News | Dec. 14, 2020

Harnessing technology among 2020 Business Support highlights

By Tim Hoyle DLA Disposition Services

Supporting the diverse business needs of the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services sites is a challenge in a normal year, but dealing with a pandemic while also implementing new tools made 2020 anything but normal.

“The coronavirus everyone, one way or another, and in a couple months it will be one year since much of the Business Support staff has been in the building. However, that hasn’t stopped the mission,” said Business Support Director Mark Aicher.  “Logisticians are, by nature, a resilient group; we make it happen despite the odds.”

Aicher said such resiliency has meant making telework a way of life where “the kitchen table is your new desk, and your phone is your connection to meetings.  Wherever they worked, he said his team still made key mission impacts in challenging year.

Rolling out 30 mobile offices for 25 DLA Disposition Services sites and sending another 5 to DLA Distribution helped the Business Support’s Enterprise Services Division test and evaluate the new system.  Kristy McNally, Research & Development project lead for DLA Disposition Services, said the units fit in a typical GSA-leased or DLA-owned vehicle and wheeled into a customer’s office space when needed. It features a platform to lock the laptop in place, an adjustable arm and a label printer that creates the standard labels attached to property being turned in by warfighters and a small paper printer. 

Mobile offices are helping disposition service representatives across the United States as well as the Pacific, Europe, and Central regions. Kelly Clabbers, a DSR using the Mobile Office calls it “great technology” because it can go wherever she goes.

“Being able to take this out into the field has cut down on time, since we can verify and receive everything all at once instead of having to run back and forth from a computer in the office,” Clabbers said.

The team is now evaluating and testing a streamlined mobile capability, using tablets, scanner guns and a small printer similar to what’s used by rental car agencies. 

Taking advantage of DLA-issued smartphones in the workplace, the photo application fielded in 2020 is helping receivers expedite property accounting and provided potential reuse customers more images of available items to decide what they may want to requisition. When units turn in excess items the receiver can use the app to photograph the item, scan the barcode on the Disposal Turn-in Document to capture information and, if needed, use a talk-to-text feature to add more details. In a Wi-Fi environment, images of available items upload automatically to the DLA Disposition Services website for review by customers looking for usable items. Having increased images is expected to help increase requisitions.

Operations and Business Support teams partnered with DLA Information Operations to complete the deployment of the Hazardous Material Management System to improve efficiency, auditability, and transparency for supported customers. Randy Smith, the functional lead for DLA Disposition Services, briefed senior leaders during the development of the system that was a more modern system than relying on DLA’s Distribution Standard System.

“I can’t tell you how much easier this is because the system is so intuitive.” Smith said, noting it should meet audit readiness requirements and eliminate unnecessary paperwork. “HMMS is about improving the quality of hazardous waste information.”

With HMMS, 70% of hazardous waste turn-ins from disposal customers are automated. Tracking manifest logs is also automated.  These efforts have exceeded customer expectations.

Achieving a common operating picture for material handling equipment in 2020 allowed staffers to track equipment by type and quantity at each location, usage and replacement lifecycles.  Automated tools provided a global picture of equipment readiness and calculated equipment life cycle, hours used and other essential operating data. 

“Keeping sites equipped with reliable and safe MHE is critical,” Aicher said.

Back up cameras, proximity sensors, and lasers on new MHE helps keep employees safe and minimize incidents.  Standardization and reallocation efforts make MHE more affordable through $5 million in savings in annual lifecycle costs for stateside locations, which Aicher said will also soon come to sites in Europe, Africa and the Pacific regions. The staff also expects new operational facilities designs will soon increase the production at field sites by 50% without additional labor costs.

Compliance was assured by the Process Health Division despite travel restrictions. After restrictions started, monthly self-assessments were used to help field sites ensure all required processes were observed.  New standard operating procedures were created to separate the Effectiveness Review and Self-Assessment process. Training for branch employees was evaluated and improved to ensure a comprehensive review and update of Job Ready Checklists and training requirements.