Keeping the pallets moving

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (October 18, 2013) -- The Army will save $3.1 million in shipping and storage costs over the next five years thanks to a collaborative effort between Project Director, Communications Security (PD COMSEC) and Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD).

To protect sensitive or classified data, COMSEC controlled inventory items must be stored in secure areas. However, non-secure items were occasionally being shipped on pallets carrying secure items, requiring the entire pallet be securely stored.

"If you have one piece of COMSEC equipment, then all the equipment in that shipment container is also considered a controlled inventory item," said Maj. Jay Coats, the assistant program manager for fielding and training at PD COMSEC, which is assigned to the Army Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T). "You might get 99 pieces of equipment in a shipment and only one item is considered COMSEC, which forces Tobyhanna to store all the remaining non COMSEC items, until the misdirected items are returned to the organizations to whom they belong to."

In order for Coats to solve this issue, he had to work closely with Tobyhanna.

"This project was an excellent opportunity for Tobyhanna Army Depot and our customer, PEO C3T, to work together on a common problem," said Brad Jones, the director of the Productivity, Improvement and Innovation Directorate at TYAD. "Misdirected shipments represent a 'defect' in the logistical system and distract us from performing the value-added work our customers require of us. This team used Lean Six Sigma tools to minimize the time spent resolving these mis-routings."

At Tobyhanna, Coats found 181 pallets of equipment that weren't controlled inventory items. Working with Tobyhanna employees, Coats developed a new process to identify non-secure equipment when it arrived and set a hard deadline for its removal to ensure that the items didn't sit in limbo, taking up valuable warehouse space.

"The biggest step was communication," Coats said. "Tobyhanna is a large operation with a lot of moving parts and we had to ensure that everyone was on the same page and understood their roles when misdirected shipments are delivered to the TYAD COMSEC facility."

Coats identified critical areas that contributed most toward long cycle times and excessive storage space usage, and developed a plan to streamline these efforts.

"The improved process will let the original senders know that the TYAD COMSEC facility received the misdirected equipment and request disposition instructions using Department of Defense web Supply Discrepancy Report (SDR) tool," Coats said. "The improved process will allow original senders a window of 50 days to respond to SDRs."

While tracking and removing equipment can be a time-consuming and costly process, Coats has been working with Tobyhanna to streamline the effort to make it as efficient as possible.

"When I started this project, Tobyhanna had 181 pallets of various types of misdirected equipment taking up space and a cycle time of 702 days on average," Coats said. "Teamwork was the main ingredient that improved TYAD's misdirected shipment process. We've decreased storage space consumed by misdirected shipments 70 percent, reduced processing time 94 percent and decreased cost 87 percent."

Thanks to the collaboration between the PD COMSEC and Tobyhanna, the Army will save more than $2.9 million in cost avoidance for Fiscal Years 14-19 and another $228,000 in cost savings for shipping and storage expenses.

Page last updated Fri October 18th, 2013 at 00:00