North Carolina is still home to many textile and apparel manufacturers. Thirty years ago he had 2,300 companies and he had over 278,000 employees. According to him, there are currently about 800 companies with more than 35,000 employees. government statistics.
There are many old factories adapted to Other uses. What’s still going on in the textile and apparel industry today is highly automated, high-tech technology that’s more resistant to competition from low-wage nations that plagued North Carolina a generation ago.
Supporting this smaller but more resilient industry is one of the nation’s top textile schools. Wilson Textile College North Carolina State University and adjacent Centennial Campus, of Nonwoven Research Instituteis a world-class man-made fiber research, training, testing and production facility.
Last week, a slew of regional and even national textile and apparel talent gathered at the McKinmon Center in North Carolina. Federal and Defense Textile Summit, business, academia, federal procurement agencies, and especially the military. FEDTEX is North Carolina Military Business Center and the Defense Technology Transition Office. NCMBC and DEFTECH work to expand military business opportunities for North Carolina companies, both established and start-ups.
The military purchases large amounts of clothing and wearable equipment for its combatants. One of FEDTEX’s goals was to have a dialogue about what the military needs, what businesses are working on, and the challenges facing both.
Two of the main speakers were Air Force Colonel Matthew T. Harnleydirector of Defense Logistics Agency clothing and textile supply chain, and Brigadier General David C. Walshcommander of Marine Corps Systems CommandService Acquisition Division.
Their presentation provided a window into a China-focused military procurement system. Preparing for the next war requires different logistics requirements.
Much of what is evolving in military clothing and equipment will appear in North Carolina. Largest Department of Defense staff presence in the countryat Army Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, Marine Corps Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, Marine Corps Cherry Point Air Station in Havelock, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, and Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City.
Earlier in his career, Walsh served as an attack helicopter pilot and director of operations at Marine Corps Air Station New River, Jacksonville. Fleet Readiness Center East, Navy maintenance, repair and overhaul facility at Cherry Point.
fragile supply chain
Based in Philadelphia, Colonel Harnley is part of the DLA, which provided about $48 billion worth of goods and services to the military and other government customers last year. His clothing and textile department is located in his DLA. army support It is an organization that also manages supply chains for food, medical supplies and equipment, and construction materials.
“I like to call us Morale Supply Chain because we provide the goods that have the greatest impact on our military and combatants,” he said. “Items like MRE, fresh fruit and vegetables, heavy equipment, and the closest and most dear to my heart are clothes and textiles.”
He listed footwear, uniforms, flame-retardant clothing, bulletproof vests, flags, hazmat suits, tents, religious items, and more on Baileywick.
“If you’re out there and you fit into one of these categories, we’re the Huckleberry for it,” he said.
“Whether you’re a small business or a large company, we’re interested in what you can bring,” Harnley said. From an innovation, R&D perspective, “I’m sure there are people in the military and government agencies who would be interested in what you’re doing.”
Harnly’s clothing and textile division works with 300 vendors. “It may seem like a lot, but when you start to put off the expertise of the services we offer, you find that the number of vendors that actually exist starts to narrow down,” he said. I was. “How many vendors are there offering bulletproof vests and helmets? How many are making sleeping bags? How many cut-and-sews? How many textile businesses? .”
He said the garment and textile industrial base was “so-called fragile”, lacking depth and “highly susceptible” to supply chain problems. He said supply chains are dealing with the impact of the pandemic and “economic issues.”
The DLA seeks to support the industrial base, especially small businesses, by making payments faster and offsetting inflation. We have a special program to fund you if you need extra capacity immediately.
In some cases, especially at the lower levels of the supply chain where zippers, buttons and fabrics are manufactured, the vendor is more likely to notice the problem than the DLA.
His agency monitors clothing for shortages. There are currently 48 items on the watch list, such as trousers and coat types. Some of them can only be issued to recruit training centers, he said.
The U.S. military has trained and fought together and, recognizing that their services are different, has sought to take a similar approach to uniforms and equipment.of Clothing and Textiles Joint Control Board, consisting of rank and file officers and other dignitaries, who meet to achieve efficiency. “It’s as simple as the cuffs look. increase.”
focus on the Pacific
General Walsh, based in Quantico, Virginia, said: We don’t make a lot. We expect it from everyone in academia and industry. “
Today’s focus is on the Pacific. “We hear similar voices from other service partners. China continues to develop and accelerate its capabilities.”
Marines in the Pacific would become “stand-ins” operating on island bases and ships in close proximity to enemy nations, which would determine how the Marines would be equipped.
“I will do my best as a substitute” [and] Beings operating from advanced bases and amphibious ships operating within our potential enemy’s weapons war zone. If you are familiar with the Pacific Ocean, you will know that there are a series of islands very close to China and Taiwan. We anticipate operating a widely dispersed small force on and around these islands. And most of the time they are independent. “
so “Signature Management” It is important. “We need to be able to hide or reduce signatures. [infrared] We are under constant satellite coverage in every way, both in the realm and in the electronic realm. “
Marines wear gear and clothing for extended periods of time, so they need to be quick-drying, breathable, and layerable for a variety of climates, from the tropical to the Arctic. Marines also need to be able to easily communicate with wearable devices that do not add significant heat or weight.
“Because they operate in small units, they need to be able to connect to the web of information and the web of data so that they can create a common operational landscape and be aware of their environment,” Walsh said. said. of threat.And when you use them as sensing functions widely distributed in the battlespace, you get the information they’re sensing and share that look [with] more power. “
“So the ability for them to wear that equipment, power that equipment, and be able to share that information with the Joint Force is really, really important. , Body situational awareness is very important to them, and what we’ve seen in trying to bring that equipment to individual Marines is heat and weight,” Walsh said.
New tactical combat uniforms are being distributed, he said, “which are lighter, dry faster, are more breathable and have built-in insect repellent features. We have purchased 70,000 for the Marine Corps. I have,” he said.
Mr. Walsh, like Mr. Harnley, spoke of the importance of commonality. “Sometimes when you look across the service, you don’t know what other services are doing. We need help telling what the Army or Air Force, which is very close to the Marine Corps, is doing.” We may be able to compromise and make some trade-offs to ensure we arrive at a common solution.”
A tour of Wilson University and the Nonwovens Research Institute was held the day before the conference. It was truly a tour of what the modern textile and apparel industry is like. Floors of high-tech equipment, laboratories and automation. Training of personnel to invent, test and manufacture new materials and to manage this equipment.
Wilson has 980 students, 68 laboratories and 200,000 square feet of teaching, research, manufacturing and collaboration space. that is, Zeis Textiles Extended Service.
The Nonwovens Research Institute serves sectors that manufacture everything from diapers to face masks to filters and is backed by these companies. 55 member companies, 3M, Procter & Gamble, etc. We conduct research and development for companies and government agencies, training over 300 industry professionals each year.can help businesses manufacture new products It has state-of-the-art facilities.