Wireless network expands depot capabilities
Gerard Szumski, left, an information technology specialist, and J.R. Myers, a network installer, set up equipment and wiring for the Tobyhanna Army Depot’s new wireless network. Szumski works in the depot’s Information Management Customer Support Division and Meyers works for a private organization contracted to install the system.

TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, PA.-Tobyhanna Army Depot and the Army Materiel Command joined forces to modernize the installation\'s network infrastructure by adding Wireless Local Area Network capabilities.

The implementation of a wireless network will expand the depot's connectivity footprint throughout the installation. Currently, the depot uses multiple wireless and radio frequency devices, such as Land Mobile Radios, 2.4 GHz headsets, radio frequency identification device tags and handheld scanners to aid in accomplishing missions.

"WLAN is not replacing the wired Local Area Network, but providing the capability that will be the enabler for other initiatives," says Janice Gimbi, director of the depot's Information Management Directorate.

"As a result of this effort, the depot can expect a more efficient, secure, and standardized company-wide network that will support the Automatic Identification Technology and Item Unique Identification capabilities," says Cathy Fulk, chief of D/IM's Architecture, System and Application Design Division. "This endeavor will also align Tobyhanna with AMC's Log Domain Communication Architecture plan."

Fulk explained that command-level officials plan to modernize the depots by establishing an end-to-end communications backbone, centralized locations and integrating/optimizing the business environment.

"Initially, information technology specialists began installing wireless capabilities in Building 1C Bay 6 and the Automated Storage and Retrieval System area," she said, noting that site survey recommendations indicated the new capabilities must be compatible with initiatives such as Lean, Logistics Modernization Program, Six Sigma and Manufacturing Execution System.

Soon afterwards, the WLAN modernization plan expanded to encompass a company-wide solution because of a combined effort by AMC and D/IM.

A Site Installation Team of engineers from private organizations worked closely with depot information technology specialists to identify numerous sites throughout the depot for wireless technology. They performed electronics device discovery and spectrum analysis to develop a preliminary design for a centralized enterprise wireless extension of the depot's network.

Wireless installation began May 12 and concluded July 10. The communications equipment encompasses 39 areas in 20 buildings, including outside sites on post.

"When this is all done, Information Management and the Site Installation Team will have installed two wireless controllers, approximately 200 access points, and numerous wireless intrusion detection devices," said Gerard Szumski, information technology specialist, D/IM's Customer Support Division.

The WLAN will not be available immediately for desktop or laptop because guidance calls for Automatic AIT insertion first in support of strategic logistics. AIT will provide a fully synchronized means to collect and access continuous real-time information on the location, movement status, and identity of assets which includes the ability to act on that information.

Wireless networking removes the encumbrance of wire connections on portable devices and enables employees to travel beyond traditional network boundaries without losing network connectivity.

For instance, employees can take handheld scanners to the item and scan barcode data which will feed directly to the Logistics Modernization Program.

"The WLAN will not only save time, but it will reduce entry errors into LMP," says Frank Babarsky, information technology specialist, D/IM's Architecture, System and Application Design Division.

Installation of a WLAN is the first of three phases of the Industrial Base Information Technology Modernization Program, which includes AIT.

The objective of the AIT project is to synchronize the development and implementation of automation that will rapidly and efficiently enhance the business processes and operations of the industrial base.

Phase two involves AMC, D/IM, Productivity Improvement and Innovation, and a private organization working together to determine depot missions that will receive the greatest benefit from AIT automation.

At a minimum, primary areas for consideration include central receiving, material movement, inventory, shop floor execution, production and labor reporting, tool crib management, and integration to LMP. AIT will provide data accuracy, increased throughput and standardized technology.

The final phase is standing up a fully integrated and functional system. Similar efforts are also underway at four major Army maintenance depots: Corpus Christi, Letterkenny, Anniston and Red River.

"I appreciate AMC covering wireless installation costs, including purchasing the hardware and software for this initiative," Fulk said. "I also thank the maintenance shops, D/IM and Public Works personnel, AMC, and the Site Installation Team for their cooperation, dedication, and support in making the project a success."

Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network.

Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces. About 5,800 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command.

Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.

Page last updated Fri August 15th, 2008 at 14:39