Building test stations for programmatic DoD or government defense platforms is a massive undertaking. Projects like the F-35 combat aircraft or the Patriot missile defense system are the result of years of development and require testing configurations that comprise large, multifunctional test stations. Oftentimes, these programs require dedicated test facilities to accommodate the immense testing requirements, from exhaustive testing of airframe structural integrity to inspecting millions of lines of code.
One of the choices facing test engineers is determining the right approach to building the necessary array of proprietary test stations for the program or platform being developed. The investment, coupled with the mission-critical nature of these defense-oriented programs, puts enormous pressure on the quality of the testing. Balancing the delivery of increasingly complex test systems while staying on-budget and on-mission requires an innovative approach to procurement that simplifies the acquisition of test equipment, eliminates unnecessary costs, and brings the right technology to the project.
When a DoD organization or one of their large prime contractors win a contract, they often need to outline the plan for low rate initial production (LRIP), full-rate production (FRP), and long-term sustainment. To do this might require sourcing hundreds of individual products or components, each specified by the engineering team and a buyer, or procurement organization, who has to actually acquire them. This function is usually outsourced to a variety of buyers, who are then faced with the challenge of navigating unpredictable and different lead times for various components. Hundreds of parts coming in at various times present a few challenges. First, every item might not be coming into the same central location so parts could be distributed across a few different locations. This makes it difficult to know what’s been delivered, which in turn increases the cost associated with engineering resources because they are then tasked with auditing what components are available and whether or not a particular project can get started with the materials on hand. The time required to track down the materials and get them to a centralized location takes valuable time from the actual engineering required to get the system up and running. Even with in-house design expertise, the overhead associated with these extra steps can easily triple the cost of engineering. Compounding this inefficiency, when engineers or technicians have to track down parts and integrate them into individual stations, they’re focus is diverted from designing the next part of the larger test system.
This is where test directors can turn testing, which can sometimes be viewed as a necessary but problematic process, into a legitimate competitive advantage. Adopting an acquisition management strategy that can serve as a single point of accountability for end-to-end procurement and logistical solutions can improve virtually every aspect of test system development. Working with an experienced acquisition partner brings the technical expertise, buying power, and technology partnerships needed to maximize value at every step in the procurement process. In addition to this streamlined procurement, we bring experience administering intricate terms and conditions, the technical knowledge to help build the most effective solutions available, and industry buying power to our customers and partners.
Instead of ordering the hundreds of parts needed for a system on their own, a prime contractor can produce a single purchase order for TEVET, and we can procure everything on their behalf. With unrelenting cost considerations and increasing scrutiny over budgets, test managers can bring our buying power to bear on their projects and realize cost savings they may not have access to on their own. We can also streamline the actual development of the system by staging the materials for them. For example, if a particular test station requires three test racks we can fulfill all of the material requirements for the first one, bundle and kit it so that it’s ready to go and save the engineer’s or technician’s time. In this way, we can take orders according to what components you want and when you want them, and we can send it to you for you to build while we’re kitting the second test rack and so on. This service can also be customized to your needs. So if you need just some very light integration, we can handle things like organizing and labeling cables, and package them up for you. Or we can take this a step further and integrate the box instruments as well before sending it to you. Finally, if in-house expertise isn’t available, we can also find a resource to build it for you, further reducing overhead and management costs that come from adding personnel.
At TEVET, your mission is our mission and we are focused on doing this by making the acquisition of technical products easier for customers, suppliers, and partners. Through consolidating the PO instead of having customers outsource their list to a host of different buyers, passing along our buying power to realize the most competitive prices, staging the material for orderly integration and, finally, kitting components as necessary, we’re able to serve government and defense organizations with fast, cost-effective test solutions.