Army depot deploys RFID tags to help repair radar systems

Jan. 11, 2005
SANTA CLARA, Calif., 11 January 2005. WhereNet Corp., a maker of wireless solutions for tracking and managing enterprise assets, announced today that the Tobyhanna Army Depot has deployed the standards-based WhereNet real-time locating system (RTLS).

SANTA CLARA, Calif., 11 January 2005. WhereNet Corp., a maker of wireless solutions for tracking and managing enterprise assets, announced today that the Tobyhanna Army Depot has deployed the standards-based WhereNet real-time locating system (RTLS).

The technology will streamline the full-service repair and overhaul of surveillance radar systems at the Pennsylvania facility, marking the first time that a U.S. Army facility has tested RTLS technology.

Tobyhanna Army Depot plays a critical role in repairing and overhauling command, control, computer, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems for the Armed Forces. In accordance with the Department of Defense mandate to develop and use automatic identification technology (AIT), Tobyhanna is evaluating the WhereNet active radio frequency identification (RFID) system to improve efficiencies, cut costs, and increase quality at the depot.

"We are constantly researching and testing advanced technologies to ensure the readiness of our Armed Forces," said Ronald Rains, AIT coordinator, Research and Analysis Division, Tobyhanna Army Depot. "Wireless location-based technology is particularly intriguing given its success associated with productivity gains in commercial environments. We look forward to evaluating automatic identification technology in particular and providing a cost-benefit analysis to determine future use of the technology in support of our Armed Forces."

About every five years, radar antenna systems need to be refurbished. The systems are shipped to the Tobyhanna depot, where each system is disassembled, repaired, and tested before being shipped out to the field again -- a labor-intensive process that can take 12-15 months. With assemblies, sub-assemblies, components, and spare parts spread across the more than 2-million-square-foot refurbishment areas, the RTLS technology will provide each work center with visibility of the antenna system's work in process.

Using the WhereNet system's streamlined process, Tobyhanna personnel now assign an active RFID WhereTag transmitter to items ranging from components to complete systems. The wireless architecture consists of WhereLAN locating sensors and WherePort devices, which trigger each WhereTag to emit a signal when entering or leaving a specific work center.

Because the WhereNet system automatically records information such as arrival, dwell, and departure time without any human intervention, the depot personnel can quickly find the precise whereabouts and status of each tagged item at any stage during the refurbishing process, and easily analyze work-in-process flow and prevent bottlenecks.

The WhereNet RTLS system that is being evaluated in the refurbishment process at the Tobyhanna Army Depot can provide numerous benefits, including:

* Enhanced quality control and efficiency as the system monitors the movement of work-in-process assemblies and provides automated confirmation that every radar/antenna system goes through every step in the refurbishment process
* Reduced labor cost through the elimination of manual searches for assemblies, subassemblies, components, and complete antenna systems
* Lower inventory costs through elimination of double ordering of parts that could not be located
* Reduced on-site dwell time, resulting in better throughput and customer service (If a tracked item sits in a work center longer than the allotted time, the system automatically triggers an email alert.)

"The Tobyhanna evaluation deployment is just one of several DOD and homeland security initiatives that we are currently engaged in with the federal government," said Matt Armanino, senior vice president of corporate development for WhereNet. "The daily logistics challenges facing Tobyhanna are not unlike those encountered by our dozens of private enterprise customers. As we have proven with those customers, WhereNet is ideal for providing location-based solutions that automate and optimize time-critical, labor-intensive processes in high-volume, high-velocity industrial environments."

WhereNet is the first company to deliver a single wireless location and communication infrastructure that reliably and cost-effectively manages valuable mobile resources and delivers a complete return on investment within 12 months. Based on patented, standards-compliant technology resulting from a collective 100+ years of development, the WhereNet real-time solutions enable companies such as BMW, Ford Motor Company, and NYK Logistics to reduce inventory, lower operating costs, and improve operations. For more information, see

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