ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- A working group was created in 2018 and tasked to assess and research areas of Anniston Army Depot where technology can be utilized to its full potential.

The focus for the group is on areas where technology can provide a cost savings, build efficiency into a process, make work areas safer or deliver better performance to promise.

"In the end, this leads to more enhanced and improved troop readiness," said Randy Heflin, the depot's director of Information Management.

Heflin spoke to the workforce on The Morning Show April 24, outlining the ways a "digital depot" can improve the installation.

He said the task force has identified five key areas where technological enhancements can be used. They are:

• The installation's information technology footprint in general and wireless capabilities specifically. In 2016, there were approximately 1,700 computer user accounts on the installation. Today, there are 3,200 user accounts and more than 5,500 end user devices, such as toughbooks, laptops, desktops and tablets.

New wireless access points have been added throughout the installation and continue to be added as the need arises.

• iCIIT -- The Industrial Complex Integrated Information Tracker, is a locally developed program which assists the depot with prioritizing work.

• Radio Frequency Identification processes can assist with parts tracking.

"Imagine being able to shoot a barcode that instantly processes a part without being tethered," said Heflin. "The time this will save will be enormous."

• Digital torque tools will allow the depot to log, track and set the amount of torque used in certain processes. These tools can serve as a standardizing element, which will increase quality.

• Robotics and artificial intelligence have numerous areas of potential -- from parts delivery to performing processes in hazardous conditions.

The Directorate of Information Management has been using technology as its force multiplier over the last several years. Heflin said those same principles can be implemented depot-wide.

"The key word in all this is communication, whether we are communicating by digits, voice or whatever," said Heflin. "Any organization which communicates effectively via data transfers, work instructions, wireless RFID tracking of parts or voice communications is going to be successful."

Artisans on the shop floor are the key to ensuring the new technology is implemented smoothly and properly.

"I hear the age-old arguments that robots will take our jobs. That's not true," said Heflin. "Technology will be utilized as a force multiplier. It will pick up the slack for us because we've got so much we have to get done."

Heflin encourages employees to share processes which can be improved with the Digital Depot Working Group via email at usarmy.anad.tacom.list.digital-depot-working-group@mail.mil.