NAVSUP Automatic Identification Technology (AIT)
Project Description: The Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP), and its designated Navy AIT Program Office, is delegated primary responsible for identifying AIT insertion opportunities to address Navy specific needs on all classes of material. The Navy required contractor support for the education, oversight, and coordination of focused implementations and prototypes of Automatic Identification Technology (AIT) initiatives, as well as research and analysis relating to Uniform Identification (Unique ID/UID) projects. The technical focus of the Automatic Identification Technology (AIT) project encompassed logistics tracking, locating/monitoring of assets throughout the global transportation network and within Navy logistics’ supply, and maintenance applications.
AIT is the basic building block in the Department of Defense (DoD) efforts to provide timely total asset visibility. AIT gives the DoD the capability to track and control items over their lifecycle, support knowledge-enabled logistics and readiness, increase inventory accuracy, and reduce redundant requirements. The capability to rapidly locate, track and maintain material within the war time scenario significantly reduces the logistics footprint and supports achievement of the desired level of forward deployed supply support at reduced cost. The Navy AIT requirement included associated technical engineering services, systems integration, site surveys, business cost analyses (BCAs), vendor product testing, prototype testing, instructional training, documentation and deployment, engineering support, AIT related policy and standards evaluation and dissemination and program management support. The defined work effort also included requirements for prototypes, focused implementations, development of DoD and Navy automated information systems integration and interfaces, comprehensive data collection, analyses, data storage information assessment, information processing and transmission of AIT data for real time asset identification and location from vendor-to-battlefield-to-disposal.
Main Sail, as the primary 1st tier subcontractor, provided significant and comprehensive technical, program management, engineering and integrated logistics support to deliver innovative solutions and cost savings to the Navy on three major projects as part of the Navy AIT Program Management, Engineering and Technical Services IDIQ contract, awarded in 2005. Main Sail was tasked with providing both normal project staffing and responsive surge requirements to support the NAVSUP logistics mission. An overview of each Task Order work effort follows:
- Navy ERP Logistics – The Bangor RFID Evaluation (BRE): With a “go live” date of March 2006, BRE was a ground breaking project for the Navy under the direction of the Navy AIT office, combining leading edge passive Radio Frequency Identification (pRFID) technology with an SAP warehouse management solution which served as the template for the Navy ERP Warehouse Management solution, now deployed to 104 Navy warehouses. The larger warehouses utilize CDMA based wireless utilizing Intermec CN4eg devices that Main Sail assisted the Navy to standardize. The Navy’s RFID Asset Visibility Enterprise (RAVE) project, which allows the Navy to meet Office of the Secretary of Defense’s (OSD’s) pRFID implementation goals, also utilizes the same wireless implementation approach. This is the first full production site to receive ASN data and tagged material from the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). It is also the first such project implemented inside the Navy’s NMCI network environment and the first Navy project to operate pRFID equipment over the NMCI WAN. The BRE solution is used to manage over 120,000 line items valued at over $650 million and stored in over 300,000 SF of warehouse space in multiple buildings at the Bangor, Washington site. The primary mission of the Bangor operation is to provide logistics support to the one of our nation’s primary strategic military assets – Trident Nuclear Submarines. The BRE project is now the primary logistics conduit to “put nuclear submarines to sea” on the West Coast.
Main Sail’s Navy AIT ERP based Warehouse Management, pRFID functionality and secure cellular wireless architecture has broad applicability to any DoD logistics installation and its “plug-and-play” interface design allows it to be easily interfaced with a variety of legacy or ERP systems using MILS, DLMS or standard EDI based transactions.
The solutions delivered across these three systems were not only innovative, but ground breaking, to include:
- The first use of Passive RFID to automate receiving of materials directly into an SAP warehouse management system;
- The first use of CDMA based wireless technology to automate warehouse management for the entire NAVSUP enterprise;
- The first true enterprise RFID architecture which facilitates central location management of all RFID equipment and data; and
- The first enterprise level AIT Mobile Handheld management system to support the secure, central management of all AIT Mobile Applications and devices.
In each implementation the enterprise level device and application systems have facilitated a drastic reduction of infrastructure implementation and sustainment costs by dramatically reducing the site level footprint. This translates into the ability to better utilize funding to build the enterprise solutions.
Main Sail has developed a delivery methodology through the amalgamation of years of experiences embodied in its key personnel. The delivery of “first time” innovative solutions requires the definition of clear scope, objectives, and the execution of detailed solution agreements with all stakeholders and management tools to maintain a consistent view of all the delivery objects (software, hardware, communication and training) throughout the process.
Main Sail’s Project Management Methodology incorporates the following tools and approaches. These tools comprise the Main Sail’s Development Tracking Methodology (DTM) which incorporates:
- Creation of a structured Solution Outline, which is a joint exercise between client stakeholders and the Main Sail project team, to document all project deliverables. The indexed solution outline provides a summary of all project requirements in a single document, as well as a delineation of phased functionality releases, to serve as the basis for all reporting and project scheduling.
- Microsoft Project Plan files are directly linked to the Solution Outline and adds development estimates and schedules to complete the set of tracking documentation that are key to the overall management of technical implementations.
Each phase contained detailed plans and activities to assess technical, financial and programmatic progress. The planning documents for each phase contained detailed descriptions of the Purpose, Objectives and Deliverables for that phase. These were evaluated in depth and summarized into a project console that was reviewed each month in IPR (Interim Progress Reports) to a NAVSUP/NAVSISA Executive Steering Committee.
- The Development Object Tracking model documents the relationship between every component in the solution (physical or software assembly) and its relationship to other components (a BOM of components) and tracks to the Solution Outline.
- The Test and Acceptance database is used to track Unit Testing, Integration Testing and User Acceptance Testing for every object, tying to the Solution Outline with documentation of all functionality at a detailed level to define what testing or development needs must be completed to “turn on” the functionality.
- Specifications Library that contains a combined Functional and Technical specifications document that is linked to the Solution Outline database. This library contains the development instructions for the objects being created to address the functional requirements.
- Web based SharePoint technology is used to store and share information among team members.
Main Sail incorporated Product Improvements and Technical Changes during the execution of the BRE implementation on a continuous basis as follows:
- All change or enhancements are meticulously tracked throughout their lifecycle;
- Requests are prioritized based on impact and expense with “best value’ improvements implemented as a higher priority;
- New functionality was integrated into the environment with the same care as the original implementation.
- Separate Development, Quality Assurance and Production instances of each server were maintained; and
- As changes and improvements are implemented they are moved progressively from Development-to Quality Assurance-to-Production with testing and monitoring completed at each level to insure there is no adverse impact on the production environment.
Main Sail’s Delegated AIT Technical Work Effort included these tasks:
- Gap analysis and assessment for the BRE project; providing a detailed U2 functionality description, effort/cost estimates, interface analysis for the primary targeted legacy system (U2) and targeted legacy systems. The gap analysis consisted of analyzing defined business processes for the operations in Bangor and mapping them to SAP system functionality. The end product was identified gaps between functional requirements and standard SAP functionality, and identified opportunities for process re-engineering.
- Blueprinting and requirements gathering effort that delivered: a “solutions map” that specifies the functionality to meet NAVSUP requirements; a pilot site recommendation, with detailed analysis and site classification of 104 potential target sites; a strategic plan for implementing SAP Warehouse Management across the Navy enterprise and a cutover strategy for system implementation. Main Sail technicians created and coordinated baseline documents to support the project throughout the lifecycle, commencing this effort with the selection of a proven ERP implementation methodology that provided significant integration and functionality tools to technologically enable the client to re-engineer business processes and leverage the ‘best business practices’ presented by the SAP software.
- The design process for the BRE project consisted of design workshops for each functional area to match requirements with system functionality and identify the specific requirements for developing reports, interfaces, conversions and enhancements (RICE). The blueprint design was captured in customer template documents that explain the requirements and the identified solutions.
- A staff of up to 15 developers were employed to document all the technical components for the project, creating a Solution Management tracking system to monitor the status and progress of every development object. Documentation included a detailed library of Functional Description Summary (FDS), as well as corresponding Technical Description Summary (TDS) documentation. The development process was controlled using a detailed tracking database of development objects and weekly status meetings and updates. The BRE project used the NAVSUP Collaboration web site as the project documentation repository.
- Technical and contract review of NMCI and NNPI equipment and related equipment installation with the NMCI System Integrator, EDS, from multiple locations and disciplines within the EDS/NMCI organization. Main Sail technicians provided guidance to EDS/NMCI on technical details required to install both standard NMCI approved equipment, as well as new equipment undergoing NMCI certification. This required in-depth understanding of NMCI rules and requirements for network operation.
- Main Sail served as primary technical architect for WebMethods interfaces and related interface design and management tools. Main Sail created specifications, designed, documented, developed, tested and installed WebMethods interfaces between SAP and multiple legacy systems, managing the interfaces in a production environment. Main Sail also developed, tested and installed SAP ABAP programs including interfaces, user exits, reports, SAP Queries and entry screens.
- Implementation in production environment (startup with all equipment, close coordination with EDS/NMCI groups).
- Main Sail was also responsible for the physical construction of a variety of RFID related components that required prototypes to be engineered, constructed, tested, refined and documented. These physical structures included:
· RFID automated conveyor line assembly’s for use in the receiving areas;
· Joint engineering specification of Intermec CN4e handheld devices which have been adopted as the standard AIT device for NAVSUP warehousing and many other Navy applications;
· Specifying and engineering network equipment installation at various sites; and
· Specifying and engineering RFID portal equipment for installation at various sites.
Main Sail established formal issue and corrective actions tracking procedures in all of its project teams. Virtually every project under this contract was ground breaking using new technology in a unique manner. Building unique solutions for the first time, by definition brings challenges in the management of resources, schedules, configuration control and risk. Main Sail encountered and successfully overcame many such challenges.
The creation of the Navy’s wireless mobile AIT solution was an example of overcoming such a problem. At the outset of the BRE project the Navy had not been previously successful at implementing wireless technology for mobile AIT because of the challenges of meeting IA requirements. The initial BRE implementation was done with non-wireless mobile devices while the wireless solution was vetted. The non-wireless solution was not real time and was not an effective approach. A wireless real time solution was the answer, but it had never been accomplished securely for the Navy before.
In overcoming the challenges for wireless implementation, Main Sail worked directly with NSA resources (who actually set many of the security standards) to get a clear understanding of what would be acceptable to meet encryption and security standards. Utilizing this baseline research, Main Sail began to work with leading handheld manufacturers to adopt the successful combination of operating system, wireless transmitters, network adapters, local firewalls, data and transmission encryption standards and many other factors. These factors were combined into an AIT handheld requirements document that set the standard for the AIT devices and the wireless solution.
To solve communication and cost challenges, Main Sail developed the alternative leading edge wireless broadband CDMA approach discussed above in section A6.3. The final solution included a device that would operate in either 802.11x, CDMA or GSM cellular environments, was completely secure to FIPS 140-2 requirements and would authenticate users properly onto a Navy network using CAC cards. Currently the CDMA cellular wireless version of the solution is being implemented in Navy warehouses as the standard for the Navy ERP system and is incorporated into a system titled Navy Mobile Computing that is being offered to Navy and other government agencies as a very cost effective wireless approach that is Information Assurance compliant.
Main Sail worked vigorously with Government sponsors to ensure project success through numerous morphing schedule and cost constraints. Each phase of the project was delivered on schedule at projected cost. Main Sail was responsible for managing all training, communication, and organizational change management activities within the project, including development of the Project Team Training Plan, End User Training Plan, OCM & Communication Plan, and curriculum, and approval of all course designs. Main Sail led the team in specifying and designing the strategic architecture for the BRE solution, including the way the solution would interact with other legacy and ERP-based systems.