Naval Facilities Engineering Command

NAVFAC EXWC Awarded Excellence in Technology Transfer by the FLC for Federally Developed Lock Agent

05/14/19

By Sarah G. MacMillan, NAVFAC EXWC Public Affairs

ORLANDO, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Facilities (NAVFAC) Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (EXWC) team member John Schmutz, Physical Security Specialist of the DOD Lock Program, has been awarded Excellence in Technology Transfer by the Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) for his development and government transition of a cost-saving spindle locator tool.

The FLC Excellence in Technology Transfer Award recognizes employees of FLC member laboratories and non-laboratory staff who have accomplished outstanding work in the process of transferring federally developed technology. Over 300 nominees were judged by a panel of experts from industry, state and local government, academia, and the federal laboratory system of judges, with only one winner chosen.

The U.S. Federal Government has defined technical specifications for types of security containers and electromechanical locks that must be used to store high-value national security information. This list of U.S. facilities, including U.S. Navy ships, is extensive, spreading across 17 different federal organizations nationally. With over 86,000 of these locks in operation across the U.S. intelligence community, the DOD discovered several “problem” locks not isolated to a few installations or a single government agency.

Each problem lock utilizes valuable time and high monetary resources. Additionally, many agencies do not have the immediate resources or personnel with specific expertise on-site to fix these locks. The lockout failures are due to installation issues where after installation, the spindle (inner component that engages the dial to enter the combination) is not properly seated in the lock. These blind installations of failure locks can’t be opened after the lock is installed.

Schmutz, aware of the critical problem, devised a solution known as the Spindle Locator Tool. The tool has one specific job—to ensure the spindle is properly seated inside the lock. During the installation, the tool is threated into the spindle through the back of the lock. If the spindle is seated correctly, it engages. The Spindle Locator Tool can also be used post-installation as an inspection tool.

“I appreciate my opportunity working for NAVFAC EXWC” said Schmutz. “It’s surreal to see how my invention contributes with securing National Security Information and supports the intelligence community with meeting their mission requirements.” 

Schmutz’s technology was transferred to Lockmasters, Inc.—a safe, vault and locksmith company based in Kentucky that serves federal government, automotive and general safe and locksmith industries nationally. Lockmasters, aware of the DOD Lock Program, worked alongside Schmutz and his NAVFAC EXWC team in 2015 to begin the official transfer of the Spindle Locator Tool prototype to Lockmasters for demonstration, evaluation, and incorporation of user feedback. The following year a license agreement was signed with Lockmasters.

NAVFAC EXWC is now in a three-year license agreement with Lockmasters, with the plan to pursue commercialization with other industry partners in the near future.

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