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CHIPS Articles: Automated Inventory Avoids Costs, Reduces Inventory Time for Logisticians

Automated Inventory Avoids Costs, Reduces Inventory Time for Logisticians
By Jacqui Barker, Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division Public Affairs - March 17, 2015
PANAMA CITY, Fla. – A first-of-its-kind automated inventory system designed for U.S. Navy asset tracking for Program Executive Office Littoral Combat Ship assets is one step closer to final fleet implementation.

Mission Package Automated Inventory Information System (MPAIIS) was created by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) using passive Radio Frequency Identification Device (pRFID) technology and the cost savings are already being realized.

“Prior to MPAIIS, inventory of the ALMDS/AMNS support container required two people for a duration of four hours; it now takes one person about five minutes using MPAIIS—a minute or two longer if pelican cases need to be opened and items shifted around in order to read the tags. This represents a 98.9 percent reduction in inventory time,” said Ryan Mabry, lead software engineer, NSWC PCD.

These results are consistent with prior pRFID tagging demonstrations at the MPSF. Presently the MPSF is tagging items while executing initial outfitting of Mission Package Support Containers in preparation for MCM MP testing.

Combined NSWC PCD and Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Automated Identification Technology (AIT) efforts resulted in the Authority to Operate (ATO) information assurance (IA) accreditation being granted in October 2014 from Commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command. This IA accreditation allows Mission Package Support Facility (MPSF) personnel to go forward with passive Radio Frequency Identification (pRFID) tagging of all Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Mission Package (MP) support container assets, allowing for future reductions in inventory time, increased inventory accuracy, and reduced inventory costs.

“NSWC PCD developed unique software applications for the laptop and handheld readers. The Management Application segregates the database management functionality from the Inventory Application,” said MPAIIS project manager Bill Israelson at NSWC PCD. “This separation provides a simplified user experience for the person conducting the inventory, as well as a layer of protection for the person responsible for managing the database.”

The MPSF maintains and integrates Mission Package (MP) equipment that is used onboard the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), allowing the ship to be configured for various missions ranging from Surface Warfare (SUW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), and Mine Countermeasures (MCM). MPAIIS is a stand-alone, accredited, pRFID inventory system that will operate inside metal tool cabinets without requiring special modifications to the cabinets.

The government-developed software also provides considerable automated inventory solution cost avoidance as “per seat” software licenses are not required. Initial implementation of the system comprises pRFID tags, handheld readers, a fixed reader with an antenna attached, a laptop, and software. The inventory is downloaded to the handheld reader via a USB cable, the containers are scanned, and the updated inventory is then uploaded back to the laptop via USB cable. MPAIIS supports a wireless configuration, but that configuration is yet to be authorized aboard Navy ships.

In December 2014, the team provided automated inventory support to the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Mission Package Support Facility (MPSF) at Naval Base Ventura County, California, in preparation for upcoming LCS test events. MPAIIS and MPSF personnel applied pRFID tags to spares, tools, and support equipment in the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System/Airborne Mine Neutralization System (ALMDS/AMNS) support container.

“This has certainly been a joint effort among the NAVSEA Warfare Centers, NAVSUP, and the Fleet users,” said Israelson. “The NAVSEA Warfare Centers involved in this project include Panama City, Fla., Dahlgren, Va.; and Port Hueneme, Calif., along with the Naval Sea Logistics Center.”

MPAIIS will be implemented locally in support of the NSWC PCD biennial Explosives Safety Inspection conducted by the Naval Ordnance Safety and Security Activity (NOSSA). The application of pRFID technology will support 100 percent accurate inventory threshold and Non Explosive Ordnance Item control processes.

"We are implementing this RFID system as part of our risk mitigation strategy. Being able to use pRFID tags and a handheld scanner to verify our inventory will not only save our technicians an enormous amount of time conducting the inventory, it will ensure inventory accuracy each and every time," said Randolph C. Hetzel, explosive test consultant at NSWC PCD.

The MPAIIS team is working now to achieve large-scale implementation by the MPSF by October 2015. Presently, the team supports MPAIIS installations at Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) PMS codes 420 and 505, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), U.S. Naval Central Command (NAVCENT), and the U.S. Transportation Command’s Mobile Landing Platform (MLP).

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division www.navsea.navy.mil/nswc/panamacity/default.aspx or www.facebook.com/nswcpcd

Dustin Barnes, a research analyst with Innovative Professional Solutions, Inc., shows off one of several types Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) tags used by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) team. This particular RFID tag is commonly referred to as a chiclet and was selected for its compatibility with metal. Photo by Ron Newsome, NSWC PCD.
Dustin Barnes, a research analyst with Innovative Professional Solutions, Inc., shows off one of several types Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) tags used by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) team. This particular RFID tag is commonly referred to as a chiclet and was selected for its compatibility with metal. Photo by Ron Newsome, NSWC PCD.

Dustin Barnes, a research analyst with Innovative Professional Solutions, Inc., shows off one of several types Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) tags used by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) team. This particular RFID tag is commonly referred to as a chiclet and was selected for its compatibility with metal. Photo by Ron Newsome, NSWC PCD.
Dustin Barnes, a research analyst with Innovative Professional Solutions, Inc., shows off one of several types Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) tags used by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) team. This particular RFID tag is commonly referred to as a chiclet and was selected for its compatibility with metal. Photo by Ron Newsome, NSWC PCD.

Dustin Barnes, a research analyst with Innovative Professional Solutions, Inc., scans Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) tags attached to tools as part of an inventory demonstration. The tags are part of the Mission Package Automated Inventory Information System (MPAIIS) which reduces inventory labor costs. The system, developed at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD), recently received authority to operate by U.S. Navy standards. Photo by Ron Newsome, NSWC PCD.
Dustin Barnes, a research analyst with Innovative Professional Solutions, Inc., scans Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) tags attached to tools as part of an inventory demonstration. The tags are part of the Mission Package Automated Inventory Information System (MPAIIS) which reduces inventory labor costs. The system, developed at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD), recently received authority to operate by U.S. Navy standards. Photo by Ron Newsome, NSWC PCD.

Dustin Barnes, a research analyst with Innovative Professional Solutions, Inc., scans Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) tags attached to tools as part of an inventory demonstration. The tags are part of the Mission Package Automated Inventory Information System (MPAIIS) which reduces inventory labor costs. The system, developed at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD), recently received authority to operate by U.S. Navy standards. Photo by Ron Newsome, NSWC PCD.
Dustin Barnes, a research analyst with Innovative Professional Solutions, Inc., scans Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) tags attached to tools as part of an inventory demonstration. The tags are part of the Mission Package Automated Inventory Information System (MPAIIS) which reduces inventory labor costs. The system, developed at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD), recently received authority to operate by U.S. Navy standards. Photo by Ron Newsome, NSWC PCD.
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