News | Oct. 22, 2021

DLA’s first fully automatic shipping system at DLA Distribution Susquehanna

By Dawn Bonsell, DLA Distribution Public Affairs Officer

The Defense Logistics Agency’s first fully automatic dimensioning and weighing shipping conveyor system improves accuracy while saving time and costs at DLA Distribution Susquehanna, Pennsylvania’s Eastern Distribution Center.

“Projects like this and the larger overall EDC modernization will ensure DLA remains relevant and at the forefront of providing better, faster and more cost effective support to the warfighter,” said Army Col. Trent Conner, DLA Distribution Susquehanna commander.

DLA’s first fully automatic shipping system at DLA Distribution Susquehanna
Defense Logistics Agency’s first 360-degree scanners tracking of cases/totes throughout DLA’s first fully automatic dimensioning and weighing shipping conveyor system.
DLA’s first fully automatic shipping system at DLA Distribution Susquehanna
DLA’s first fully automatic shipping system at DLA Distribution Susquehanna
Defense Logistics Agency’s first 360-degree scanners tracking of cases/totes throughout DLA’s first fully automatic dimensioning and weighing shipping conveyor system.
Photo By: DLA Distribution Public Affairs
VIRIN: 210222-D-D0441-0001

Installation of the over $3 million DAWS system is the first step of the larger $200 million EDC modernization project, currently in the works. The modernization project aims to bring the EDC up to industry-leading standards to operate more efficiently and effectively by leveraging best practices, innovative solutions and technologies to improve warfighter readiness.

“Installing the DAWS system wasn’t just an engineering project,” said Joe Olsen, DLA Distribution industrial engineer. “It was a team project with DLA operations, DDSP leadership, DLA information technology communications and cyber security and the small parcel shipping team.”

The DAWS system installation provided a learning opportunity for information technology and cyber security requirements while integrating new equipment and software into the existing DLA network. Throughout the process, numerous packaging, cyber-security and firewall challenges were addressed and overcome. In addition, DDSP small parcel employees have done a tremendous job learning the new system and embracing the new technology.

The DAWS system transports outgoing small parcel material for sortation and out loading of material by multiple small parcel carriers. The package conveyor is controlled by a programmable logic controller and photo eye sensors. DLA’s first 360-degree scanner provides overall integrated routing and tracking of cases throughout the DAWS system.

DLA’s first fully automatic shipping system at DLA Distribution Susquehanna
The Defense Logistics Agency’s first fully automatic dimensioning and weighing shipping conveyor system, operating at DLA Distribution Susquehanna in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, applies military shipping and carrier labels with DLA’s first, top of the line label consolidation system.
DLA’s first fully automatic shipping system at DLA Distribution Susquehanna
DLA’s first fully automatic shipping system at DLA Distribution Susquehanna
The Defense Logistics Agency’s first fully automatic dimensioning and weighing shipping conveyor system, operating at DLA Distribution Susquehanna in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, applies military shipping and carrier labels with DLA’s first, top of the line label consolidation system.
Photo By: DLA Distribution Public Affairs
VIRIN: 210222-D-D0441-0003

The belt conveyor system includes inclines, elevation and declines. The process starts with the fully automatic tote dumper/package singulation system, then travels to the DAWS scanner/scale which automatically weighs, records dimension and scans the container control number. The weight, dimension and CCN information is then transmitted to the Distribution Standard System, which allows customers to inquire about shipments and history. DSS searches for the most cost efficient carrier. Military shipping and carrier labels are applied with DLA’s first, top of the line label consolidation system. With this new labeling system, two 4” x 6” labels are replaced by a single 6” x 8” label – eliminating the mismatched/misapplied challenges of two labels. The material then passes through confirmation scanners to ensure accuracy and is diverted to one of nine lanes for final shipment preparation.

Additional DAWS system installations are currently planned/in progress at DLA Distribution Hill, Utah and DLA Distribution Richmond, Virginia.
The DAWS system is estimated to provide a return on investment in just over four years and postures the largest distribution center in the Defense Department for small parcel shipment surge capacity during any future contingencies.