By Jane Benson, RDECOM Soldier Center Public AffairsJuly 30, 2018
NATICK, Mass. -- Some of the most significant contributions are sometimes made quietly behind the scenes. This is the case for the team who works on technical data packages, or TDPs, at the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Soldier Center.
TDPs include technical drawings, as well as other information, that drive the design, prototyping and manufacturing of a wide range of warfighter equipment. The Soldier Center team is responsible for the Army's TDPs and also many TDPs for other branches of the Armed Services.
Produced by the center, the TDPs are an incredibly important because without them cutting-edge items invented by their top-notch scientists and engineers, as well as inventors from other organizations, could not come to fruition.
"Everything out there needs a drawing or else it doesn't go into production," said Robert Galyan, a drafter on the Technical Services Team.
The technical data packages are key to prototype development and to making sure things run smoothly when items go out to mass production. The packages play a huge role in making sure the Army and the other branches of the Armed Services get the equipment and capabilities that they need.
"Technical data packages are really the blueprint for us to procure equipment or to send it out to industry so that industry is able build a product according to our specifications," said Caleb Singer, team leader of the Technical Services Team.
"TDPs control everything that we make and everything we use," said Galyan. "The TDPs take an item to a functional level, including making a prototype or incorporating an item into an already widely used piece of equipment, such as a rucksack that is used by every Soldier."
"It's essentially formalizing a prototype," said Singer. "So here at NSRDEC, they will build an item, test it, bring it out to the Soldiers and have Soldiers test and use it, and then make modifications based on Soldier feedback. Then once you have that prototype, you have to formalize it into a technical data package listing all the different pieces of equipment that are required to build this item. It has to be standardized and approved. This is one of our core missions at NSRDEC."
The team works closely with the center's scientists and engineers from several teams, as well as several Product Managers and outside entities.
"The whole process is really intricate," said Galyan. "It takes a lot of different people to do their piece of it. There's a lot of back and forth with the engineers and the people actually making the items. Everyone has to be on the same sheet of music to make things happen efficiently."
Singer is proud to lead such a talented and competent team.
"It's a very technical job," said Singer. "You have to understand multiple systems and manage configurations, including storing all the data and making sense of it."
As technology advances, the TDP process is always evolving.
"The direction in which things are going is very exciting," said Singer. "Developments like 3D printing will expedite and improve testing methods and allow for easier replication. All this will enable us to build and track our products better."
"Our 2D legacy work is important, but we need to also embrace the 3D trends, stay on top of them, and be prepared for whatever comes next," said Galyan.
The U.S. Army Solider Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.