According to Hicks, “Our story is probably not unique in that, in the beginning, it was a lot of trial and error. GRA really wanted to integrate a mobile computer into our software package, but the first few we tried performed nowhere near the level of what Intermec offers. When we ran across Intermec, though, we noticed that it supplied the Department of Defense in a lot of other areas and what they were doing with mobile computers. We were confident then that we were with an A+ vendor.”
What Pencil and Paper Are Up Against
“When I began my career, I was an inventory clerk on Redstone Arsenal. I noticed the apparent difficulty in doing an inventory manually. Writing down number after number left a lot of room for human error,” Hicks notes. “With the automation of the database and mobile computing systems, you not only speed up the process, but eliminate the likelihood for errors as well.”
The Army conducts a Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss if a piece of equipment disappears or goes missing, and if the item is not reconciled or found, the hand-receipt holder who was assigned to it would have to reimburse the organization for that equipment. There is also a specific equipment disposal process: If a serial number on an item does not match the serial number in PBUSE, the Defense Reutilization Management Office does not accept that piece of equipment for disposal. In addition, the military takes inventory when it’s time for a person to retire and when a new hand-receipt holder comes in, and all of that data is based on the equipment’s identifying information being correct in PBUSE.
“When you’re in the field with our inventory program, you can scan the barcode of an item to bring up all of the identifying information for that piece of equipment. So, you have a barcode, serial number, model number, nomenclature and year of manufacture,” says Hicks. “You can check those items in real time, make corrections and even verify the data with PBUSE—all from the field.”
Peter Rouse, a channel sales executive of federal sales at Intermec Technologies, adds, “The other issue is that assets tend to move around a lot, so if it essentially takes you six months to do an inventory, all you really know is where that inventory was six months ago, whereas with this system, you are able to look at a device, scan it and essentially know if you’re moving from one location to another. You’re able to scan all those items, load that information and have immediate access to the changed location.”
ASTS, in conjunction with the Intermec mobile computers, ensures that information is accurate, so personnel aren’t subjected to reprimand, having to pay for equipment, so missions can be completed more rapidly.
Long Lost Equipment, and Mission-Critical Property and Personnel
Clearly, the GRA and Intermec solution saves both time and money. In fact, customers have discovered the benefits of deploying such a robust inventory tracking system within their organizations. “When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf of Mexico, a DoD tasker was sent to subordinate commands, requesting ‘life-saving’ equipment (portable generators, water purifying equipment, waste pumps, etc.). Our government customers were able to identify all of their emergency equipment within minutes, as opposed to days, as they would have had to query the command by email,” says Hicks.
GRA is not just in the habit of tracking equipment, either. Within the past two years, GRA has developed two other programs, used to serve their own purpose within the DoD. Its Readiness and ManPower Planning (RaMPP) program is used to track an organization’s employees. RaMPP has the ability to log and provide training certifications; medical information; boot, vest and pant sizes; as well as personal contact information. This program also aids in natural disaster situations, with its ability to track employees in, out and between each location, affording an organization the chance to track down and account for its valued personnel after an event occurs, such as the tornado outbreak in northern Alabama in 2011. RaMPP is currently being used in theater by the Navy, but GRA hopes to bring it stateside within the next year to allow other military branches and organizations to experience its benefits.