for each individual mission system. The Remote
Minehunting System happens to be one of the MCM
[mine countermeasures] mission package mission systems. So when we looked around for what would be a
good system to test this on, we came up with that one
because it seemed to be the most complicated in terms
of numbers of parts and things that they want to track.
There are about 3,000 parts in it.
At the moment, testing is going very well. We’re routinely hitting 95 to 96 percent of what they call readability,
ability to read the tags that are in there. We are working on
system upgrades at this point to tweak that number more
toward 100 percent. Our initial equipment costs for a container at this point is like $12,000. With our upgrade, we
think we can get that down to half or less than half.
The evolution of inventorying these parts takes a lot of
manpower. To give you an idea, our first test case was like
300 parts and it took us three and a half hours to inven-
tory that. We extrapolate that out and that’s a whole
bunch of man hours. Every time there’s a mission change-
out on the LCS, there’s a four-inventory cycle — when it
leaves the support facility it has to be inventoried, when
it gets to the ship it has to be inventoried, when it leaves
the ship it has to be inventoried and when you get back
to the support facility it has to be inventoried. …
If you take the assumptions that we made about
how many times the LCS fleet would be doing this in
a year, how many containers they would actually be
buying, the amount of money you could save just
using this [RFID] system is on the order of $14 million
a year over the whole LCS fleet. That’s cost avoidance.
That is significant savings. …
We’ve gone over these numbers a thousand times.
They all keep coming up the same. Return on investment
for a single container over a 10-year life cycle is on the
order of 3,000 percent. So we’re talking significant sav-
ings, mostly because the Sailor doesn’t have to sit there
and count the stuff. It’s all automatic. All somebody has
to do is punch a button. In fact, this inventory can be
taken anywhere there is a network connection.
Theoretically, somebody in Washington, D.C., could
be taking inventory that’s sitting on a dock in Bahrain, as
long as he’s got a network connection. It takes a lot of the
hands off. That’s what we’re all after anyway, getting the
Sailor out of the dull, dangerous and dirty work.
We have a TTA — Technology Transition Agreement — with PMS-420, the LCS mission package people. We are working with them to implement this system on the Mission Package Support Facility, or MPSF.
Right now there’s only one, in Port Hueneme, Calif.
What I foresee for this particular system is integrating
it with the MPSF, which will then entail integrating it
with the ship as well as with the Navy supply system.
We’ve been in discussions with [Navy Supply Systems
Using RFID technology to inventory tools and parts that
are stored inside metal toolboxes presented a number of
technical challenges for Naval Surface Warfare Center
Panama City Division engineers.
Command] to find out what we need to do to integrate. We had to write our own software to do this and
they’re interested in integrating our software into their
There have been some spin-offs. There’s a group here
on base that has to track thousands of parts. When they
found out about what we were doing, they asked if we
could help them. We have installed a modified system in
their warehouses, so they are now keeping track of their
systems automatically. There’s more to do in that area
and we’re going to work with them.
There’s also one area that I would like to pursue, HM-
14 [Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14] and
HM- 15, the aircraft MCM squadrons for the MCM Command. They have a very similar situation with the LCS
when they have to deploy ... they have all kinds of garbage
they have to take with them. So I would like to be working
with them to figure out how we can help them do well.
At this point we’re also talking with two of the Navy
shipyards — one in Portsmouth [N.H.] and one in
Norfolk [Va.]. There are a lot of areas where we could
apply this, and that’s just the military applications.
The one big thing, as with almost anything new,
which we haven’t figured out how to get around at this
point, is that a lot of the acquisition programs, fleet
units and whatnot have money to support what they’re
doing currently, but nobody has money to get something started. Everybody who sees [this RFID system]
wants it, but nobody has money to put up the initial
investment. Even though the cost savings, the cost
avoidance, is so great, it takes money to make money.
That’s where we’re caught at this point, trying to figure how to help them transition over. I am convinced
there are many, many, many applications, people
would love to have the system, but they don’t
have it in their budget.