By Thomas Peske
CRANE, Ind. – Crane Army Ammunition Activity (CAAA) completed a GPS pilot program that will help increase safety and efficiency for ammunition crews while working on the 100-square-mile, heavily-wooded Naval Support Activity Crane base.
During the 60-day pilot program held under the supervision of the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command, 20 GPS devices were placed in vehicles and tracked by Crane Army Operations Center. The devices provide 100 percent visibility of all internal movement of munitions, crews and heavy lifting equipment.
“With CAAA being in the business of receiving, shipping and storing of Class V (conventional ammunition) it is critical we have the ability of knowing the crews locations,” Crane Army Depot Operations Coordinator Steve Cummings said. “In past years we have had some weather incidents, such as snow, ice and tornados, where the command had to account for 100 percent of the personnel. With GPS we can isolate the non-responders’ location to check on their safety. GPS will help us better utilize the crews in a given area by minimizing their relocation time and distance to respond to a given task. It gives us the ability to utilize real time dispatching of crews and equipment.”
Cummings said that due to the terrain and size of Crane, CAAA needed to perform the test to see if it was able to provide an acceptable level functionality and usability. The testing helps to identify and mitigate dead spots and ensure enough infrastructure is in place to effectively generate the hypothesized benefits.
This is not the first time that Crane Army utilized GPS in tracking its crews, but a change in logistics-tracking software caused that system to be unsupportable. Cummings said, “This GPS system is similar but has newer technology incorporated. This is also a system that can be embedded into SAVI SmartChain. SAVI is developing technology to be able to link the GPS data to a task.”
The technology will allow Crane Army planners to study results for efficiencies. According to Justin Farrell, a Joint Munitions Command employee whose role is to guide and facilitate the collaborative integration of GPS at Crane Army, the system will synergize the information about vehicles and tasks going into the operations center.
Farrell said, “GPS allows managers to have total visibility of resources and infrastructure spread across the depot landscape. Leaning forward, you can capture dwell time, down time, average utilizations, and baseline work standards, while always maintaining real time accountability of infrastructure.”
The use of technology to maximize efficiencies is seen as a key part of Crane Army’s effort to remain ready and reliant.
“As the Army begins reshaping itself for the future, we must take extraordinary measures to maintain our best practices,” Crane Army Site Manager for SmartChain Victor Wampler explained. “Using technology is one way that we can help make this happen. By leveraging GPS technology, it will be easier and more efficient for Crane Army to ensure that we are utilizing our workforce and equipment in the most efficient way possible. The use of GPS would allow for the realization of cost savings in the new fiscal climate DOD now must work in.”
Once the GPS system is worked out, it can be applied to all the government-owned, government-operated ammunition depots across the JMC enterprise. Farrell said, “JMC enterprise will benefit from enhanced force protection during weather/safety events, creating a baseline for time standards for executing logistics functions, and ensuring maximum utilization of precious resources and infrastructure.”
Safety and funding are still questions that will need to be answered before implementation could happen. If the data from the testing proves successful, a system that is fully integrated with SmartChain could come online in 9-10 months.
Established Oct. 1977, Crane Army Ammunition Activity maintains ordnance professionals and infrastructure in order to receive, store, ship, produce, renovate and demilitarize conventional ammunition, missiles and related components. Crane Army maintains up to one third of the DOD’s conventional ammunition inventory. The Activity also provides command oversight of Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, Letterkenny Munitions Center, Pa., and Milan Army Ammunition Center, Tenn.