by Staff Sgt. Patrick Harrower
60th Air Mobility Public Affairs
12/3/2012 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- They
can be seen everywhere a service member travels. They can have a
month's worth of water stored on them in Afghanistan or form the walls
of a shack in Haiti. They have been used to transport thousands of
vehicles in the Department of Defense or just reutilized as makeshift
flooring for a tent on a forward-operating base. They are the 463L cargo
pallet and up until recently, there was no way to track them.
There are only 124,000 of these pallets in the Department of Defense,
costing approximately $1,200 each. The pallets are not being produced
anymore, so it has become critical to take care of the ones in the
inventory and track them as they move around the world.
The Airmen from 60th Aerial Port Squadron cargo net and pallet section
spent the last week attaching radio frequency identification trackers to
3,000 pallets. Travis is the second test base for the RFIDs and will
track them throughout Air Mobility Command and Pacific Air Forces.
"We will test the trackers for nine months and, if everything goes good,
we will install them on pallets across the entire DoD," said Tech. Sgt.
Creighton King, AMC. "The goal is to find wherever a pallet was last
seen so we can recover it. The RFIDs will allow us to maintain tracking
and inventory control of our pallet supply."
The trackers don't even have to be individually scanned, said Airman 1st
Class Daniel Hall, 60th APS cargo net and pallet section technician.
Due to the radio frequency they transmit, their tracking number can be
located up to 300 yards away with their computer systems.
"There is even an automatic scanner that picks them up when they arrive
on base via truck," Hall said. "Then we know exactly where every pallet
is as we send them out to places like Guam, Hickam and PACAF."
Because the pallets travel so much and are frequently moved between
aircraft and hangars via forklifts, they had to be installed to be
tough, Hall said.
The Airmen removed a small portion of paint on each pallet before
applying a primer. They then applied an epoxy to the tracker and used
tape in between. The trackers can withstand 3,000 pounds of force with
"We want to be able to track a pallet no matter where it goes," King
said. "A pallet can go to the (Area of Responsibility), a FOB or to
(Federal Emergency Management Agency) and we will know exactly where it