Archive for the ‘acquisition strategy’ Category

US Defense Bill to Supports Made in USA

February 9, 2017

Fabric rolls IDEX.jpgFrom the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO),which represents domestic textile manufacturers, the Senate’s 92-7 vote to pass Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) according to NCTO President & CEO Auggie Tantillo is “a good bill.”  Tantillo says of the bill “It supports American troops, strengthens our national security, and includes many provisions important to the US textile industry.”

The Department of Defense (DOD) sourced roughly $1.5 billion (USD) in textiles and clothing in 2016. Textiles fall under the buy-American procurement provision known as the Berry Amendment. The Berry Amendment (10 U.S.C. 2533a) requires the Department of Defense to buy textiles and clothing made with 100% United States content and labor.

berry-amendment-berry-compliant-bootsThe FY 2017 NDAA conference report reflects several other positive outcomes for the US based textiles industry. (1) no increase to the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT). Procurements in excess of the SAT require compliance with the Berry Amendment. The SAT level is $ 150,000. If the SAT threshold were increased, contracts might be awarded to international bidders and a lose for US industry. (2) the athletic footwear voucher program that has been in place for decades ended. Now the works begins to ensure all athletic footwear purchased by DoD is Berry-compliant. (3) DoD and the State Department procurement officials have been directed to provide key congressional defense and foreign relations committees updates on how each department is making efforts to ensure US manufacturers are aware of procurement opportunities relating equipping foreign security forces. Information source: http://www.ncto.org

For the complete details please visit http://www.innovationintextiles.com/industry-talk/new-us-defence-bill-to-support-made-in-usa-products/utm_content=47764882&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin#sthash.8yKW5WZO.dpuf

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Mechanisms of Fabric Failure

December 5, 2016
img_2563

Photo Jonathan Long

Fabric fibers that wear out fast, make garments that fail faster.  Working within the Protective Products and Equipment (PPE) industry, we are inundated with data, test procedures (whether ISO or ASTM or AATCC), and if honest, scratch our heads to understand how data and test procedures can be used to predict future performance. To add complexity, in many cases the ISO and ATSM test methods do not directly correlate because the test apparatus are different.

 

We all know humans are good at measuring things and textile engineers are no exception and excel in this area! If we can develop a scientific test to measure how one type of fiber or fabric performs to another; we are happy. For instance, we are pretty good at measuring several independent elements of textile performance one being fiber tensile strength. We then can compare the results from one fiber to another and claim victorious insight. However in looking at staple fibers which are blended for better performance

nylon-staple-fiber

Photo Jonathan Long

like those found in military uniforms, there are a couple of things that impact strength. Once we compound fibers with other natural or synthetic fibers during the spinning process strength changes. One fiber’s performance shouldn’t be the final determination of how that yarn will perform or how that fabric once woven will perform. However, tensile strength is important (photo NYLON Fiber)

 

To measure tensile strength, common test methods used in the Technical Military Fabrics worlds you find are ASTM D5034-09(2013) Standard Test Method for Breaking Strength and Elongation of Textile Fabrics (Grab) or Test Method D3822 Standard Test Method for Tensile Properties of Single Textile Fibers. While these tests are great for comparing fibers and fabrics I am not sure they really tell the whole performance story. We rely on tests to predict which fabric will perform better in a military environment where fabric failure from rips and tears in high abrasion areas such as the knees, elbows, and seat are common. Tensile strength alone may not answer that question but is the most common place to start.

fiber-micronWhat we do know about tensile strength (or think w do) is that its related to “abrasion resistance” (stated as the number of cycles on a machine, using a technique to produce abrasion) and “durability” (here defined as the ability to withstand deterioration or wearing out a garment fabric in use which includes the effects of abrasion) (1). Higher tensile strength is often thought to indicate better abrasion and durability performance.

In addition to tensile strength we want to measure abrasion and there are three dominant tests.

  1. Martindale Abrasion (ASTM D4966) This test method covers the determination of the martindale-testing-credit-association-contract-textilesabrasion resistance of textile fabrics abraded against crossbred, worsted wool fabric. Fabric samples to be mounted flat and rubbed in an enlarging elliptical T shape using a piece of worsted wool cloth as the abrading material. The end is reached when two yarn breaks occur or when there is an appreciable change in shade or appearance.
  2. Tabor Abrasion (ASTM D4060) This test method covers the determination of the abrasion resistance of organic coatings to abrasion produced by the Tabor Abrader on coatings applied to a plane, rigid surface, such as a metal panel.
  3. Wyzenbeek (ASTM D4157) This test method covers the determination of the abrasion wyzenbeek-test-machine-credit-association-contract-textilesresistance of woven textile fabrics using oscillatory cylinder tester. The Wyzenbeek testing process requires samples of the test fabric to be pulled taut in a frame and held stationary. Individual test specimens cut from the warp and weft directions are then rubbed back and forth using an ACT approved #10 cotton duck fabric as the abradant. The end is reached when two yarn breaks occur or when appreciable wear is reached.

Note to product developers and evaluation teams – both test methods are limited to measuring flat abrasion resistance of a textile. Soldiers are fully three dimensional so these tests don’t consider edge abrasion or other types of surface wear that may occur in soldier uniform applications.

Fibers have different tensile strength but they also have different elongation characteristics. When considering fiber properties, fiber tenacity should not be viewed in isolation. Fiber elongation is at least as important –  why?  If a fiber cant stretch and recover somewhat, that fiber will break sooner than one that has elongation. Elongation is specified as a percentage of the starting length. The elastic elongation is important since textile products without elasticity would hardly be useable. They must be able to deform and return to shape (2).

fiber-elongation

Photo INTECH

My thoughts about selecting the optimal fabrics and fiber for military technical fabrics are that we should focus more on the mechanisms of failure. How does a fabric fail? I think we can rightly see that a fiber’s tensile strength is critical but so is a fabrics resistance to abrasion – maybe these two measurements can tell us which fabrics are likely to be the most “durable.”

How does failure actually happen? Its related to how a yarn and fabric’s structure is

fibre-rupture-abdullah-et-al-2006

Photo Abdullah 2006

modified in use. Lets face it – a fabric that is never used will last a long, long time so its something in use that wears a fabric out. In terms of wear mechanism in textiles, abrasion first modifies the fabric surface and then affects the internal structure of the fabric, damaging it (Manich et.al, 2001; Kaloğlu et al., 2003). Good abrasion resistance depends more on a high energy of rupture than on high tenacity at break. Abrasion is not influenced so much by the energy absorbed in the first deforming process (total energy of rupture), as by the activity absorbed during repeated deformation. This activity is manifested in the “elastic energy” or the “recoverable portion” of the total energy. Thus, to prevent abrasion damage, the material must be capable of absorbing energy and releasing that energy upon the removal of load (3).

The mechanical properties and dimensions of the fibers are important for abrasion. Fiber type, fiber fineness and fiber length are the main parameters that affect abrasion. Fibers with high elongation, elastic recovery and work of rupture have a good ability to withstand repeated distortion; so a good degree of abrasion resistance is achieved. Nylon is generally considered to have the best abrasion resistance, followed by polyester, polypropylene (Hu, 2008) (4).

cotton-polymer-yarn-detail-v2

Photo Jonathan Long

 

Something to think about is what is the optimal mix between fiber tensile strength and elongation and understanding how that mix performs during abrasion testing. If we find that higher tensile strength and greater elongation results in a more abrasion resistant fabric then we can add another test method to our toolbox to provide insight in failure prediction.  Fabrics with lower yarn tensile strength and lower fiber elongation should result in poorer abrasion testing and in turn wear out faster in wear and use. Lets test it and see!   (Photo natural cotton, key nylon intermediates, hexamethylene diamine (HMD) and adipic acid, Nylon Cotton Yarn and fabric)

 

(1) http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/31704/ Abdullah et al., 006 Analysis_of_abrasion_characteristics_in_textiles.pdf

(2) http://www.definetextile.com/2013/04/fiber-elongation.html

(3) Analysis of Abrasion Characteristics in Textiles by Nilgün Özdil, Gonca Özçelik Kayseri2 and Gamze Süpüren Mengüç; Ege University, Textile Engineering Department, Izmir, Turkey

(4) Analysis of Abrasion Characteristics in Textiles by Nilgün Özdil, Gonca Özçelik Kayseri2 and Gamze Süpüren Mengüç; Ege University, Textile Engineering Department, Izmir, Turkey

You know that Picatinny helmet rail?

August 9, 2016
ACH w NVG Mount
Army Combat Helmet (ACH)

 

I am working on a project that includes mounting a new piece of video kit on the Army Combat Helmet (ACH). While looking at one of my developmental helmets from 2005 shook my head a bit and considered all that is old comes back around.  This time the subject is the Picatinny rail.  When the ACH was introduced into the US Army inventory after some modification of the “Mitch Helmet” used in the previous years by US Army Special Forces, the basic version included just the Night Vision Goggle (NVG) mount. THe ACH as first fielded is a far cry from the helmets worn in combat today.

Rail pic b

At the time. the US Army program office for Soldier Clothing and Individual equipment located at Ft Belvoir, VA was looking at each piece of Soldier gear and considering how we could make it better, lighter, or more durable.  Soldiers were being asked to carry numerous new pieces of gear that needed batteries, antennas, lights and so forth.  Operating these new devices “hands free” would be a bonus – especially when you already had your hands full! I talked this challenge over with one of the ACH producers Mine Safety Appliances Co (MSA) and Russ Suchy – he came back to me with a prototype rail system shown below for the ACH.  I don’t know how long this development had been in the works before I diagramed out a pencil drawing of the ACH showing where I thought a rail could be applied. My point was the attachment mechanism for the rail use had to use the pre-existing mounting hard wear and holes. More holes in the helmet = bad.

ACH w Pict Rail v2

Informal internet research finds that the rail itself may stem from work by the “A.R.M.S. company in the early 1980s and Otto Repa in standardizing the Weaver design,” but I cant provide the exact references.  I did review the Mil-STD-1913, dated February 3, 1995 document and can see that at least as far back as 1995 rail capability was known to the US Army.  Interestingly this MIL Standard was focused on small arms.  Picatinny was the supervising office.

Picatinny Arsenal’s role in naming the rail during test and evaluation which created the military standard could be as simple as the official documentation. The MIL STD as recorded on the lowly DD-Form 1426; dated 1989 was overseen by Picatinny. Who knew that the rail would grow to such popularity in use?  Now days on most any special forces blog site you can see variations of how the Picatinny rail has been adopted for helmet mounts.

Rail pic a

MSA’s role changed when Revision Military announced in June 2012 the purchase of MSA’s North American ballistic helmet business. The purchase included the acquisition of MSA’s U.S.-based helmet manufacturing equipment and operations located in Newport, Vermont.

Regardless of whether its MSA, Revision, Gentex, Crye, or a host of other excellent combat producers, the fact that the Picatinny rail seems to be here to stay is without question.  Just look at the variations in helmet mounts (and not even mentioning weapon and hand guard rails!) and you can see that the creative adaptation has not stopped!

Rail pic c

 

A little Review: Differences between Buy America Act and Berry Amendment

August 8, 2014

PEOsoldier_ArmyCombatShirt

Photo PEO Soldier, US Army

I know its a thoroughly discussed subject but sometimes it’s good to go back to the source and review – just exactly what are the differences between Buy America Act (BAA) and Berry Amendment? 

The Berry Amendment applies to the Department of Defense (DoD) and covers procurement of Clothing,Tents, tarps, and covers,Cotton and other natural fiber products, Woven silk blends, Spun silk yarn for cartridge cloth,Synthetic fabric and coated synthetic fabric,Canvas products, Wool: wool fiber, wool yarn and wool in fabrics, materials or manufactured articles, and items of individual equipment (FSC 8465) containing covered fibers, yarns, fabrics or material. There are five important exceptions to this law (1) Incidental incorporation, (2) Chemical warfare protective clothing from qualifying country, (3) Cotton & wool waste or byproducts for propellants & explosives, (4) Fibers and yarns in synthetic & coated synthetic fabrics for non-textile products: examples include fibers in circuit cards and fibers in SAPI plates, and (5) Para-aramid fibers & yarns (from qualifying countries only).

The Berry Amendment is specific to  DoD procurement where the BAA applies to all federal agencies (the Berry Amendment is IN ADDITION TO the BAA). 

Photo PEO Soldier US Army – MOLLE Pack

Berry Amendment and BAA Differences

  1. Berry is DoD specific, BAA is government-wide
  2. Berry specifies covered items, BAA covers supply purchases
  3. Berry Amendment applies over the Simplified Acquisition Threshold ($150,000), while Buy American Act applies over the micropurchase threshold ($2,500)
  4. Berry requires 100% domestic content, BAA requires 50% domestic content
  5. Berry Amendment has no commercial exceptions for food, textiles, or hand or measuring tools, BAA has exception for commercial information technology
  6. For Berry, qualifying country exceptions exist for chemical warfare protective clothing (all qualifying countries) and   (Netherlands only). For BAA, the qualifying country exception applies to all purchases
  7. Berry applies for contracts performed worldwide, BAA applies to U.S. only
  8. Berry has no contractor certification requirement

Key take aways are that the Buy American Act compliance does not equal Berry Amendmentcompliance and that both laws apply to DoD but Berry is more restrictive.  For more information on which countries fall within the BAA please see DFARS 225.003 for details. Partial list follows as: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden,Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

THE FINE PRINT – the Berry Amendment (10 U.S.C. 2533a), covers textiles, food and hand or measuring tools. Specialty metals are no longer part of this law. Specialty metals are restricted under Section 842 of the FY2007 NDAA. You can find all the details as implemented through the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) at Subpart 225.7002. The contract clauses that apply to the acquisition of the items listed in A.1., above, are DFARS 252.225-7012 and DFARS 252.225-7015 You can also find policy on the Berry Amendment in Procedures, Guidance and Information (PGI) 225-70.  For more information on Defense Procurement and Policy (DPAP) please visit http://www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/cpic/ic/berry_amendment_faq.html

Things We Never Thought to Remind the Contracting Workforce

April 22, 2014

While I would love to take credit for these “gems” of contracting wisdom I cannot – it with full concurrence from Mr. George Chavis that I share these “Things we thought we would never have to remind the contracting workforce.”  While this list seems obvious or humorous, from George’s point of view, these are errors he sees everyday.  I thought it was a good idea to share with all acquisition professionals who are the target audience for this blog in the hope that by bringing these errors to the attention of both government and industry contracting professions, the end result will be contracts with fewer errors and required less re-work. 

So lets take a look:

1.    In order for there to be multiple awards, more than one contract must be issued.
2.    Internationally renowned leaders in an industry (e.g. WalMart, Lockheed Martin) are unlikely to qualify as “small businesses” in that industry.
3.    The line items must add up to the total.
4.    Line items must describe what is being bought.
5.    When a line item has two or more separately deliverable parts, the quantity on the line item cannot be 1.
6.    Orders and modifications against contracts and schedules must be placed with the contractor who received the contract or schedule.
7.   “C”-type definitive contracts cannot be used as indefinite-type contracts (IDCs) with “P” modifications acting as “orders.”
8.   “Dollars” are not a unit of measure–we don’t purchase dollars.
9.    When deciding to ship an item, the destination must exist.
10.   In order for an organization or person to be delegated an action (e.g. acceptance), the organization or person must exist and be capable of performing the action.
11.   Acceptance is an inherently governmental function and cannot be assigned to a contractor.
12.   Cost type contracts cannot be paid with a purchase card.
13.   Contracts must be issued in writing in a form readable by humans.
14.   A contract awarded as “firm fixed price” cannot have an “estimated” value.
15.   In order to have “not separately priced” items on an order, it is necessary to also have separately priced items.
16.   A grant is not a contract.
17.   There is no need to send a letter to the people awarded a contract informing them that the funds on the contract have been obligated on the contract.
18.   If you use one identifier for the shipping location, packages can only go to one place.  If you want packages to go to two places you need to identify both locations.
19.   When numbering things sequentially, do not use the same number twice.
20.   When numbering in a specific series, do not start with the last number.
21.   If the format for a numeric field (e.g. total value) allows for “up to” eleven digits, that does not require you to actually enter an eleven digit number.
22.   The contract price has to be part of the contract.
23.   Working for a field organization in the Defense Department does not mean that you are in the “Office” of the Secretary of the Army (or Navy, Air Force, or Defense).
24.   The concept of rounding applies to units and subunits.
25.   You cannot round the amount of funding available UP to the nearest dollar.
26.   You cannot award a contract for more money than the entire Department’s budget.
27.   In order for all deliveries to be complete on a contract, the first delivery must have occurred.
and finally –
28.   One cannot cite as authority for an action a statute that does not exist.

So I hope this list stimulates some thought and maybe a “look-up” to a reference in the Federal Acquisition Regulation to confirm a point or two. Thanks again for compiling this list of commonly found errors in contract data.