News | Jan. 13, 2016

DLA Document Services delivers critical print-on-demand products

By Gina Napoli, DLA Document Services

Printing manuals for flight safety and navigation, atlases for troops fighting Ebola in Africa, booklets for the Pan American Games and maps for a presidential visit overseas are all examples of Defense Logistics Agency Document Services’ print-on-demand capability, which provides critical, efficient support to warfighters while saving the agency money and time.

“Print-on-demand projects have provided the proof of concept that Document Services can deliver high-volume, quick turnaround, multi-facility deliverables,” said Document Services Director Steve Sherman.

Sherman pointed to recent successes, such as producing DoD Flight Information Publication (FLIP) safety and navigation cockpit reference books; printing atlases for roving Ebola treatment units; eliminating warehouse stock and reducing war reserves.

Recent print-on-demand projects have filled customers’ emergency needs. For example, if planes are missing safety and navigation data they cannot take off. Because the data change every month, having the most current copy is crucial.

“Print-on-demand is an approach that ensures the most recent [safety and navigation] flip book is printed when ordered,” said Daral Valtinson, a DLA Document Services project manager.

Having the best data available in durable atlases was invaluable to troops needing to navigate to Ebola treatment units in Fall 2014. Document Services continually printed the atlases on demand to fill troops’ needs as facilities migrated or other information changed.

Aside from having the latest and greatest maps available for print, “a vision of print-on-demand is to reduce or eliminate customers’ war reserves so that Document Services can support even in critical crisis moments,” Valtinson said.

War reserves contain documents stockpiled in warehouses, printed and stored over many years. Using the on-demand printing approach will free thousands of cubic feet of storage for DLA customers.

Document Services worked with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to design specifications for booklets that supported July’s Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada. Personnel from the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security carried these pocket-sized books during the games to access information about sports venue sites, highlighted satellite maps, city landmarks, public transportation, climate data and sunrise and sunset data, said Mark Rockwell, Document Services Norfolk office group director.

According to Rockwell, facilities in Norfolk printed NGA’s unclassified atlas books in support of President Barack Obama’s visit to the East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in November.

DLA Document Services keeps its on-demand capabilities sharp by participating in exercises and tests throughout the year. In partnership with NGA and DLA Aviation, DLA Document Services conducted the Cold Start 15 III exercise in September to stress-test print-on-demand maps for U.S. Pacific Command. The exercise required 22 different maps be produced and shipped to Korea within 48 hours.

“Operation Cold Start marked a successful stress test for printing on demand—one of three tests per year,” Valtinson said.

In addition to periodic tests, there is a defined quality assurance program for printing on demand. Ensuring quality across an entire program is important for product integrity, Valtinson said.

“Everyone has a vested interest in putting out quality maps. We have customers going to battle with these maps,” Valtinson said.

Future print-on-demand projects are in negotiation and will include partnerships with NGA and DLA Aviation, according to Valtinson. Document Services is setting up another print-on-demand site to handle future projects.

“Document Services’ niche market is low-volume, quick turnaround products. With print-on-demand, we’ve reached a stretch goal, and we’re going to keep stretching for our customers,” Sherman said.