Beretta dreams big with Tennessee supercomputer

Along with shifting its entire manufacturing capabilities to Gallatin, Tennessee, Beretta U.S.A. has plans for a new research and development facility as well, to develop projects like an ARX rifle and all-purpose tool for the U.S. military.

“We will be making a version of the ARX here and we have a variant on the ARX for military applications that has an integral battery system, so soldiers don’t have to carry a bunch of D-cell batteries with them,” said Jeff Reh, general counsel and manager at Beretta, at the ground breaking ceremony Aug. 28. “And it has bluetooth capabilities, so they could even have instant communications with headquarters when they’re in harm’s way.”

The ARX rifle is a new take on the AR-platform. Beretta introduced it in January 2012 and released it to market almost a year and a half later.

Reh added that the project is currently in the R&D phase. “Once we proof out the concept, if and when we go to production, we’ll do it here,” he said.

Along with tax breaks for businesses and individuals, a capable workforce, and ideal geographical locale, Tennessee also has a technical advantage for companies with engineering and manufacturing wings.

“We had a great meeting … with some top people at Oak Ridge and we’re looking at the use of their advanced computing capabilities, along with our engineering skills in the firearms/small arms area to maybe develop some state of the art products for the U.S. armed forces,” Reh said.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, located about 155 miles east of Gallatin, is home to the second most powerful supercomputer in the world, aptly called Titan. It’s designed to crunch large data sets and compute a seemingly infinite number of variations.

For a manufacturer, it would help “better understand the manufacturing process and materials used,” said Jeff Cornett, an Oak Ridge manager for industrial and economic development.

Beretta plans to move machinery into the 158,000-square-foot Gallatin facility once construction is completed in April 2015, and open shop later that year.

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