DLA to modernize warehouse operations 

By Michael Molinaro, DLA Logistics Operations Communications

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The Defense Logistics Agency is keeping up with innovation and technology changes in warehouse operations by leveraging commercial, off-the-shelf software by SAP.

The Warehouse Management System, consisting of the Extended Warehousing Module and Transportation Module, will help modernize the Distribution Standard System that DLA Distribution and DLA Disposition Services use to conduct warehousing, depot and transportation functions. Potential benefits include use of the Automated Storage/Automated Retrieval System, Warehouse Robotic Arm Picking, Autonomous Guided Vehicle and Augmented Reality. 

“Our warehouses are the strategic hub of DLA’s ever-extending supply chain in support of the warfighter,” said Karyn Runstrom, deputy chief information officer. “Exciting as it is to be entering a new decade, the landscape has been transformed with the arrival of many different security challenges and opportunities in robotics, automation and artificial intelligence, which can propel DOD upward.” 

WMS development has already started with a pilot program at DLA Distribution Corpus Christi, Texas. Full implementation there is scheduled for the second quarter of fiscal 2021. All other DLA Distribution and DLA Disposition Services warehouses are scheduled to be fully operational the second quarter of fiscal 2023. 

SAP is a key component of DLA’s Enterprise Resource Planning and data management programs. It is also auditable. 

“The emphasis is on using SAP standard processes with a minimal amount of software alteration to accommodate DLA-unique requirements. Minimizing customization will result in lower deployment costs, greater auditability and reduced project risk overall,” Runstrom said, adding that customizations will be approved by the WMS Executive Committee.

WMS is being developed in the cloud to reduce infrastructure costs using Agile methodology. The benefits of Agile include faster time to market, reduced cost, reduced project risk, high quality products and solutions, immediate value, increased customer satisfaction, and an ability to adjust to requirement changes. 

DLA is partnering with Agile teams to co-locate information technology professionals, functional subject matter experts and software developers for daily collaboration. The agency is also working with the U.S. Transportation Command’s Transportation Management System prototype to share lessons learned and resolve common roadblocks.