Smart Energy Solutions evolve from 2017 DLA Energy Worldwide Energy Conference

By Irene Smith, DLA Energy Public Affairs

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Jim Mandziara, director of Defense Logistics Agency Energy’s Business Process Support Directorate, had three goals for attending the 2017 DLA Energy Worldwide Energy Conference.

“I wanted to see what commercial industry applications were available for DLA solicitations, discover what advancements commercial industry made in their support to their energy supply chains and lastly, gain insight into the commercial industry participating in the J6 Enterprise Technology Services contract,” he said.

DLA has two different solicitations needing solutions on critical data information, IT systems, technology and infrastructure supporting DLA Energy. To explore industry capability to respond to these solicitations, Mandziara visited vendor exhibit booths and discussed vendor capabilities, which may be offered in response to solicitation for solutions and improvements to Energy information systems.

“By engaging in this open forum and sharing our needs with private industry, I met and exceeded my goals,” Mandziara said. “The WWEC clearly demonstrated that commercial industry is capable of responding to DLA solicitations with technically acceptable applications.”

The WWEC’s primary objective is to provide a forum for energy industry leaders in the private and public sectors to engage in dialogue about issues critical to both industry and consumers. According to post-conference surveys and testimonies, the 2017 WWEC was a success.

“Our attendance was better than expected,” said WWEC conference organizer Bruce Blank, director of the Procurement Process Support Directorate. “We had a good mix of Energy and external speakers. The trade show was sold out and we had good coverage of all aspects of DLA Energy’s business.”

A highlight of the WWEC was the exchange of ideas and the impromptu meetings held outside of the scheduled sessions. Conference objectives were so successful that attendees recommended adding an extra day and offering more “white space” for networking and idea sharing, Blank added.

Martha Gray is the DLA Energy Utility Services director. Her division supports military service partners by offering specialized contracting and technical expertise for utility services concerns. She and her staff made valuable business contacts during the conference.

“A real and positive outcome for us was the Natural Gas Industry session, where we talked with current and potential natural gas distribution system providers about our request for proposals and processes,” Gray said. “We learned about the challenges that prevent them from offering on our solicitations. It was eye-opening for us, our military service partners and our utility service providers.”

Opportunities to network and exchange information on an array of energy topics resonated with conference attendees.

“Service program managers and representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Defense commented that they found this to be one of the best utility process offerings at a conference in a long time,” Gray said. “Since the conference, we have seen a marked increase in the number of offerors interested in our solicitations seeking to privatize service-owned natural gas systems.”

More than 100 workshops were offered, covering topics across DLA Energy’s worldwide business including petroleum supply and distribution, supply chain services, aerospace energy, installation energy and alternative fuels. Many DLA Energy business units invited suppliers and industry experts to the workshops to learn about new business and solicitation processes.

Doug Smith, DLA Energy Aerospace Energy Supplier Division director, said he found the WWEC to be an ideal opportunity to meet face-to-face with industry representatives in a centralized environment over a multiple-day timeframe.

“During the WWEC, Aerospace Energy provided training and open discussions on various changes to ordering procedures, delivery processes and invoicing processes and procedures,” Smith said. “Having multiple vendors in the same place at the same time produces a positive impact.”

According to Smith, a successful networking opportunity occurred between him and a potential supplier of a kerosene-based rocket propellant. The vendor was attending the conference as a member of the petroleum industry but received information on the kerosene-based RP-1 rocket propellant. This led to a phone call to Smith and discussion of becoming a potential supplier of the rocket propellant. The vendor currently supplies DLA Energy with other products and has provided evidence to Aerospace Energy that it can meet the rocket fuel’s military specification.

The WWEC is responsible for increasing competition on an emerging supply chain, Smith said.

“With this potential supplier, Aerospace Energy is expecting competition on the upcoming follow-on rocket propellant contract for the first time ever,” Smith said. “Because of the WWEC, my organization is poised and ready to support the new rocket engine whether it is the Department of Defense’s decision to use liquid methane or RP-1/2 as fuel for the new space launch engine.”

The many DLA Energy employees who volunteered to help plan and work the conference were key to its success.

“Getting volunteers was easy,” Blank said. “In an effort to reduce the budget, we asked the workforce to volunteer as registrants and we had a terrific turnout. It cut costs for the contractor, which allowed money to be spent in other areas. Our employees were courteous, professional and are willing to volunteer again.”

Many DLA Energy employees attended the WWEC for the first time and they found it fun, as well as informative.

“This was an amazing event that showcased what DLA Energy is all about,” said Damon Moore, DLA Energy Aerospace Energy Supplier Operations deputy director.

Other Energy employees shared similar impressions.

“This was a great learning opportunity,” an employee expressed in the survey. “The DLA Energy WWEC 2017 allowed participants the opportunity to build professional relationships among different staffs, suppliers, service components, service control points and industry to ensure the joint petroleum community works towards common goals and objectives relevant to our organization’s missions.”

“I really enjoyed the conference and learned a lot from the presentations and vendors,” another Energy volunteer commented. “Meeting vendors and talking with them about their projects is useful market research so contracting personnel know a point of contact to add to distribution lists when synopsizing on (the Federal Business Opportunities) website.”

Conference feedback from industry was also positive.

“I’m very pleased DLA (Energy) made the decision to begin hosting this conference again,” said Tim Ramsay, Information Security World Fuel Services vice president. “The learning and networking opportunities were more than I expected.”

Chevron Dubai Representative Masooma Sayyed wrote, “It was a very worthwhile event to attend. The entire process, from the user-friendly online navigation tools and registration process, to the venue itself and the seamless way in which the numerous agenda items where handled with the hundreds of visitors, was noteworthy. I plan to attend the next one for sure!”

The event proved to be a great experience for attendees as evidenced by more than 90 percent of respondents to the post-conference survey indicating they would attend the 2019 conference.

Blank and his team have already started planning for the 2019 DLA Energy WWEC.

“I am looking forward to the next worldwide conference that will be held May 20-23, 2019, at the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland,” Blank said. “The recommendations we received at (this year’s) conference and through surveys will help us plan a bigger and better event.”