3D Printing, Unmanned Aircraft to Revolutionise Logistics
Logistical support for forward-deployed Marines will be revolutionized in the coming years by new technologies like 3-D printing, unmanned aircraft and “smart” logistics gear that can be networked to solve problems faster, a top Marine said.
“We’re looking to see what is the art of the possible and try to apply those visionary capabilities that are being developed to what we need to do,” Brig. Gen. Terry Williams, the Marine Corps’ assistant deputy commandant for installations and logistics, told Marine Corps Times.
Williams spoke Wednesday at a panel at the Navy League’s annual Sea, Air, Space Symposium just outside Washington, spotlighting ways the Navy and Marine Corps are working to harness modern technology to improve readiness and increase Marine Air-Ground Task Force preparedness.
Today’s Marines are carrying 100 pounds on their backs and are going further distances than ever before, Williams said during the panel. The CH-53K and F-35 are “exquisite platforms,” he said, but create an “uncomfortable” problem for logisticians, especially when the Corps continues to mix old and new technology.
“We’re getting heavier, we’re getting bloated, and it requires more,” Williams said.
The Corps is looking for ways to stay light and ready. For Lt. Gen. Michael Dana, the deputy commandant of installations and logistics, a top priority is in command and control logistics and information technology.
“To try to modernize that with emerging technologies is his No. 1 priority,” Williams said.
One big “game changer” will be 3-D printing technology, Williams said during Wednesday’s panel. It’s disruptive in a good way and can improve performance and print “obsolete stuff” from older platforms.
It will also allow Marines to manufacture things in a less complicated way. Where we had five parts before, we may now be able to print in one, he said.