RICHMOND, VA –
Twenty-two Defense Logistics Agency Aviation employees visited two industrial facilities April 19-20 to gain a better understanding, from a manufacture’s perspective, of issues involved in casting and forging.
The group, made up of weapon system program managers, product specialists, demand and supply planners, acquisition and resolution specialists, and customer operations logistics officers, visited U.S. Drop Forge Company in Woolwich Township, New Jersey, and Buck Company foundry in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The event was coordinated by DLA Aviation’s Forging and Casting Assistance Team, also known as AFCAT.
Key training briefings were conducted on the bus in route to the facilities by DLA Aviation Engineering Directorate’s Frank Dipofi, AFCAT program manager, and Keith Sturgill, and Walker George, applications engineer contractors.
Briefing topics included: casting and forging design and application, alloy material properties, manufacturing processes, procurement, quality assurance, additive manufacturing, technical data packages, engineering data lists, economic order quantity, post processing (machining, plant non-destructive inspections, first article testing), source development, and predicting lead-time risk.
Topics discussed during the forging and foundry facilities tours were: tooling challenges (building and designing a part from scratch), estimating tooling costs, contract line numbers, machining, differences in forging and casting processes and additive manufacturing.
Application engineers also provided background on casting and forging manufacturing processes through the use of prototypes, briefings, and videos. They demonstrated the most current prototype building processes through the engineering conception to the three-dimension print design, to the printed 3-D prototype which printed a plastic model on a computerized numerical control printer.
After the two-day tour, DLA Aviation’s Customer Operations Directorate’s Lee Grazetti, T-38 Talon weapon systems program manager said the forging and casting trip was very informative and reinforced that determining customer requirements well in advance is imperative. He also said seeing the work that goes into making the parts that support the weapon systems, and the processes of how the parts are made, as well as the technology and the costs involved, contributes a great deal to his understanding.
DLA Aviation’s Supplier Operations Directorate’s Antoine Dozier, acquisition specialist, said the casting and forging trip gave him a better understanding of the cost of materials (such as iron verses aluminum) and the processes involved in tooling.
“This information will be helpful in justifying prices on complex buys of forged or casted national stock number parts,” said Dozier. “The training is especially beneficial to the acquisition and product specialists, and supply planners because the knowledge helps us better understand the time and processes involved which will help us write better contracts, ensure we are getting a fair and reasonable price, and better support the warfighter by getting them the parts when they need them.”
Dipofi said DLA formed the Forging and Casting Research and Development Initiative to mitigate the effects of dwindling suppliers, locate tooling, fix obsolete technical data, and reduce lead times. He added, domestic supply chains that were once robust have disappeared, fragmented, or gone overseas. He said the initiative is a cost-shared collaboration between industry partners, the federal government and academia, which focuses on acquisition-supply chains, new technologies, and technology transfer.
“Casting and forging industries are of continuing importance to DLA logistics and today’s world economics may cause a new round of contraction,” said Dipofi. “As certain industries are in recession, such as energy and shipbuilding, the amount of work awarded to forges and foundries is reduced.” He added that having adequate numbers of capable forges and foundries is critical to DLA supplying needed parts.
Dipofi said typically two workshops are planned each year, one during April, the other in September.