Original Date: 07/10/2006
Revision Date: / /
Best Practice : Automatic Identification Technology
Tobyhanna Army Depot successfully implemented automatic identification technology and radio frequency identification technology to locate disassembled parts at various stages of the refurbishing process. Automatic Identification technology provides 100% real-time visibility of assets, easily locates parts when required, and enables the depot to effectively monitor the progress of tagged systems in process, resulting in more than $450,000 in projected annual savings.
Tobyhanna Army Depot’s (TYAD’s) core business is the refurbishing and repair of electronic systems. As these systems arrive at the depot, the maintenance work center disassembles and sends the system parts out to various manufacturing work centers (supports shops) for repair and refinishing. Prior to implementing automatic identification technology (AIT) and radio frequency identification (RFID), work center personnel tagged system parts manually using an intershop work order routing tag. Work centers relied on human intervention to track the status of system parts primarily by walking though work centers.
An assessment of this tracking process was conducted in April of 2003 and revealed that personnel in work centers expended approximately 1-1½ hours daily searching for system parts. The assessment also revealed that critical parts were sometimes transported by forklift to incorrect work centers where they would “dwell” until they were later recovered following an extensive search effort. The non-valued-added activity of physically tracking parts decreased productivity and increased repair time and labor costs. On-time deliveries were subject to delay and customer satisfaction was at risk.
In December of 2004, TYAD implemented a pilot program using AIT and RFID technology for two major systems undergoing repair. System highlights included coverage in 23 work centers and storage areas located in multiple buildings and outdoor areas. A dedicated server with Visibility software was integrated with the depot’s existing PC network via an Ethernet LAN. Location sensors, lift carts, and shadow boards were strategically located and RFID tags were placed on approximately 300 component parts.
As the two systems were disassembled and parts moved for repair and refinishing to and through various support shops, TYAD was able to have 100% real-time visibility of assets. The new system easily located parts when required, enabling TYAD to effectively monitor the progress of the tagged systems in process. TYAD gained access to historical tracking information, including time sequence of repair cycle and pickup and delivery times between processes.
An independent study of the system was conducted by the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and a findings report was generated in June 2005. The study concluded that TYAD would save more than $450,000 annually and realize a full return on investment of the AIT/RFID system within the first year. The new technology also dramatically expedited TYAD’s refurbishing process, enabling the systems piloted to return to the field 35 days and 10 days, respectively, sooner than with the old process. With the success of the pilot, TYAD has expanded the program to a third critical system in January 2006 and a fourth system in June 2006.
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