Working with the Corps R&D lab at Waterways Experiment Station (WES) has been both pleasurable and profitable. Seven years ago our small firm, Kessler Soils Engineering, Inc., applied for and was awarded a manufacturing/marketing license for the Dual Mass Dynamic Cone Penetrometer (DMDCP) which scientists at WES had developed and patented. The instrument is used to determine in place strength (CBR) of the soil for roads and airfields. We pay royalties to the Corps and in turn were provided shop drawings on how to build the DMDCP. Whereas the Corps does not endorse our specific DCP, we enjoy the benefit of the Corps reputation and documented research showing that our instrument, made to Corps specs, will produce accurate and reliable results.
Almost all US military engineer units now use the instrument manufactured by our firm and we recently received a 5-year contract with GSA. Other government agency clients include the Federal Highway Dept, Forest Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Over 24 state departments of transportation have purchased DCP kits and Minnesota is the first to adopt it for inspecting the placement of base course material. Texas and Iowa also use our DCP extensively in road design. Commercial clients include railway companies, large consulting firms, geotech labs and general contractors. We have sold DCP kits all over the world through our website and our overseas distributor, Humboldt Mfg. in Chicago. We expect that we will double all previous DCP sales once the ASTM test method for the DCP is approved—hopefully next January.
It has been a lot of work and in the early years I relied heavily on the expertise at WES when fielding hard questions from clients. These same folks at WES were receptive to suggestions we made to improve the data reduction software. From the beginning, we had a great relationship and are happy that we have made friends as well as profits for the Corps and ourselves. Last year we were awarded a $500,000 contract for our soil test set that has the DCP kit as its centerpiece.
Looking to the future we see a market for a semi-automated DCP. Once again we are turning to WES, this time under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to jointly develop a product to meet this need. If we come up with a patentable product, the Corps will get the Patent (and the royalties) and we will have exclusive marketing rights. Because these products will enhance the government and industry's ability to build better roads and airfields at a lower cost, it is a win-win situation. From our perspective, this technology transferred from the US Army Corps of Engineers is "Good for the Country and Good for Business."
P A Kessler
President, Kessler Soil Engineering, Inc.