IMCOM-Europe transportation officials offer tips for summer move
June 29, 2009
HEIDELBERG, Germany - The yearly "summer surge" season for permanent change of station moves has dawned. And with the expected high volume of Soldiers and families simultaneously leaving and entering the region during the next few months, Installation Management Command-Europe is providing tips for customers to help ensure their shipment of household goods goes smoothly.
That advice, said Vivian McBride-Davis, chief of the IMCOM-Europe Logistics Division, is being provided as the PCS busy season, coupled with the implementation of the new Defense Personal Property System, or DPS, poses a challenge when scheduling household goods shipments this year.
DPS - implemented worldwide throughout the Department of Defense last November - is a centralized, integrated system that provides a one-stop source for managing personal property moves. It is a next-generation, fully integrated, centralized Web-based system for management of personal property DoD shipments, replacing the current legacy program called Transportation Operational Personal Property Standard System.
DPS is designed to provide the convenience of 24/7 access to personal property shipment information. Plus, McBride-Davis said, "it is a conduit for a direct relationship between DoD members and transportation service providers throughout the entire moving process."
The intent of DPS, said Charles St. John, chief of the IMCOM-Europe Transportation Branch, is to improve the quality of life for servicemembers, civilian employees and families during household goods movements or relocations. However, he cautioned, "there are bugs in the system resulting, in some customers experiencing slow system performance."
Consequently, the IMCOM-Europe Logistics Division has developed workarounds while working out the glitches.
And, St. John stressed, most shipping concerns are not DPS related. A common misperception among customers is that household goods carrier capacity is unlimited. Instead, the Army has a limited number of contracted carriers available. This, coupled with the fact that these same limited carriers also support other services and industry, and the fact that there is normally a high demand for household goods transportation shipments in a very tight window, means customers must plan well in advance to reduce the chances of disappointment, St. John said.
Another customer concern, according to Joe Dunn, a personal property specialist with the IMCOM-Europe Transportation Branch, is carriers not showing up first thing in the morning; not showing up until late evening; or not showing up at all (a rare occurrence, but it does happen, Dunn said).
"Although the carrier can show up at a customer's residence anytime between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. on the scheduled pack-out date," Dunn said, "if the carrier hasn't arrived by noon, it's recommended that customers call the quality control officer to ensure there are no unforeseen delays."
When scheduling shipment appointments, the installation Personal Property Processing Office will provide the QC inspector's name and telephone number. If you are unable to contact the QC inspector, Dunn said it best to contact PPPO.
"The worse thing you can do," Dunn said, "is to not call to check what is causing the delay. There have been rare occasions when the carrier's truck broke down; however, the carrier makes every effort to ensure the customer is notified.
To make your move smoother, region transportation specialists recommend the following steps:
ORDERS ARE THE KEY
Orders are an absolute prerequisite; you must have orders in hand before scheduling pickup dates. If not, appointments will not be scheduled.
EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM
Don't wait until the last minute, contact your local transportation office about 45 days before you would like to move. If you get your orders with less than 45-days, visit the transportation office as soon as you receive them.
CONFIRM BEFORE YOU BOOK TRAVEL PLANS
Get a confirmed household goods pickup date before you make other plans. Commercial Travel Offices have been instructed to not issue flight reservations until the customer shows proof that they have received a confirmed pack out and pickup date from their local transportation office. Don't schedule an airline trip to your next duty station - and hold off making your vacation plans - until you know when your goods will be picked up. Remember, you may not get the pickup date that you were expecting, which might force you to change your travel plans.
Build some flexibility into your plan for household goods pickup dates. In addition to requesting a specific date, make plans for some alternate dates and be prepared to accept them. In a normal PCS season, you can almost always get the pickup date you wanted. That may not be possible this summer. The accelerated pace and workload resulting from the peak season requires weekend pack out and pickups on Saturdays. However, German law prohibits carriers from operating on Sundays.
BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR
Look out for your fellow Army families. Even if you want to report early to your next duty station, you may be asked to defer your pickup until a later date to make room for a family that must leave earlier. Consider this request carefully unless you have a compelling reason to report to your next duty station early.
For additional information, contact your installation transportation office.