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Growth in use of RFID tags changes SDDC surface movements.

Change is coming in the way big shippers maintain visibility of their surface shipments. The giant shopping center Wal-Mart chain wants all of its 10,000 suppliers to use Radio Frequency Identification tags by 2006.

Meanwhile, the Department of Defense is seeking standard RFID tag policy to begin implementing the technology beginning Jan. 1, 2005. An essential aspect of the new policy is to assure data interoperability among surface transportations military and commercial players.

"We should blaze the trail," said Frank Galluzzo, director, G-5 (Distribution Analysis Center). "It will be 100 percent in the future.

"It needs one central authority."

To speed the movement, U.S. Transportation Command has provided SDDC with $1.8 million to start implementation. The funding will provide interrogators at 10 commercial ports to "read" the tags. The ports include: Charleston, S.C.: Philadelphia, Pa.; Oakland, Calif.; Newark, N.J.; Elizabeth, N.J.; Los Angeles (San Pedro), Calif.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Houston, Texas; Tacoma, Wash.; and Seattle, Wash.

In addition, the funding includes $100,000 for SDDC to incorporate 10,000 Radio Frequency tags in its operations.

A benchmark in SDDC's use of RFID tags occurred when the 599th Transportation Group moved 25th Infantry Division units to both Operation Iraqi Freedom in December and Operation Enduring Freedom in February.

The moves were completed with 100 percent in-transit visibility by leveraging multiple systems into deployment operations, said Col. Tom Harvey, commander, 599th Transportation Group, Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii.

"It is all part of our command-wide goal to improve end-to end surface deployment and distribution support," said Harvey. "This was the first attempt to provide total in-transit and total asset visibility for all deployment equipment from the unit locations on the installation to the in-theater tactical assembly area.

"We were determined to reach out with a much more robust concept of dedicated team support to the division units. This required intensive cross training of the Group staff personnel and active-reserve component integration at the team level with SDDC's Reserve Component Unit Mobility Team and Deployment Support Brigade units."

Automated systems, including Integrated Computerized Deployment System, Worldwide Port System, Intelligent Road/Rail Information Server, and Radio Frequency Identification, were leveraged and integrated in new and innovative ways, he said.

The in-transit visibility provided by the 599th exceeded the current benchmark, said Tony Jacang, chief of the division's Deployment Training Center.

"This is the first time we're using Radio Frequency Identification tags for an actual deployment and the first time we're actually tagging every piece of equipment moving out," said Jacang. "Normally on an exercise, we would tag about one-third to one-half of our equipment."

To accomplish the task, 4,000 RFID tags were placed on deploying equipment. The effort required "extremely hard work," said Jacang.

The 599th provided oversight and hands-on support for the effort.

"Our teams were at the unit level and in the motor pool to assist with all facets of the radio frequency identification process," said Lt. Col. James Hall, 599th director of operations.

"From the initial 'burning' of tags for all containers and rolling stock to helping unit movement officers electronically write the dimensions, owner, destination and other required data of all vehicles and line item contents of containers onto tags, we provided expertise every step of the way," said the U.S. Air Force officer.

A tag, which is an approximately 2-inch-by-10-inch gray electronic box storehouse of data, was mounted onto each vehicle and container before it departed Wheeler Army Airfield. As the cargo passed checkpoints, it was "read" by fixed interrogators that provided the date, time, and location of the cargo.

"We were able to depict individual unit cargo as it progressed through the deployment process and also provide a percentage of combat capability available to the commander as the cargo closed throughout the tactical assembly area," said Hall.

The 599th effort received a boost from Yulin Tsang, a 599th information management specialist, who developed the automated process that provided accessibility of the force closure common operating picture through the Intelligent Road/Rail Information Server, developed by SDDC's Transportation Engineering Agency.

Tsang worked diligently for over 10 hours to manipulate data from the in-transit visibility server and developed multiple queries to extract information and generate a timely first report once the interrogators began recording data.

Commands now using the common operating picture for enhanced in-transit visibility include: U.S. Pacific Command, 19th Theater Support Command in Korea, the 25th Infantry Division's forward command and control element ill the Combined Joint Task Force 180 Joint Operations Center, and 1 Corps serving as the executive agent for Exercise Cobra Gold.

Tested in the loading was a concept to determine if data captured by RFID tags could be imported into the WPS business server.

"The test was a success," said William Evans, information management team leader. "All data captured by the tags was transferred to the Worldwide Port System.

"However, data from the tags did not include corrections identified and manually inputted by the hand scanners. Emerging technology with hand held "Palm" type devices that combine Integrated Computerized Deployment System, Worldwide Port System and Radio Frequency Identification functionality will allow us to fix the problems identified in the test and allow for a quantum leap forward in terms of process efficiency and workload for both the marine cargo specialist and cargo scanning function."

The 599th Group's commander had high praise for the test team.

"The support of the Worldwide Port System program management folks allowed us to gain proof of concept to use Radio Frequency Identification tag data as the source for Worldwide Port System in-transit visibility updates in lieu of printing and scanning military shipping labels," said Harvey.

"This is SDDC Transformation in action. In the future, we see complete systems integration and seamless data exchange between our in-transit visibility systems including Radio Frequency Identification Automatic Information Systems, Worldwide Port System, Integrated Computerized Deployment System, and Intelligent Road/Rail Information Server. The end result is complete in-transit visibility and total-asset visibility for both deployment and distribution operations in support of the warfighter."

Terri Kojima, Command Affairs Officer 599th Transportation Group
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Title Annotation:Radio Frequency Identification, Surface Deployment and Distribution Command
Author:Kojima, Terri
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2004
Previous Article:SDDC, 7th Transportation Group: Fort Eustis units team up in Philadelphia equipment discharge.
Next Article:History Channel will air SDDC port, rail operations.

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