Employees from the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Industrial Hardware supply chain acted as organization ambassadors, while learning more about the items they buy for warfighters at bicoastal industry engagement meetings late September and October.
The IH cross-functional group of pre- and post-award acquisitions, technical/quality and supply specialists attended the International Fastener Expo Sept. 28-30 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and the Design-2-Part Show Oct. 23-24 in Oaks, Pennsylvania.
The purpose in attending was to enhance supplier relations management efforts by putting IH “out there” in front of industry partners and exposing employees to the technology and capabilities industry has to offer, said DLA Troop Support IH Technical and Quality Division Chief Jose Pereira.
“It’s great for our folks to get out to these [types of events] to see things they just haven’t seen before and meet some of the vendors,” Phil Dicus, IH testing and evaluation branch chief, said.
Alec Fixl, an IH product specialist, enjoyed the education he was able to provide some vendors.
“It was funny going around to these small companies and them not knowing who we are and what we do [with Small Business],” Fixl said. “It was good to gauge what they want [business-wise], or don’t know about DLA Troop Support. I think it was eye opening for [IH] and the industry folks.”
Fixl said that he and other employees, like IH Post-Award Acting Division Chief Brian McGinley and acquisition specialist Ryan Cunningham, were able to team up to answer questions and help companies interested in doing business with IH.
McGinley said the opportunities these venues provided were different, but complimentary to DLA events such as Industry Day where certain vendors are invited to participate.
“The companies [at these events] are in our [domestic industrial hardware] base, but they may not even know about Troop Support,” McGinley said. “So in some way, we’re kind of ‘selling’ DLA just by attending. It definitely got our name out there.”
Cunningham also saw significant value in the interaction alone.
“The way I see it, if I have a positive interaction with [industry partners], it has the potential to make them more receptive to doing business with the government,” Cunningham said.
Employees also had a chance to learn how certain key factors, such as coatings and other materials, make some of the seemingly commonplace fasteners IH procures for the military more unique in cost and design, Cunningham said.
Fixl and Cunningham said that new technologies such as 3D printing, packaging machines, 3D scanners and measuring systems that could take several measurements in a matter of seconds were the highlight of the show.
Dicus agreed, saying that the 3D scanning and measurement systems had significant potential for IH.
“I’m interested in the scanning technology because it has a few practical applications that could really help out with respect to our technical drawings and the reverse engineering process,” Dicus said.
Dicus said that 3D imaging could be possibly be used to better visually identify parts for customers, and in the case of reverse engineering, the imagery and measurements could be a more efficient way to relay required specifications to vendors in instances where parts are required, but no longer manufactured by industry.
Industry engagement continues to be one of DLA’s priorities as a part of its “Strong Partnerships” line of effort and as the focus of its Industry Engagement Plan.