amount of water, the tube is shaken, and a test strip is inserted into the tube. If the test strip turns red or purple within 5 seconds, nitrate is present. If it remains white, a different test strip is combined with a reagent to test for chlorate, which turns the strip blue or black within 10 seconds if this chemical compound is present.<br>
This Navy invention was licensed to American Innovations, Inc. (Monsey, New York), which used it to produce the Bulk Homemade Explosives (HME) Precursor Detection Kit, known as AiHME. Each AiHME kit is able to perform 33 full detection tests and has a shelf life of at least three years. It weighs only 6 ounces, and can be strapped onto Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment or attached to a belt. The kit comes with simple illustrated instructions in 25 languages, including Dari, Pashtu, Arabic, Somali, and Urdu, to enable use by partner-nation security forces. The AiHME kit is credited with detecting 440 tons of illegal IED component materials in Afghanistan in 2012 alone. By helping collapse the supply-chain for IED source materials, this Navy lab invention has substantially increased safety in conflict areas for U.S. troops, coalition forces, and civilians.
<h3>Other Successfully Transferred DoD Lab Inventions</h3>
<li>Rapidly deployable port security barrier (PSB) to protect valuable assets within a harbor area from attack by explosives-laden watercraft traveling at high speeds. This innovative, cost-effective PSB was developed by the Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (Port Hueneme, California) in response to the attack on the USS Cole. It subsequently was exclusively licensed to Truston Technologies, now Oceanetics (Annapolis, Maryland). The company has extensively installed PSBs at Navy installations worldwide. Other customers include the U.S. Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and commercial port facilities.</li>
<li>Geospatial application for smartphones called ATAK developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory, Information Directorate (Rome, New York). ATAK displays an interactive layered map showing the location of team members and other critical positions, and enables information-sharing from multiple communication sources. ATAK now is used throughout the U.S. military, particularly by special operator teams, as well as by first responders, law enforcement, and the recreational industry. It has been licensed to more than 100 companies.</li>
<li>Next-generation tool for DNA analysis developed by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory—DoD’s only full-service forensic laboratory, now part of the Defense Forensic Science Center (Forest Park, Georgia). This unique software-based system enables rapid analysis of the DNA of up to three people in a single biological sample. The Army exclusively licensed the system to NicheVision Forensics (Akron, Ohio), which used it to develop a product called ArmedXpert, now used worldwide in crime laboratories.</li>
<li>Innovative metal coatings developed by the Naval Air Warfare Center, Aircraft Division (Patuxent River, Maryland) that prevent corrosion, increase paint cohesion, and meet strict environmental regulations. These metal coatings have been licensed to multiple major paint and coating manufacturers. They are used extensively for U.S. military aircraft, UAVs, marine vessels, and ground vehicles, saving the DoD hundreds of millions of dollars per year in maintenance costs. These Navy-developed coatings also are used on hundreds of consumer products.</li>
<li>Attenuating Custom Communication Earpiece System (ACCES), which was developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory 711th Human Performance Wing (Wright- Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio) in collaboration with Westone Laboratories (Colorado Springs, Colorado). ACCES was developed to optimize hearing protection for pilots while providing clear communications in high-noise environments. The Air Force subsequently exclusively licensed ACCES to Westone, which has developed an improved product that is widely used by both air and ground crews. By reducing noise by an average of 30 A-weighted decibels (dBAs), ACCES has significantly reduced the cost of treatment and disability for hearing loss.</li>
<li>Shock-absorbing concrete known as SACON, developed by the U.S. Army Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (Vicksburg, Mississippi) for use in firing ranges and targeted structures. This unique, fiber-reinforced concrete absorbs bullets and hand-grenade fragments and eliminates ricochets, greatly increasing safety during live-fire exercises. In addition, by trapping the lead from munitions, SACON substantially reduces the costs of hazardous waste disposal and environmental remediation. SACON has been licensed to multiple companies and is widely used in constructing live-fire training facilities for the U.S. military, National Guard, law enforcement personnel, and commercial shooting ranges.</li>
<img alt="Next-generation DNA analysis is just one of the many developments by DoD Labs." src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Mar-April_2021/MarApr2021_article01_image04.jpg" style="width:655px;height:200px;margin-left:3px;margin-right:3px;" />
<hr />Cusker is executive director of TechLink, DoD’s national technology transfer partnership intermediary. He retired as a colonel in the U.S. Air Force in 2016.<br>
Leach, TechLink’s associate director, oversees the organization’s technology licensing program for the DoD laboratory system. He has a PhD in materials science and engineering.<br>
Swearingen, TechLink’s senior advisor, served as TechLink’s executive director from 2000 to 2018. He has a PhD in geography.<br>
The authors can be contacted at <a class="ak-cke-href" href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>, <a class="ak-cke-href" href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>; <a class="ak-cke-href" href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.</div>||string;#/library/defense-atl/blog/A-Key-Contribution-to-the-Defense-Mission|
|Selecting Alternate Grade Parts The Trials and Tribulations||https://www.dau.edu/library/defense-atl/Lists/Blog/DispForm.aspx?ID=229||Selecting Alternate Grade Parts The Trials and Tribulations||2021-03-30T16:00:00Z||https://wwwad.dauext.dau.mil/library/defense-atl/PublishingImages/DefAcq_Mar-April_2021_banner06.jpg, https://www.dau.edu/library/defense-atl/PublishingImages/DefAcq_Mar-April_2021_banner06.jpg
https://wwwad.dauext.dau.mil/library/defense-atl/PublishingImages/DefAcq_Mar-April_2021_banner06.jpg||<div class="ExternalClassC36EFCD8479E40E8A5801CFFFD33F206"><img alt="An Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, inspects aircraft landing gear. U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua J. Seybert" src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Mar-April_2021/MarApr2021_article06_image1.jpg" style="margin-left:3px;margin-right:3px;float:left;width:300px;height:621px;" />Selecting a new or replacement alternate-grade part, such as an automotive grade connector for a military or aerospace system, can be tricky. The best approach would use an already qualified, approved, and preferred part with known reliability and longevity characteristics. However, with lengthening life cycles for military systems, rapid technology development, materiel shortages, and other factors, replacements may be needed for parts that are no longer in production or otherwise available. Given this situation, employing established parts management and diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages (DMSMS) management procedures can assist in finding and selecting alternate-grade parts to fit a system’s need.
<h3>The Market Evolution</h3>
The commercial parts market—especially the commercial electronics market, has changed dramatically over the last several decades—creating the need and the opportunity for designers and manufacturers to consider alternate-grade parts in military systems. When the DoD led the electronics market, the automotive and aircraft industries and others with special requirements turned to military-grade parts requiring high reliability, high-temperature resistance, hermetic sealing, robust mechanical strength, vibration resistance, and other qualities needed for operating under severe environmental stress.<br>
In the 1940s, government demand largely drove the growth of development and manufacturing for the electronics industry. Beginning in the 1970s, the demand for electronic components shifted with the advent of industry automation and computers for business use. The commercial electronic industry further evolved in the 1990s, from demand for personal computers, mobile phones, and other consumer electronics.<br>
The electronics business evolved from business-to-government, to business-to-business, and now to business-to-individual relationships. Military and space customers no longer have major influence. According to the 2019 Semiconductor Industry Association Factbook, government accounts for 1 percent of the semiconductor market, automotive and industrial buyers were 24 percent, and the remaining 75 percent of the market went to consumer products, such as smartphones and personal computers. Cellphones and tablet computers drive the electronics industry, so that cost, time to market, and volume production are keys to competitiveness. Systems needing long-lasting components are in the minority. The shorter life cycles of electronic components designed for the individual consumer market contribute to obsolescence issues for military equipment and systems.<br>
In the past, automotive and industrial customers looked to the defense market. Today, the automotive and industrial electronics market, with its greater demand, offers the defense market an alternative for effectively sourcing electronic parts. The requirements for parts designed and manufactured for the automotive industry and other industrial operations are closer to the requirements for defense systems and offer less risk than the parts manufactured by the consumer product market.
<h3>What Is an Alternate-Grade Part?</h3>
An alternate-grade part is designed and manufactured for non-DoD applications, is not documented by military-unique specifications or drawings, and is not manufactured specifically to meet military requirements, leading to wide variation among commercial applications and the associated performance requirements and operating environments.<br>
Outside the consumer product segment, a wide variety of parts are designed and manufactured to meet more rigorous requirements and function reliably under stressful operating conditions. Aviation, automotive, industrial plant, and medical devices have applications that may require greater performance and quality, and face more demanding environmental conditions. In addition, the rapid increase of electronics content in automotive applications creates a significant opportunity to leverage the greater choice and availability of electronic functions that can meet many military applications. In some cases, the established standards for quality and performance for these applications can be used to evaluate part acceptability for a specific design requirement.<br>
Table 1 shows a few common differences among varying applications of commercial electronic parts compared to parts designed specifically for space or military applications. Environmental stresses refer to operational temperatures, vibration, radiation exposure, and operation in harsh geographic conditions, such as salt spray, sand, and high altitudes. In addition to the physical difference, the markets for these applications differ greatly in demand, production volume, and pricing.
<h3>Potential benefits of alternate-grade part</h3>
The competitiveness of the commercial market for parts and customer demand drives technological advances, such as enhanced performance, decreased size and weight, and increased quality and reliability, especially for electronic components, which have experienced a great increase in application and demand in recent decades. By tapping the commercial market, DoD accesses newer and improved technology in state-of-the-art parts.<br>
However, selecting new technologies has trade-offs. DoD Standardization Document 22 (SD-22), Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages Guide, notes that new technologies can deliver an important defense capability more effectively but care must be taken to balance performance and reliability when employing new technologies.<br>
<strong>Better availability </strong><br>
The commercial market offers access to a larger supplier base of commercial manufacturers. In most cases, the size of the commercial market for parts dwarfs the defense-unique market. Over time, due to low demand, manufacturers may stop producing defense-unique parts. This causes parts to become obsolete or unavailable to meet defense sustainment requirements, resulting in back orders and system downtime. The larger commercial market can increase parts availability and reduce lead times, especially for replacement parts.<br>
SD-22 furnishes the example of selecting field-programmable gate arrays instead of application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). This choice enables purchasing of much larger quantities of a part type and thereby results in volume discounts, improved factory support, and reduced development cycle time and cost. However, the lower power and higher performance for an ASIC part designed for a specific task may be desirable where the volume or performance justifies ASIC development. Furthermore, since the commercial market can be more volatile than the defense market, parts may become obsolete sooner.<br>
<strong>Reduced cost </strong><br>
Defense-unique parts, manufactured to military specifications, are produced in relatively small quantities and must comply with costly defense requirements for manufacturing, qualification, and testing. Commercial parts, produced in large quantities and competitively priced, offer potential cost reduction for defense systems.
<table border="1" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width:700px;">
<caption>Table 1. Standard Operating Environment for Electronic Parts Designed for Commercial Versus Military Applications</caption>
<td style="text-align:center;"><strong>Part application</strong></td>
<td style="text-align:center;"><strong>Operational temp. range</strong></td>
<td style="text-align:center;"><strong>Performance and quality assurance standards</strong></td>
<td style="text-align:center;"><strong>Relative level of environmental stress </strong></td>
<td style="text-align:center;">−55° to 125°C</td>
<td style="text-align:center;">AIAA, NASA, and<br>
Endorsed Military Standards</td>
<td style="text-align:center;">−55° to 125°C</td>
<td style="text-align:center;">Military Standards</td>
<td style="text-align:center;">−40° to 125°C</td>
<td style="text-align:center;">AEC Q Series</td>
<td style="text-align:center;">−40° to 85°C</td>
<td style="text-align:center;">Industry Specific</td>
<td style="text-align:center;">Consumer Products</td>
<td style="text-align:center;">0° to 70°C</td>
<td style="text-align:center;">Manufacturer Established</td>
AEC = Automotive Electronics Council; AIAA = American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics;<br>
NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration.<br>
Source: The authors.
<h3>Selecting an Alternate-Grade Part</h3>
According to SD-19, Parts Management Guidebook, there several factors to consider in deciding on an alternate-grade part (see Figure 1). Specifically, an in-house parts selection process should be established for the parts management representative, the Parts Management Board, or a parts-selection integrated program team to follow and document.<br>
Other factors to address include the following:
<li>Part reliability and availability. Will the alternate part work when needed, and will it perform as well as and for as long as needed?</li>
<li>Mission and part criticality. Using alternate-grade parts instead of military-grade parts might be appropriate in certain defense applications if the mission and application for these products can tolerate reduced short-term or long-term quality or reliability.</li>
<li>Operating and storage environment. Parts that function properly in normal environments may not perform adequately in space under extreme radiation, pressure, vibration, and temperatures. Likewise, a part intended for a dry environment may not perform adequately in a wet and corrosive marine environment. Parts stored in extreme environments without temperature control or monitoring may be unusable when needed.</li>
<li>Specific application in the system. A lower-grade part may be adequate for the job based on an evaluation of mission requirements.</li>
<li>Availability of testing and usage data. If adequate testing and qualification data are available from the manufacturer, it may be easy to assess the potential use of an alternate part. For example, evaluation can be easier for military uses of a part supported by manufacturer test data of failure rates and performance data, along with methods for excluding parts with defects, weak parts, and counterfeit parts. An example is parts certified by the Automotive Electronics Council (AEC).</li>
<li>Accepted standards. Does testing show an alternate part meets (or doesn’t meet) accepted standards, such as mechanical, electrical, and environmental tests detailing part materials, design, and performance, as well as the parts reliability to meet the system requirements?</li>
<li>Cost-benefit analysis. Part qualification and testing have an associated cost but may prove worth the investment, depending the criticality of the part.</li>
<strong>To maximize standardization and reduce life-cycle costs, alternate-grade parts should be selected based on the order of preference list in Military Standard 3018, “Parts Management”:</strong>
<li>Parts required to meet government regulatory requirements</li>
<li>Parts that are readily available within the DoD system, have projected continued usage within DoD, and have a documented technical description available to DoD and industry</li>
<li>Industry standard parts from DoD-adopted non-government standards</li>
<li>Military and other government standard parts</li>
<li>Industry standard parts from other non-government standards</li>
<li>Commonly available manufacturers’ part numbers from catalogs and component manufacturer drawings</li>
<li>Other (e.g., parts documented on source control drawings, selected item drawings, and altered item drawings)</li>
<img alt="Figure 1. Alternate-Grade Part Selection" src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Mar-April_2021/MarApr2021_article06_figure1.jpg" style="margin-left:3px;margin-right:3px;float:left;width:400px;height:229px;" /><strong>Part qualification</strong> tests a sample of parts from a single production line to verify compliance with performance requirements and validate production process controls.<br>
<strong>Part screening </strong>tests every part for conformance to performance requirements and removes parts that fail or show defects indicating potential failure.<br>
<strong>Part derating </strong>reduces stress or makes qualitative allowances for a part’s functional degradation to ensure that it will not be exposed to more stress than it can withstand.<br>
<strong>Part uprating </strong>assesses the ability of a part to meet performance requirements when the part is used outside of the manufacturer’s specified temperature range.
Additional measures can reduce the risk from using alternate-grade parts by ensuring reliability and performance in the intended application. These measures may be part-oriented, such as part qualification, screening, derating, and uprating to ensure that the part meets the specific, intended application.<br>
Effective measures can come from process changes, such as planning for more frequent part refreshes, building in redundancy, and furnishing additional insulation against environmental extremes. Another method uses existing standards—e.g., AEC-Q specifications—to predict performance and reliability.<br>
<img alt="Maintenance is performed on an unmanned aircraft system. Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Andrew McNeil" src="/library/defense-atl/DATLFiles/Mar-April_2021/MarApr2021_article06_image2.jpg" style="margin-left:3px;margin-right:3px;float:left;width:500px;height:251px;" />The additional overall part acquisition cost and time of implementing such measures must be weighed against the benefits of using an alternate-grade part, which can be considerable. Beyond the potential cost savings, an alternate-grade part may offer improved technology or a value-added reduction in size and weight and may be more readily available from a larger supplier base than a military-grade part, supplying future reductions in lead times and costs.
<hr />Acknowledgments: The authors thank their colleagues who reviewed this article, including Greg Saunders, Director, Defense Standardization Program Office (DSPO); Robin Brown, Parts Management and DMSMS Program Manager, DSPO; Brian Mansir, Senior Consultant, LMI; David Locker, Supervisor, Electronic Parts/Processes Technology, Army Futures Command; Tracy Daubenspeck, Operations Lead, Obsolescence Management Division, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport Division; and Sultan Ali Lilani, Integra Technologies, Director, Technical Support.
<hr />Greinke is a senior consultant at LMI, where he supports the Defense Standardization Program Office in Department of Defense (DoD) parts and Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages management, strategic objective planning and execution, process improvement, knowledge portals, case studies, and training. He has more than 35 years of experience in a wide range of subjects, including U.S. military operations, parts management, DoD programming and budgeting, science and technology studies and experimentation, international armaments cooperation, and intelligence analysis.<br>
Metz is a senior consultant at LMI, supporting the Defense Standardization Program Office and the Defense Logistics Agency. She has more than 35 years of experience in DoD logistics, specializing in product data management, quality assurance, material standardization, parts management, counterfeit prevention, and acquisition of commercial items.<br>
The authors may be contacted through <a class="ak-cke-href" href="mailto:Robin.Brown@dla.mil">Robin.Brown@dla.mil</a>.</div>||string;#/library/defense-atl/blog/Selecting-Alternate-Grade-Parts-The-Trials-and-Tribulations|