For the last 20 years, military logistics have become more efficient and more productive, and weapon systems have become more ready, in large part due to the DoD’s partnership with commercial industry. To protect our country and its allies, the DoD has looked to organizations such as NCMS and its proven CTMA Program to provide solutions to its equipment sustainment and maintenance needs. By leveraging the technical expertise of industry and the trusted relationship with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), CTMA has enabled industry to provide game-changing technologies to the military to fulfill its readiness commitments at home and abroad.
Twenty years ago, the DoD recognized the benefits of integrating the commercial industrial base into its research, development, and technology needs, especially in the areas of maintenance and sustainment. Access to new commercial technologies was limited to those provided through the traditional federal procurement process, which wasn’t always time sensitive, and was limited in scope and in the number of approved defense contractors and their suppliers. CTMA was founded to demonstrate —through selected pilot deployments involving the Defense Maintenance and Logistics Community—a wide range of emerging commercial manufacturing sustainment tools and best business practices that can have a substantial impact upon materiel readiness for the DoD.
“The relationship that has developed between NCMS, OSD, the Military Services, and industry over the last two decades has resulted in a CTMA Program that understands the needs of military sustainment operations, has clear insight into emerging technology, and has a streamlined process to introduce commercial capabilities of highest value to the DoD,” says Greg Kilchenstein, Director of Enterprise Maintenance Technology with the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Maintenance Policy & Programs. “NCMS has been an outstanding partner in this endeavor, doing much of the heavy lifting required to bring innovative technologies to the DoD maintenance community.”
This unique partnership began in 1998, when the program was established by the DoD. During that period, when CTMA was characterized as a “technology demonstrator”; approximately 30 percent of evaluated technologies actually transferred into maintenance operations. Today, CTMA is a sponsor-directed program and capabilities demonstrated under CTMA are adopted by DoD organizations approximately 90 percent of the time. Using a cooperative agreement (CA) tailored for streamlined technology evaluation, CTMAmanaged projects have an expedited 45-day cradle-to-CA award timespan.
“The benefit that NCMS and CTMA bring to the table is our capability to reach out to industry, government, and academia to fulfill DoD technology needs. The CTMA Program provides a government venue to demonstrate, validate, and evaluate innovative technologies prior to acquisition,” says Debbie Lilu, CTMA Program Director. “Our reach is ever-increasing. Over the last two decades we’ve collaborated with over 110 different defense installations operating in 27 states. Our industry partners have greatly benefited from these relationships.”
Technologies that make a difference Most new technologies fall into eight categories: Additive Manufacturing; Autonomic Processes; Business Processes/ Partnerships; Condition-Based Maintenance; Coatings/Corrosion Prevention; Energy Environment, Health & Safety; Enhanced Inspection; and Reliability Improvement. These technologies make the warfighter more prepared, safer, and ready to deploy. They cover everything from non-destructive inspection to oil analysis, anti-corrosive coatings to big data analysis, and electronic fault detection to water filtration.
U.S. industry has the technologies that answer need gaps and CTMA, with its unique CA, is the trusted vehicle to bring those technologies to light.
When the Air Force discovered that analyzing the condition of vehicle and aircraft oil in the field was almost impossible, they approached CTMA to help solve their problem. It was a perfect match. Spectro Scientific, an NCMS member, was working on the technology to do just that. “The
ability to determine if oil is still viable is of vital importance to the military. When aircraft oil breaks down, it could mean the need for a whole new engine. Technology transfer is what it’s all about,” says Robert Yurko, Vice President of Government Relations at Spectro Scientific. “Our company has the technology to analyze oil with one drop and almost instant results. But we didn’t know of the military’s need. CTMA has been our conduit to the DoD. We are a small company and [NCMS has] been able to open doors to DoD decision makers that it would have been nearly impossible for us to do.”
Because of the special cost-sharing arrangement, each party in the project has a stake in the execution and outcome. This unique investment element lowers the costs for R&D for both the DoD and industry, as well as conjoins them in the stakes of the enterprise.
Giving technologies a platform CTMA offers invitations to their members to present current technologies at conferences, competitions, technology showcases, and industry days, which are ideal for discussions on DoD requirements and the innovations that may answer those needs.
Conferences: Throughout the year NCMS/CTMA co-hosts member companies and emerging technologies at various high-profile conferences, providing a venue for cutting-edge technologists to gain face-time with some of our strategic partners within the DoD. The number and types of events evolve each year, always becoming new venues to showcase project participants.
Competitions: NCMS is active in supporting three annual competitions: The Maintenance Innovation Challenge (MIC)—in conjunction with the DoD Maintenance Symposium—the CTMA Technology Competition, and the Defense Maintenance Competition. Technology Showcases, Technical Interchange Meetings, and Industry Days: These events provide an opportunity for the government to directly interview targeted industries that have the technologies to answer specific government needs, often taking the technology to the maintainers in the field.
Through these and other activities, it is projected that the CTMA Program will have saved the government approximately $8 billion by 2023. And it isn’t just about saving funds; commercial technologies adopted by the DoD have garnered 17 awards for innovation.
“DoD needs to be cognizant of every sustainment dollar we spend, and how that investment effects readiness. CTMA provides us with the ability to continuously benchmark innovation as we seek efficiencies in order to realize cost savings across the Department. The U.S. has commitments all over the world, and those obligations are only increasing. By utilizing the expertise of the NCMS industry members, we can be ready for whatever and whoever needs us,” says Kilchenstein.
What our partners are saying “I believe that CTMA plays a critical role with interfacing the DoD and the commercial sector, especially those companies that don’t traditionally work with the DoD. These emerging technologies expand our aperture and are a critical component to the readiness of our warfighter,” says Colonel Howard K. Marotto II, Next Generation Logistics, Deputy Director, Additive Manufacturing and Innovation.
“Universal Synaptics Corporation has been a member of NCMS for the last eight years. Our experience has been nothing short of phenomenal! Everyone we’ve interacted with are the best of the best. Their business model positions them as a leader in technology transitions, technology awareness, and technology use. They are advocates for where our capabilities could be used within the government. I honestly don’t think we’d be doing what we’re doing today without CTMA,” says Ken Anderson, Vice President of Universal Synaptics