DoD Funds Digital Thread Manufacturing Laboratory to Help Upskill Industry

The Department of Defense’s Office of Industrial Base Policy (IBP), through its Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Prioritization (MCEIP) office, has joined forces with the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) in East Hartford, Connecticut to design, develop, provide, and operate a Northeast regional end-to-end digital thread laboratory. On May 23, 2023, MCEIP awarded a $7.1 million contract to CCAT to fully leverage data-driven digital capabilities to improve the cost-effectiveness and responsiveness of commercial production to meet DoD needs. The Digital Thread Manufacturing Prototype Project (or “DTM”), led by MCEIP’s Innovation Capability and Modernization (ICAM) office, will promote and speed the adoption of advanced technologies, skilled workforce development, and the integration of digital tools (especially in-situ sensors and metrology capabilities) by current and prospective defense manufacturers.

DTM’s Digital Thread Manufacturing Lab will enhance the application of data-driven approaches to manufacturing and workforce development efforts by digitally transforming the defense industrial base in the Northeast. It will provide critical manufacturing job-related training and career development resources, manufacturing equipment, tools, materials, and software. The lab will also emphasize the identification and enhancement of “convergence” skill sets, such as the knowledge and skills the workforce needs to streamline the integration of Information Technology / Operational Technology (IT/OT) systems and reduce barriers to the adoption of digital thread manufacturing.

Dr. Laura Taylor-Kale, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy (IBP) said, “The capabilities this project delivers will help manufacturers gain and maintain commanding visibility into what their manufacturing processes are doing and how well they are doing it in real-time. This will enable our network of defense suppliers to achieve better cost, schedule and performance outcomes for themselves, the Department, and the Joint Force.”

CCAT President and CEO, Mr. Ron Angelo, and Dr. Jackie Garofano, CCAT Chief Technology Officer stated, “This DoD designated Digital Thread Manufacturing Lab is an engine for the nation to advance data-driven digital capabilities to improve the cost-effectiveness and responsiveness of the supply base. CCAT’s demonstrated success as a national leader, in delivering technology adoption and workforce training throughout the industrial base, will ensure the success of this transformational opportunity to partner with the DoD and be a model to deliver high-impact digital training at scale.”

The experiential training at CCAT will enable production and quality control personnel, and decision makers, to gain and maintain an integrated view of the collection, storage, display, analysis, and application of digital data to improve the cost effectiveness and timeliness (schedule and performance) of design, manufacturing, and inspection operations. The Digital Thread Lab will demonstrate and develop solutions that advance and sustain both traditional and emerging defense manufacturing sectors, preserve critical and unique manufacturing and design skills, and identify and mitigate supply chain vulnerabilities.

“Austal USA is excited to demonstrate our extensive capability in providing additive manufacturing solutions to the U.S. Navy’s submarine industrial base,” commented Austal USA President Rusty Murdaugh. “Our highly talented team at Austal USA Advanced Technologies, located in Charlottesville, Virginia, is looking forward to exercising the resources provided by this award to guarantee future success for the Navy’s Virginia and Columbia class submarine fleets.”

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