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Navy pursues improved cargo visibility

Last spring, the DOD AIT Executive Working Group established the Supply Chain Operations Team to develop, promulgate, and implement a business plan to enhance supply chain operational business processes with appropriate AIT media.

The Navy, in coordination with U.S. Transportation Command and Defense Logistics Agency, augmented its supply chain processes with Automatic Identification Technology and integrated that technology with enterprise resource planning systems.

The three organizations intend for three new initiatives to enable better business decisions through improved end-to-end supply chain visibility. These efforts support a larger Department of Defense AIT Implementation Plan.

Last spring, the DOD AIT Executive Working Group established the Supply Chain Operations Team to develop, promulgate, and implement a business plan to enhance supply chain operational business processes with appropriate AIT media. This approach drives collaboration across military services and agencies in order to leverage successful AIT projects from proven governmental or commercial AIT applications.   

While DLA and the Navy AIT offices have closely coordinated AIT efforts for more than six years, current Navy AIT efforts that support the AIT Implementation Plan include:


• Navy ERP SAP* warehouse management or inventory management wireless and real-time bar code enablement, including AIT technology insertion at more than 100 Navy warehousing operations where legacy warehouse management systems are being converted to Navy ERP SAP WM.


• Development, implementation and sustainment of the Navy’s passive radio frequency identification asset visibility enterprise system. In the Navy repairables management supply chain, RAVE improves the ability to track high-dollar value and mission critical assets as they move between end users, stock points and organic or commercial maintenance sites.   


• Conversion of the Navy’s end-to-end ordnance supply chain from linear to the Joint two dimensional bar code label, including the insertion of AIT hardware at more than 1,000 ashore and afloat activities.

Navy ERP WM/IM implementations will replace legacy automated information systems such as relational supply systems at naval air stations, uniform automated data processing systems at fleet logistics centers, real-time reutilization asset management systems and regional hazardous inventory control systems used by various Navy facilities. The new, single touch point will provide immediate visibility of billions of dollars of Navy and DOD assets to the warfighter. 

This “singling up” of Navy legacy AISs is complimented by the insertion of real-time wireless 2D and linear bar code technology used for conducting routine warehouse and inventory business transactions (receipt, stow, pick, issue and shipment). The follow-on insertion of pRFID at selected repairables processing sites will improve not only receipt processing, but also the visibility of assets as they move through the supply chain.

The goal of these Navy AIT implementations is to increase operational readiness — and, by extension, fleet customer support — through improved total asset visibility at in-transit, in-storage and in-maintenance or repair sites. The intended synergy of Navy ERP and AIT is to provide the warfighter with not only greater asset visibility but supply chain event management efficiencies, more accurate information and reduced support costs.

The first of four Navy ERP phase II deployment go-live events was successfully implemented at 18 Navy sites in July and the second, at an additional 49 Navy sites, in October. The third and fourth go-live events will convert another 39 Navy warehousing operations in fiscal year 2012. 

The wireless system reduces manual data entry errors, the chance that data transactions will be reported out of sequence at high transaction volume and robust warehouse operations, and the need for inventory and financial reconciliation. It also provides efficiencies that accelerate worker productivity and inventory metrics and decrease average customer wait time and receipt-to-stow times. The wireless mobile device solution has the ability to generate receipt transactions directly into the Navy ERP or the repairables system of record.

Developing and accrediting the wireless AIT Navy Mobile Computing system solution for Navy ERP proved a big challenge. A wireless AIT solution was not available through the Navy’s network connectivity initially, so the Navy AIT program office used commercial Code Division Multiple Access digital cellular technology instead. Buildings were updated as necessary, mobile handheld computing devices were procured and shipped, and local Naval Supply Systems Command teams conducted training.


Sites that require repeaters to boost the cellular signal typically average $8,000 for a small warehouse, $15,000 for a large warehouse, and $22,000 for a nonincendiary warehouse that requires explosion-proof electrical fittings and conduit. Monthly cellular accounts bills are approximately $45 per month per device for unlimited data transmission. The yearly estimated sustainment cost for the wireless cellular solution is $300,000 compared to $500,000 using an 802.11 wireless solution (the typical International and American Standards for data capture) for all the scheduled deployment sites.

In addition to serving as a central data collection and repository for Navy-wide pRFID asset visibility transactions, the RAVE system centrally manages and/or automates all handheld devices from the enterprise level, including IA sustainment and security reviews, software upgrades and security updates, and problem detection and remedies. By placing the IA sustainment burden at the enterprise level, the RAVE design enables each field activity to better focus on the activity mission.

RAVE accommodates both Navy ERP and repairable site systems, as well as almost any Navy requirement that uses a wireless web browser on a mobile device to access an unclassified AIS.

The unique NMC architecture opened the door for mobilizing AIT applications across the Navy and providing platforms for meeting Navy enterprise mobility goals such as:


1. Reducing concept-to-deployment time – getting AIT tools to the end user customer faster
2. Eliminating separate mobile IA approvals for every mobile application/system
3. Standardizing mobile applications development and architecture
4. Facilitating the sharing of common mobile applications across the enterprise (“there’s an app for that” is a culture shift that facilitates constant business process improvement)
5. Reducing the support staff required to deploy and maintain mobile applications through enterprise management

*Mention of commercial products, services or companies in this article reflects current use, but does not imply endorsement by the Navy, USTRANSCOM or the DOD.

For more information contact the writer at Lorrey.Bentzel@navy.mil



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