Everyone in the industry knows there is a whole range of opportunities to manufacture textile products for the military, but there’s also a lot of frustration around how to do it. Central Michigan University and Maureen MacGillivray, Ph.D., among others, are taking part in a military initiative to help level the playing field so companies, no matter what their size, can respond. This program is third in a series of MUST (Military Uniform System Technology) R&D programs sponsored by The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) in an effort to improve the R&D and procurement process through all of the supply chain segments. It’s aimed at building a knowledge base of product specifications using a common language.
MUST will reverse the usual procurement process, giving manufacturers the opportunity to get into the DLA supply pipeline before contracts and specifications are issued. By giving the military access to information about the most up-to-date and innovative products available, the new system is designed to shorten the time between design and fulfillment by up to 12-18 months. It should also reduce the number of competing specs between the services, create new synergy between the military and the specialty fabrics industry, and ensure that troops will be outfitted with the best gear quickly and efficiently.
MacGillivray is working with the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) to gather information from military textile manufacturers for the database. “It shouldn’t just be the big players who get to produce for the military. Everyone should have a chance,” she says. “Currently, understanding the military specifications is extremely complex. A lot of times a company will look at the specs and not participate because they’re too hard to understand. So what we need are those companies that make fabrics and accessories that could potentially be used by the military to put their information into the system so we can create the knowledge base, which will make the process easier for everyone. There’s funding out there for manufacturers of military textiles, and this will help them take advantage of it.”
The initial demonstration and proof of concept of MUST is being tested and validated over the next six months—to show how the specialty fabrics industry can provide credible, timely and accurate information to the U.S. military. Dr. MacGillivray, chair of IFAI’s Advanced Textile Products Division, is working with IFAI and service provider AdvanTech to develop and populate a database of companies and products that could be considered by DLA and DOD. This is the first project for IFAI’s Military Division, offering excellent potential for companies to work together on something with the potential to greatly expand access to the military market.
The MUST demonstration will work only if there is good participation and support from the industry. All information provided will be protected by three layers of security, in a well-tested process. If your company supplies fabric, uniforms, cold or hot weather gear, workout clothing, back packs, sleeping bags, equipment covers and bags, tents, fasteners, webbing, zippers or other products in demand by the military, whether Berry-compliant or not, please visit the website and enter your product information.