The Barnes Global Advisors (TBGA), a Pittsburgh-based engineering consultancy specializing in additive manufacturing (AM) processes, has received a $1.975 million grant from the Department of Defense (DoD) to help develop the advanced manufacturing ecosystem for the US defense industrial base. Funded through the DoD’s National Imperative for Industrial Skills (NIIS) initiative, the award is part of the Resilient Manufacturing Ecosystem (RME) project started by the SecureAmerica Institute at Texas A&M University.
In its efforts to build a reproducible model for an RME, TBGA will benefit from a unique organizational advantage. Because of its role in helping create Neighborhood 91, TBGA can utilize the available infrastructure there to support the RME cause. Neighborhood 91, of course, is the highly unique advanced manufacturing industrial park that shares space with Pittsburgh International Airport.
In addition to technology transfer related to advanced manufacturing cybersecurity, the RME project will entail two other main objectives. First, TBGA will coordinate a pilot program for workforce development related to “DoD supply chain issues”. Then, building on the results of that program, the organization will create a strategy for most effectively reconstructing the Neighborhood 91 model elsewhere in the US, and around the globe.
In a press release about the DoD award, John E. Barnes, president of TBGA, commented, “The past few years have demonstrated that the United States has an urgent need to develop a secure and resilient manufacturing supply chain, with emphasis on resilient. The development of the Neighborhood 91 production campus was a step forward in this goal and this new workforce development effort will move us to the next phase of implementation. You can’t have advanced technology without the knowledge to design for it and use it.”
The Director of Government Programs at TBGA, Andy Davis, said, “This [RME] award kicks off what we anticipate will be a multi-year effort, with Phase 1 focusing on initial planning, capacity expansion, and sample part demonstrations at Neighborhood 91. Long term, we are committed to delivering a comprehensive advanced manufacturing solution encompassing the entire [AM] value chain for the DoD.”
A point I’ve brought up often, which seems especially relevant given the astonishing sums of AM money being thrown around by Uncle Sam these days, is that sometimes, a seemingly small amount of money can be reasonably expected to have a big impact down the road. Thus, the grant may have been for “only” $2 million, but this is exactly the sort of endeavor that, if successful, will impact the entire future trajectory of the AM sector.
As I wrote about in this post, the Biden administration is very much dedicated to not only rebuild American manufacturing, but to do so in a highly specific way: organized in regional clusters, or “ecosystems”. There are many reasons why that is a priority, but the main one, I would imagine, is to contribute to the long-term reduction of carbon emissions caused by the transit of finished goods. In other words, the cluster-model would be a feature of the program no matter whose manufacturing strategy it was. And, it will be an increasingly important feature of manufacturing economies around the planet, so long as net-zero emissions targets are the law of the land.
Thus, Neighborhood 91 was already a living example of the future of industrial productivity. Now, with the program that TBGA will develop, the business complex will have a truly measurable direct impact on the next century of manufacturing.
Images courtesy of Neighborhood 91
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