NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. –
Work is underway to redesign the physical network of Defense Logistics Agency Distribution’s worldwide distribution centers to reduce costs and improve performance, the leadership team at DLA Distribution Headquarters told Leigh Method, the Defense Department’s deputy assistant Defense Secretary for logistics, during a May 5 visit to the agency’s headquarters in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania.
Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Keith Reventlow, DLA Distribution commanding general, explained DLA Distribution’s strategy for becoming more efficient for the future — ensuring material is where it needs to be when the Defense Department moves from crisis to conflict.
Modernizing infrastructure and equipment is key to the agency’s future. The current platform uses programming language from the 1950’s and will be replaced with a new warehouse management system. The new system is slated to go live this summer at DLA Distribution Corpus Christi, Texas and uses a goods to person strategy, that delivers material to workstations, rather than employees traveling to multiple locations. The WMS also assists supervisors with managing and assigning workload and verifying that picks have been completed properly.
Distribution workers at nine distribution centers are currently using voice technology to pick material for customers. With the new system, workers wear headsets that read items to be picked and use mobile tablets and printers to complete the pick process. The technology also eliminates the possibility of misreading the quantity from a paper pick ticket. The initial studies show a 30% increase in item pick accuracy with the new technology, on track for implementation at another six distribution centers by the end of the fiscal year.
In addition to modernization, a discussion on DLA’s scheduled truck shipments evolved as Method described a project on her priority list, level setting installation access for truck drivers. The project involves integrating physical security to set a standard system for all delivery trucks to access Defense Department installations to improve velocity.
The DLA Distribution team also described the conservation efforts currently underway across the worldwide Distribution network to include steam to natural gas conversion, electric vehicle charging stations, solar rooftops, planned battery energy storage and energy efficient warehouse lighting. As the team described energy conservation initiatives across the agency, Method indicated that energy conservation is another key DOD project, referencing the Defense Department’s 2021 Climate Adaptation Plan.
With Method’s previous experience as the senior advisor for sustainment and deputy director of the F-35 Integration Office at Air Force Headquarters, she was interested to learn that F-35 material is now being stored at seven DLA Distribution locations and eager to help drive the transfer of additional material to DLA Distribution warehouses.
Since Method joined DOD almost two years ago, she indicated that COVID-19, climate change and contingency operations have been focuses of daily discussions. While the pandemic prevented her from visiting DOD agencies sooner, she’s glad she had more time to help agencies develop tools for delivering better capability to the warfighter.