Small SDDC branch provides big cost-savings for DOD
August 27, 2012
Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's Special Requirements Branch is a one-stop shop for finding the right rate and transportation mode for Department of Defense shippers who need to move specialized and large volume cargo domestically.
The branch -- part of SDDC's Strategic Business Directorate -- wants DOD shippers with special shipping requirements to know that not all rates are equal and they're here to help find cost-efficient transportation solutions.
The branch specializes in arranging transportation for oversized, overweight and volume cargo movements.
Dora Elias, SRB chief, along with her team of 11 transportation experts partner with commercial industry's truck, rail, barge and pipeline carriers daily on behalf of shippers to secure special rates for agencies such as Defense Contract Management Agency, Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, Defense Logistics Agency, and almost every organization in between, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the White House Communications Agency.
"As an example," Elias said, "Defense Contract Management Agency would come to us with a volume move of a few dozen Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. We, in turn, have the avenues and would find the best domestic rates to accommodate their move, which in the long run helps them save money."
"We make the process really simple for shippers," said Richard Cody, lead traffic management specialist. "A shipper calls us and gives us their requirements -- delivery date, weight, dimensions, volume, etc. We'll draw up the request letters and send them to various carriers detailing a shipper's requirements to obtain their rates. Once we get responses back, we'll offer our recommendations back to the shippers and go from there."
Elias says the branch is exploring more commercial rail options to offer shippers.
"So far, within the last five months, our branch has helped DOD shippers save $4.6 million by using rail for a majority of domestic movements," Elias said. "We deal with a lot of the volume move requests and across the board savings really add up quick. If more organizations come to us for help with their transportation needs, I'm confident we would realize even more cost-savings.
"We can help local transportation offices to help themselves in meeting customer requirements. Likewise, we're challenging some of our industry partners for more competitive rates."
Commercial freight cars are always an option to move cargo, but the industry does have weight and size limitations. When DOD shipping requirements exceed commercial freight car limits; SDDC has an in-house solution.
The command's Defense Freight Railway Interchange Fleet comprises of more than 2,000 DODX-marked flat and special purpose railcars of varying length and weight capacities to accommodate most any cargo the department needs to move.
The fleet is made up of chemical tank, refrigerated and box cars along with heavy duty flat cars boasting a weight capacity of up to 300 tons.
"Owning this rail fleet provides DOD with immediate accessibility for moving volume and overweight cargo," said George Gounley, chief of SDDC's Rail Fleet Management Branch.
In July, the SRB was involved in arranging transportation for a large volume of oversized vehicles, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M1 Abrams, shipped from Fort Hood, Texas, to multiple locations around the country. For this mission, SDDC used both commercial and DODX rail cars to move all the vehicles.
Renee Roper, transportation assistant for the Fort Hood Transportation Office, worked through the SRB to arrange this movement.
"It makes more sense anytime we can get two huge vehicles onto one railcar versus one vehicle per truck," Roper said. "Arranging the transportation for all these vehicles is very easy for us. We simply fill out the paperwork with the details, send it to SDDC, then they pretty much arrange the rest and make it work -- it's really painless for us."
Roper also mentioned with today's technology being leveraged to streamline shipper's request process, she can devote more time to other aspects of her job.
"As long as we can find out our shipper's requirements a little in advance, then we can start scheduling transportation to meet their needs," Elias said. "Also, we can set up long-term options and provide consistent rates to our customers."
For more information, contact SRB general service at 618-220-4513.
SDDC's primary focus is timely and accurate support to the Warfighter and the command leverages services from the best of U.S. transportation industry to accomplish its missions. The command provides expeditionary and sustained end-to-end deployment and distribution solutions for surface shipping of DOD equipment and supplies to Warfighters worldwide.