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News | Feb. 13, 2023

Out with the old, in with the new – WMS transition is underway

By Jason Shamberger DLA Disposition Services

man and woman use a tablet
Out with the old, in with the new – WMS transition is underway
Kelli Crawford a reutilization, transfer and donation specialist from Red River Army Depot, and Alec Richardson a material identifier and examiner of Disposition Services San Antonio make use of Warehouse Management System technology to perform daily tasks.
Photo By: Jason Shamberger
VIRIN: 230130-D-AU600-217
The Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services San Antonio Go Live event is complete, and the Warehouse Management System is officially in use within Disposition Services.

DLA has made use of the Distribution Standard System for over 15 years to manage warehouse operations across the agency. Over the next couple of years, Disposition Services and Distribution will phase out DSS and implement a modernized upgrade in the form of WMS.

“WMS is a new modernized warehouse management system,” said Liberty Moore, the Disposition Services WMS line of effort owner for training, communication and change management. “What we’re doing is moving all of our property and accountability to the same platform as our financial platform and that way the systems can talk to each other easier, and this makes us more auditable.”

Transitioning the entire agency to a new platform requires teamwork from multiple elements of DLA in order to roll WMS out successfully.

“From an IT perspective we have our software folks from J6 [information operations], and we also have J6 hardware folks that are helping us with the new technology of the tablets and the scanners and the new printers. We have J1 – which are our training folks – that have been embedded with us since we began this project. This is great because they’ve learned the system right along with us and they are the expert teachers.”

Not only did these different sections of the agency work jointly throughout the development of WMS but are also on hand as each site transitions to the platform. Carol Hemker – an IT specialist with J1 –explains the importance of being physically present during the roll out.

“It’s just about getting the warehouse workers up to speed and getting them going,” said Hemker. “The WMS system goes through several areas and systems. That’s what we have to look at and ask, are all of the interfaces working together correctly? With us being on-site the warehouse team can grab us anytime and we can see if it’s a true issue or operator error.”

This effort to bring various elements from the agency together and assist warehouse staff with the transition is a strategy supported by Disposition Services Mid-America Region Director Kathy Atkins-Nunez.

“I have been through many iterations of warehouse operations management,” said Atkins-Nunez. “I think that this has been a better transition, in my opinion, than all the ones I’ve witnessed before. I’ve never seen it where the support staff is coming to the field – J6 and J1 – in teams that are needed. I think it’s very important that it was done in this manner. I think it is the best transition I’ve seen.”

Those making use of the new system were given classroom instruction as well as hands-on training before the system went online.

Man works at computer
Out with the old, in with the new – WMS transition is underway
Warehouse crew operating the Warehouse Management System during it's unveiling at Disposition Services San Antonio site.
Photo By: Jason Shamberger
VIRIN: 230130-D-AU600-215
At the San Antonio site, the strategy seems to have paid off as warehouse staff are successfully taking on the change.

“WMS is a new system and new life and a new way of doing business,” said Sam Nowman, the San Antonio warehouse supervisor. “Now that it’s in use in the warehouse, my team has really picked the system up well. Seeing how they are running with it, they’re going a lot faster than I expected and I’m very happy about that.”

WMS continues deployment at Disposition Services and Distribution sites across the world in a calculated roll out. The current projection puts the system fully integrated into the agency and the final site implementation in September  2025.