OCC Works with U.S. Military to Solve a “Reel” Problem

OCC's Advanced Lightweight Reel Stand
OCC’s Advanced Lightweight Reel Stand



In the world of military product development, one thing is certain – no one knows more about what new products are needed than the soldiers themselves. When the U.S. Military asked us to take a look at the old RL-31, you can bet we were up to the task. The RL-31 (the military nomenclature for the older style steel reel stand) weighs in at around 60 pounds; they asked us, “Can you do something to make that lighter?”

The soldiers told the OCC team that they often have to carry the RL-31 up rugged terrain in Afghanistan and other places that are not vehicle friendly. Carrying the 60-pound RL-31, along with the extra weight of body armor, backpacks, and weapons is both challenging and risky. The task is hard to perform with much, if any, speed and exposure to enemy fire is always a concern in forward operating areas.

Using modern materials, the initial design prototype weighed in at just 19 pounds – an astounding sixty-six percent reduction in weight. The question was, would it be strong enough and durable enough to perform the mission day in and day out? OCC worked hard to develop realistic environmental and mechanical performance and test requirements that accurately reflected the needs of the modern warfighter. After some initial failures that required strengthening the design, the new reel stand withstood all the punishment that the OCC team could dish out. It was ready to test with the soldiers.

The evaluation team reported that the reel stands performed well in every mission scenario. The team requested a few minor design improvements, which were anticipated. Perhaps the most telling comment of all the feedback was when the team offered to take the evaluation units back with them. The NCO’s smiled and said, “No, we really want to continue training with these.” And of course, we agreed.