The National Forging Tooling Database (NFTD), part of the PRO-FAST initiative, is re-establishing the lost relationships between replacement parts for legacy weapons and the tooling held by forging companies. PRO-FAST is manufacturing consortium linking the Defense Logistics Agency with the Forging Industry Assn. and Advanced Technology Institute.
The NFTD was developed by the University of Toledo and its partners IHS (a developer of IT packages) and Plexus Systems (a supplier of manufacturing software). FORGE-IT is a problem-solving team designed to address technical and enterprise issues facing the industry and the Dept. of Defense.
This system is already proving to be efficient and effective. For example:
Last October 11, Becky Bigger at Prop Shaft Supply Inc. requested information on a flange and companion universal joint for a M109 Self-Propelled Howitzer (155 mm). The forged part was identified as NSN 2520-00-796-3997, part number 7962742.
On October 12, Russell Beard, FORGE-IT team leader at ATI, checked the NFTD and found that IMT Forge, Port Colborne, ON, would very likely have the dies to make this part, so he called the company to verify that the tooling was available. By October 20, IMT Forge had an order for producing the forging.
When the NFTD is fully implemented as part of IHS’s Haystack Gold, the time will be reduced further. Companies like Prop Shaft Supply will have direct access to the NFTD and could know the location of the forging tool in a couple of minutes. A phone call to the forging company makes the connection.
As this article was going to press, IHS officials said they would be announcing the commercialization of the NFTD in the near future. At that time, anyone subscribing to the NFTD will be able to pull it up on their screen, enter a P/N or NSN and, if the die number is in the database, find the tooling location. IHS will be offering subscriptions to the NFTD through its product offerings.
Looking at the case of the Howitzer components from the industry perspective, the NFTD was critical to booking the order at the forge shop. From the perspective of DOD, producing repair parts quickly means the weapon can be put back in service quickly and the DOD saves expense by using existing tooling.
It is not uncommon for the administrative lead time (ALT, or time from requesting a part until a contract is signed to deliver it) to be more than six months for forged parts. Once the contract is signed, production lead time (PLT, time from order to delivery) can be equally long.
Finding the tooling fast reduces ALT substantially because the part provider can be identified quickly, and it reduces PLT significantly because the forger company does not have to wait two-three months to make tooling. In addition to the time saved, the DOD does not have to pay for duplicate tooling, which in this example saved an estimated $15,000.
J.P. Beierle at Prop Shaft Supply Inc., the company that needed the forging, says, “This database is invaluable to companies like ours, that do work for the U.S. military. We need forgings, and we can not afford the time and expense of creating new tooling, especially when there is existing tooling.”
IMT Forge’s Mel Moore states that, “In order for prospects to make not only the right choice but also the proper financial choice, the NFTD is certainly a benefit to IMT.”
Since the original use of the NFTD to locate tooling, 15 tools have been located with similar time savings and $250,000 in cost savings, resulting from avoiding extra tooling costs.
Prop Shaft Supply’s Beierle offers two more examples in which his company has located tooling required for producing replacement parts from forgings.
On January 21, 2005, Beierle requested information on a forged part identified as NSN 2520-00-679-9247 (part number 8756585), a final drive yoke for a universal joint for the M-113 personnel carrier family of vehicles.
On January 24, Beard checked the NFTD and found the forging company, Commercial Forged Products (CFP), with the tooling and called to verify that the tooling was on-hand. On February 1, CFP delivered a quote to Prop Shaft Co.
By March 8, an order was issued — “estimated annual demand quantity for the item of supply is 236” — and the next day CFP received an order for 193 units with accelerated delivery.
The cost savings in this case is $19,000, or what it would have cost to duplicate the tooling “The new database has generated opportunities for Commercial Forged Products,” reports Elgin Shupert, key accounts manager. “We have a fair amount of legacy tooling, and have high hopes that the new database will generate sales for us in the future.”
In another case involving Prop Shaft Supply, tooling required for a spider for a universal joint for the Model M60A1 Bridge Armor Vehicle (AVLB) was located at Kropp Forge. Again, Beard was involved in checking the database and confirming the availability of the tooling.
This forging purchase is still pending. If it goes ahead, the savings in tooling costs will be $15,000, and the lead-time saving is estimated to be 100 to 150 days.
“The National Forging Tooling Database has generated additional interest in Kropp Forge and our forging capabilities. This list provides an opportunity for new and existing customers to access legacy tooling. This program should continue as it is an asset to forging suppliers and forging users,” says Robert C. Byers, sales manager at Kropp Forge.
Forging companies interested in adding their tooling specs to the NFTD should contact Mark Vonderembse at the University of Toledo, Tel. 419-530-4319; or[email protected].
To gain access to the NFTD to locate tools, contact Mark Strandquest at Tel. 303-397-2551, or [email protected].