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Navy, Marines Track Assets on Oahu

Military warehouses at Pearl Harbor and Kaneohe Bay are using EPC Gen 2 RFID to track inbound and outbound supplies and equipment.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 17, 2008The Navy Automatic Identification Technology (AIT) program, implemented by the U.S. Navy, has deployed an RFID system to track supplies and equipment as they pass through naval base warehouses in Pearl Harbor, as well as the warehouse operated by Marine Air Logistic Squadron 24 at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base, both on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The system, deployed in June of this year, is expected to improve the Navy's and Marine Corps' asset visibility as materiel is transported both onto and off of the island.

GlobeRanger is providing software, middleware and integration for the system. Washington, D.C., supply chain management consultant XIO Strategies provided program management, with Alien Technology and Psion Teklogix supplying hardware.


At the Navy's warehouse in Pearl Harbor, a technician transports an incoming pallet through an RFID portal.

The two Oahu bases receive and ship materiel destined for troops or other bases, or broken equipment that need to be shipped to the mainland for repair. In either case, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is now tagging those items with Alien EPC Gen 2 passive UHF RFID tags at its Pearl Harbor location. The tags are scanned and linked to a product number associated with data about the item in a variety of Naval legacy systems.

Without the RFID tracking system, says Michael Bigbee, GlobeRanger's senior VP of sales, the Navy had little visibility into the locations of assets as they were moved through or stored in warehouses. Although active RFID tags are often placed on containers for overseas shipping, and scanned at port locations, it's the other stops along the supply chain that are hard to track, he says. With real-time data regarding an asset's location, military personnel in Oahu are able to avoid ordering extra, unnecessary "just in case" assets. The Navy now has increased visibility into when an item is shipped, what time it is expected to arrive at its next location or its whereabouts if it is delayed.

The Navy brought this problem to GlobeRanger in early 2008. The greatest challenge for the company was data management, which the Navy currently manages on a variety of legacy systems employed by various bases and military branches. As the Navy switches to an SAP ERP system (the transition is expected to be completed sometime between 2015 and 2017), the agency required an RFID solution that could work with the various existing legacy systems and easily shift to the SAP ERP software. In the case of the Marine Corps, the systems will switch to Oracle's ERP software.

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