Army employees set new standard, save DOD millions
April 27, 2009
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - Logistics Support Activity and Defense Logistics Agency employees teamed up to win the 2008 Defense Standardization Program Achievement Award for helping the Department of Defense save millions of dollars in repacking and re-palletizing costs.
As members of the Joint U.S. Army/DLA Team they spearheaded a project that converted a military handbook to a standard, saving the Defense Distribution Depot Susquehanna in New Cumberland, Pa., an estimated $4.1 million annually.
The reinstated military standard that outlines techniques, methods and materials for palletizing military supplies, "MIL-STD-147E, Palletized Unit Loads," was published in May 2008.
The five winning team members were Tom Kozlowski, industrial engineer; Joe Wolak, distribution facilities specialist; Ken Hill and Ann Podrasky, packaging specialists from LOGSA; and Timothy Keller, product specialist from DLA.
Since 1987, the Defense Standardization Program Office has recognized individuals and organizations that have effected significant improvement in quality, reliability, readiness, cost reduction and interoperability through standardization.
Employees here were the logical choice to head the project because the LOGSA Packaging, Storage, and Containerization Center is the lead agency for documents within the Defense Standardization Program. PSCC also functions as the Army custodian for the standard.
"It was wonderful to see the finished product in print," Podrasky said. "The standard helps anyone who has to palletize items for the government," she said, explaining that the handbook was just for guidance and people could choose whether to follow it or not. "The standard must be followed."
The MIL-STD-147 existed as a military standard for many years. The document was published in 1957, while the last revision was published in 1988 and validated in 1994. In 1996, during the Acquisition Reform in the 1990s, MIL-STD-147 was converted to a handbook.
Kozlowski explained that the guidance in the handbook could be cited in contracts, but not enforced. This resulted in commercial vendors using inconsistent palletizing methods that often didn't work in DOD's automated materials handling system.
To reduce repacking costs and streamline processes, military and private industry agreed that vendors should be required to follow standard procedures to ensure a uniform approach to palletizing items for shipment. Team members cited safety as another factor in the change. The standard now provides stable unit loads that reduce the liability of material handling, and reduce the safety risk for military and civilian employees either working with or near unit loads.
"The new standard hits the mark," said Wolak. "As a compliance document it provides stringent guidelines that when followed, will result in substantial cost savings."
According to Kozlowski, reinstating MIL-STD-147 was a team effort with everyone bringing their own expertise to the table.
"Ken is one of DoD's subject-matter experts when it comes to packaging," Kozlowski said, adding that Ann was responsible for coordinating the draft and worked with all services and activities involved in the process. "Tim went out to the vendors with our proposal and Wolak headed the coordination effort with Headquarters AMC [Army Materiel Command] and the Domestic Standardization Program Office that resulted in the conversion approval."
"Industry standards are different from DOD standards," Hill said. "Commercial companies don't deal with the type of cargo or ship to some of the locations the military does. We provide critical support to Soldiers in the field by supplying them with the things they need to complete their mission."
Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense DepartmentAca,!a,,cs 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. TobyhannaAca,!a,,cs missions support all branches of the armed forces.
About 5,600 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 commandAca,!a,,cs mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the armed forces.