There’s been a lot of talk lately, with the changes being made in Congress on the regulatory controls concerning ITAR (that’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations) and military products….okay, wake up! I think it would be unconstitutional to subject you readers with the details of the laws and regulations surrounding ITAR, so you can relax now.

On a more serious note, there are changes in the horizon on how companies, like Molex and its customers, handle the mil-aero requirements that may be controlled under U.S. and other laws. We’ve been seeing a migration from export-controlled products, usually originating from a commercial design, to more general COTS solutions (i.e. commercial- off-the-shelf) that the U.S. military and other Ministries of Defense are looking at when it comes to procurement. We should applaud this, since some of this push is coming from the Dept. of Defense directly, as well as other countries, such as Canada, who a few years ago, went on record that they preferred to deal with companies dealing in items not controlled by the ITAR, given the regulatory hurdles required when purchasing such items.

This poses an interesting question—how much “harm” is being done with the U.S. position to control such benign products such as terminals or cables that can be found in the open market, merely because they happen to serve a military purpose? Appears Congress is taking a hard look into this, with the discussions of streamlining and easing controls on what should truly be controlled under the ITAR. This should be applauded in that not only will it benefit U.S. companies by winning more defense contracts overseas (given less export controls and burdens on customers), but in turn, will likely spur U.S. manufacturing and competitiveness in the global marketplace for military products.

Don’t get me wrong—there are products and circumstances that absolutely require the government to control, but in an industry such as Molex’s, connectors, terminals and cables, which happen to be applicable to both commercial and military (both of which come from a standard COTS catalogue of product offerings and offered by companies globally), needs to be closely looked at as to whether the government’s resources should be spent on regulating more sensitive goods and technology.

Even if the “ITAR” controls are not relaxed, the best and most innovative manufacturers will need to continue finding ways of supporting their customers with the least burdensome regulatory requirements. Offering a broader portfolio of commercial products, capable of meeting both civil and mil-aero requirements, will be the key—laying the foundation for such product lines now is critical, given that the regulatory landscape for ITAR is drastically changing. As more products are “decontrolled” (for lack of a better word), engineering your products to fall within those less restrictive controls is paramount, (and a best practice). The end result will be a higher market share, greater satisfaction for your customers and an increase in bottom line savings and shareholder value.