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News | Dec. 10, 2018

Tablet usage – a modernization beginning for DLA Distribution Tobyhanna

By Diana Dawa DLA Distribution Public Affairs

Employees at DLA Distribution Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania have been using tablets in the warehouse since 2016. 


Tablet usage, mobile printers, and enabling Wi-Fi hotspots in the warehouses are all part of the modernization effort that’s underway at DDTP. In addition to DDTP, tablet usage is happening throughout the DLA enterprise as well. 


 Like anything new, tablet usage wasn’t something that was easy to get used to, but now that they’ve been in use for a while, tablet users at Tobyhanna  have embraced the devices.


What makes it ideal is that personnel armed with a tablet can work more efficiently throughout the warehouse, without having to go back and forth to a workstation to input information into a traditional desk or laptop, which, depending on how far one is away from a work station, can be time consuming.  


Tablet technology has had some operational challenges. For example, there are dead spots in the distributions centers that prevent access to Wi-Fi that is needed in order for the tablet to operate.  Tobyhanna’s working on a plan to remediate dead spots and increase Wi-Fi connections throughout their warehouses.


According to Robert L. Dodson, deputy commander, DLA Distribution Tobyhanna, there are currently 45 tablets issued throughout the Tobyhanna warehouse workforce with, more to be requested for implementation in the near future. 


“DLA Tobyhanna has capitalized on their (tablets) value in the pick and inventory processes, allowing employees to simultaneously search WebFLIS (a system that provides essential information about supply items through a web interface connected to the Federal Logistics Information Service.), work in DSS (Distribution Standard System), take photos, and remain connected via email.  This is a huge improvement over the existing RF (Radio Frequency) guns,” said Dodson, adding, “DLA Tobyhanna is working closely with J4 on further implementation and would recommend that efforts be made to develop Tobyhanna as a model for the Distribution enterprise.”


Dodson thinks another beneficial use for the tablets is in outside storage areas.


“For example – re-warehousing. Say I need to move something from one warehouse to another. The process now is, I’ve got to go back to the computer and do the re-warehousing action, get the label, and then go back and put it on the item in the new location. Whereas if I could just do all that from the cab of a forklift with a tablet and a mobile printer – I win,” said Dodson.   


Christopher Dubas, outside storage rigging worker, DDTP, has used the tablet for nearly a year, and is now on his second iteration.


“I like it. It allows me to access everything I need right there on the spot. Instead of the handheld RF guns, in which I would have to go back and research other materials, and then get back to a desk top.  It brings everything I need right with me.”


Dubas has worked for DLA for eight years, seven of those using an RF gun. He was quickly impressed with how easy it was from tablet set-up to usage.   


“It took less than an hour to set up the tablet.  It’s on-demand, instantaneous results, without the time lapse – more efficient.  Out of a day, I would say that I’ve saved over an hour of production each day, instead of walking back and forth,” said Dubas.  Dubas added that, when using the previous RF handheld guns, I would have to log in to use it, and then log out. I would then have to go to my work station and log in using my CAC in order to research items. The tablet is CAC enabled and the log in process is much faster. Also, the tablet is much faster to type on as the RF gun had much smaller keys, similar to a phone keyboard.”


Using the tablet, Dubas can go to a warehouse and work all functions right there on the spot.


“I could work the inventory issues, and research any kind of problem that may arise.  It allows me to quickly access DSS and WebFLIS, re-verify items, and I have email communications back and forth with supply techs, supervisors, and customers in dealing with their specific serial number requests.  I have everything right there and I’m saving a lot of paper, I’m not printing out a tablet of information. It’s a one stop shop, it’s just good to go.”