Science and Technology News

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Navy Engineers Cut Costs With New Inventory System



By Jacqui L. Barker, NSWC Panama City Office of Corporate Communications

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (NNS) -- A new, first-of-its-kind automated inventory information system developed by engineers at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) will provide significant cost avoidance and labor savings for the Navy, and is one step closer to final implementation.

The Mission Package Automated Inventory Information System (MPAIIS) is a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) inventory system that operates inside metal tool cabinets without requiring special modifications. The benefits of employing MPAIIS include high return on investment and workload reduction for littoral combat ship (LCS) mission package (MP) crews and shore based logistics support.

"Sailors have families, too," said NSWC PCD MPAIIS Lead Software Engineer Ryan Mabry. "This technology allows the Sailors to spend less time on the weekends or late nights on pre-deployment inventory. They are excited about using it because it works, and it makes their deployment preparations easier."

Passive RFID (pRFID) tags and unique emplacement of the hardware enables multiple tool and support equipment configurations. NSWC PCD's project MPAIIS team designed the inventory system in 2009 to reduce the amount of time U.S. Navy Sailors spend conducting inventories. The software has recently received its Interim Authority to Test (IATT) information assurance accreditation and is on schedule to receive its Authority to Operate (ATO) accreditation in October 2014.

"This is a milestone achievement," said Robert Gibson, former Project Engineer and now MPAIIS team consultant at NSWC PCD. "It's very gratifying to see our vision turned into a product that supports these Sailors."

To date, MPAIIS has continued to exceed all performance standards, including those defined in its Technology Transition Agreement (TTA). The project will cut down the time that sailors spend inventorying mission packages at the MPSF and also on board the LCS ships when they are swapping out mission packages.

"For PMS 420, we installed MPAIIS in an LCS Support Container, tagged more than 290 items and overall reduced inventory time from more than 32 man-hours to less than five minutes," said Mabry.

According to Mabry, MPAIIS averages seven-and-a-half minutes per container to conduct each inventory. The system as initially implemented is comprised of pRFID tags, handheld readers, a laptop, and software. MPAIIS supports a wireless configuration but that
configuration is yet to be authorized onboard Navy ships.

The tasking includes pRFID tagging of Mission Package Support Containers to support planned maintenance, corrective maintenance, embarkation and debarkation.

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