Medical maintenance division reduces turnaround time with color-coded sorting system

By C.J. LovelaceJanuary 20, 2022

Color-coded labeling system
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A color-coded labeling system, called "CHIKA," is helping workers at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency’s Medical Maintenance Operations Division at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, improve efficiency in storing and identifying items to be issued back to the force. (Photo Credit: Katie Ellis-Warfield) VIEW ORIGINAL
Working on a portable oxygen generator
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Harold Gonzalez, a biomedical equipment technician at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency's Medical Maintenance Operations Division at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, works on a portable oxygen generator. (Photo Credit: Katie Ellis-Warfield) VIEW ORIGINAL

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- With large quantities of equipment and maintenance orders to fill, the team at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency’s Medical Maintenance Operations Division at Hill Air Force Base, or MMOD-Hill, needed a more efficient way to identify and store equipment.

That is why the team uses an organizing system called “CHIKA” that uses letters to identify location and colors to identify stock type. This allows team members to quickly find items throughout the warehouse.

“The volume of equipment that we consistently process does not allow us to store the equipment by customer because we would not have enough room in the warehouse for all of the pallets of equipment,” said Jose Vasquez, director of MMOD-Hill. “It would have to be spread out.”

The letters in the acronym CHIKA correspond to different storage locations in the MMOD-Hill warehouse.

Equipment is organized by the month it came out of the maintenance shop, allowing logisticians to consolidate items onto pallets that preserve space and make it more convenient to find equipment as it needs to be issued.

Workers then use bright fluorescent colors to identify types of stock, including equipment from the Army Prepositioned Stocks program, new or like-new stocks, foreign military sales, decommissioned equipment available for parts or devices with an unknown condition code, such as those that come back from the customer and need further evaluation.

“This has greatly increased efficiency when issuing equipment, and it allows us to quickly pull the exact requirements for customers,” Vasquez said.

The added organization enables the depot team to better manage inventory that belongs to Hill, as opposed to equipment belonging to customers. It also reduces the possibility of errant scans of serial numbers when processing equipment, Vasquez said.

The CHIKA system, he added, removes procedural steps that could slow the overall process, increasing the center’s productivity, overall throughput of devices and speed of delivery back to the force.

John Jeske, inventory manager for MMOD-Hill, shared positive reviews of the sorting system, saying the use of visual markers has been very helpful, especially when space is limited.

MMOD-Hill has been able to reduce scanning errors when processing orders, saving time as they process orders and pull equipment for issue back to customers, Jeske said.

The system also supports maintenance activity by allowing technicians to quickly identify the type of equipment needed to meet each customer’s needs.

“This system has allowed us to run efficiently, making the most of our warehouse space, as well as the completed materiel waiting for their required delivery date,” Jeske said. “Materiel now makes it to the warfighter faster.”