For the second year in a row, Visible Good was invited to the Extreme Cold Weather/High Altitude Symposium sponsored by USARAK, the Army’s Alaska Command. This year the Visible Good team, supported by Unifire, our distributor, brought a cold weather-equipped RDM, complete with lighting, power distribution and HVAC system for demonstration. When one of the avionics group chiefs saw the RDM and all of its plug & play systems – he took it. The full system is now being used at Ft. Wainwright as a temperature controlled crew chief office/ready room inside the vast, historic, Hangar 1 building at Wainwright (pictured below). After initial testing and evaluation there, the shelter will be disassembled and prepped for shipment to a remote mountain site for use in cold weather survival training exercises.
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December 2016: Congressman Seth Moulton, District 6, gets a private showing of the Visible Good Shelter. Due to the Congressman’s busy schedule he hasn’t been able to make time to visit Visible Good at our Newburyport warehouse. We understand, so when the opportunity arose to visit the Peabody City Hall for the 6th District Economic Development Federal Resource Forum, Visible Good decided to bring a shelter to him. Here’s a photo of the Shelter setup directly parallel to the City Hall and only steps from Moulton’s parking spot – indeed the efforts were rewarded and Congressman Moulton spent some time with the Visible Good team inside the shelter on his way into the forum.
September 2016 – Visible Good wins Mass Ventures STAGE 2 Grant 2016 Winners Mass Ventures
June 4th, 2015: Visible Good delivers donated shelter to The Food Project in Wenham, MA.
After a very successful Phase I effort, Cricket has been solicited by the US Army to further pursue our technology for shelters that can be quickly and easily deployed to harsh environments. The SBIR Phase II program with the Army would create $1M in funding for two years and result in working structures that can withstand the most extreme conditions on the planet. We continue to develop the RDM and pursue initial funding and sales goals as we await word on the Proposal. As described by one engineer at the US Army Soldiers Systems Center in Natick MA, some current “next generation” shelter technologies are “..expensive and unreliable…” Contrasting to these more complicated systems, one veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan said of the RDM: “…it can be repaired with duct tape, I like that!”
Following a six month long testing and analysis period with the US Army, the RDM proved its potential value to the US military and to other users that may deploy to harsh environments around the world. As part of the US Army’s “Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR)” program, Cricket was awarded a grant to study the RDM’s feasibility for extreme environment deployment. Specifically, the RDM had to be easily transported and set up by two persons in 30 minutes or less; it had to be able to withstand winds of up to 100mph and it had to endure a temperature range of between -25°F to 140°F as energy efficiently as possible. Additional considerations were snow load strength and low cost. Working with both a full-sized unit set up for the winter in a nearby meadow and lab testing of materials, the RDM met all criteria of the SBIR Topic with flying colors. Test builds of a number of units showed setup times of as little as 20 minutes. The test unit survived winds and snows all winter, culminating in a storm that dumped 8″ of wet snow driven by 50+mph winds on it and did so without a hitch. Our computer analysis of the system also shows that, with proper ground anchoring, the RDM as currently configured can withstand 100+mph winds with less than 1/2″ deflection along it’s longest side. Lastly, tests in the lab and of the field unit showed that the RDM as-is is more than five times more energy efficient than current military-type tents, and with a few tweaks to our system, it can be more than TEN times more energy efficient. According to Brig. Gen. Steve Anderson (US Army Ret.), former head of logistics for Gen David Patraeus, the US military spends more than $20B USD annually heating and cooling tents. If we can help to deploy shelter units for troop quarters, medical, admin and other uses that are up to ten times more energy efficient than what is in use now, that’s a huge factor when considering cost, logistics, carbon footprint and most especially the lives of our service men and women. According to the Army Engineers we were working with, they were excited to see that we were “finishing strong.”
This June, British Petroleum (BP) placed an order for 26 RDM 9.14 units in four different configurations, following a very successful month-long test of a prototype RDM shelter in Gulf Shores AL. The prototype test period saw hurricane conditions and a near miss by several tornadoes. The RDM (Rapid Deployment Module) is a small, easily set up semi-permanent building that arrives in its own crate (which is actually the floor) and goes together in about 20 minutes with no tools, no additional hardware and no special skills. Following the initial response to the Deep Water Horizon oil spill, BP began planning for the long term cleanup and maintenance operations in the Gulf Region. A priority was placed on the ability to consolidate personnel, base camps and resources while also maintaining reach over the entire US Gulf Coast. Because the RDM is easily transported, set up and taken down again for re-use, it was recognized as the ideal solution for BP’s team of environmental cleanup first responders. The first truckload of RDM shelters left Newburyport for the Gulf in September, followed by another truckload in October, the last shipment was ready by November 1. While touring the blacked-out Newburyport assembly facility in the wake of the recent ice storm here in New England, Michael Klaassen (head of deployment and site management for BP/CBRE) commented that he was glad to see Cricket could get it done, even when the disaster was in our own building. Here’s what he has to say about selecting the RDM:
“The RDM’s are versatile and simple, yet it is clear that there was much attention to detail that went into the development of the RDM’s, to make them fool proof for deployment in the field. No tools, or knowledge is required to put them together and that is the beauty of the RDM. You don’t need anything to make it work. Right now the alternative is a 20-foot shipping container, aka a Conex box. The use of 20-foot shipping containers as temporary housing, office space and storage is common; converting them by installing air conditioning units, doors and windows is a cottage industry. The RDM can come in many variations, latrines, showers, kitchens, bunk- beds etc. One of the biggest advantages is that you can ship an RDM on the back of a pickup truck—you can’t do that with Conex box, matter of fact you can ship 10 RDM’s in one shipping container!!”
As part of its “Small Business Innovative Research” program, the US Army reached out to private industry to develop design concepts for “Rapidly Deployable Structures for Austere Environments.” Due to the Army’s need for rapid response and deployment to some of the harshest environments on the planet, a new simple, tough, more energy efficient shelter system is required. The RDM was selected for development as part of a competitive process involving more than forty other companies. Described as “unique” and “incredibly flexible” by Army engineers associated with the program, the RDM’s design will be tested for strength, ease of use and energy efficiency based on conditions from the hottest AND coldest regions on earth.