Parts tracker—a unique tool for the warfighter

Parts tracker—a unique tool for the warfighter

Francis Leong

Every day, thousands of requisitions flow through the military requisitioning pipeline. Although it is important to track requisitioned items in peacetime, war makes the need for tracking these items critical. Maintenance personnel need a query tool that indicates where critical parts can be found. They also need to know the transportation mode and expected delivery date of shipments. For requisitions that are rejected at the national inventory control point (NICP), maintenance personnel need to know the reason for the rejection and whom to contact for further details and options. Item managers at the NICP need to know when items are received by customers.

The Army Materiel Command Logistics Support Activity’s (LOGSA’s) Parts Tracker meets those needs at the tactical and strategic levels by providing the status of requisitions in the supply and transportation pipeline. This visibility is achieved by capturing and displaying data, including the location and date of each segment of a shipment from the time it originates at the source of supply through the military or commercial transportation pipeline to its receipt by the customer. The segments include source of supply, depot, consolidated containerization point, port, supply support activity, and customer receipt.

Parts Tracker provides a tracking capability similar to that of commercial carriers such as the United Parcel Service and Federal Express. Visibility of military shipments presents a challenge because of the broad scope of information that must be collected from disparate commercial and military systems.

For a commercial carrier shipment, LOGSA must be able to capture and process the data generated by that carrier. A shipment traveling through military distribution channels requires many different methods to capture data needed to maintain visibility through various transportation means. These include the use of document identifier codes familiar to the military world and the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tag technology.

If a shipment is moving by military transportation and an RFID tag is attached to the container, the information on the tag can be accessed through Parts Tracker’s RFID tag query. Many layers of information can be obtained through this query–the current date, time, and location of the container; the consignor, consignee, and carrier owner; the container’s consolidation transportation control number (TCN); and all shipment-related TCNs. A query by RFID tag number will show the historical record of the container, including locations, dates, and times for each of its movements. A detailed query of the RFID tag will provide information on all items in that container by nomenclature, document number, package suffix code, national stock number, quantity, hub receipt date, and ship date.

Parts Tracker provides query by document number, which is unique to the military requisitioning environment. The upgraded “Parts Tracker Plus” will offer enhanced capabilities that will accommodate more powerful queries by warfighters, item managers, and data analysts. The first of these enhancements will provide a multiple document number query that will allow the customer to query up to 5 document numbers simultaneously. The output will show all of the document numbers queried, national stock numbers, nomenclature, quantities, and requisition status. Enhancements to the document number query function also will include the ability to obtain information on rejected or cancelled requisitions. This information will include the reason for rejection or cancellation and the NICP point of contact, which will enable the customer to communicate with the item manager for advice on how to get the requisition filled.

Current development includes initiatives to permit queries by Department of Defense activity address code (DODAAC), RFID tag, TCN, and commercial tracking number. The ability to query by DODAAC is crucial at the tactical level for capturing all requisitions associated with a specific unit or supply support activity. This query will show requisitions by weekly segments, with output similar to that offered by the multiple document number query. Queries by RFID tag and the commercial tracking number will provide a portal for direct access to information currently obtained only by drilling down through links in the document number query. Query by TCN will provide in-the-box visibility by document number level for all shipments for that TCN. Because of the large number of packages in combined shipments, maintaining visibility down to individual items is crucial. This visibility provides more efficient and accurate logistics information, which is vital to military success.

Parts Tracker will integrate seamlessly with other LOGSA data bases to provide on-the-pallet and in-the-container visibility using clear language that does not use codes and acronyms. This format will provide information that can be read and understood across a multitude of boundaries. Parts Tracker offers a powerful tool for analysis of readiness, maintenance, and supply business processes at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels.



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