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New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Enhances Response Capabilities

Posted August 5, 2010

DOHMH enhances capabilitiesSafer and Sound. In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and subsequent anthrax outbreaks, decision-makers at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) took a new look at how environmental and radiation scientists and sanitarians gathered data following the events that would spawn a citywide public-health crisis. They found that some old methods no longer worked.

Simple things, such as providing locations for survey meter measurements, were rendered impossible. Before 9/11, department responders used pen and paper to record sample identification information and locations of environmental data measurements such as chemical concentration or radiation dose rate measurements.

To responders returning from field-testing and data collection, a data dump often required a good memory. “A lot of it was just recollection when they came back into the office with data,” said DOHMH City Scientist Mickey Jones. “We’d ask, ‘Where have you been? How did you get this?’ We’re trying to get response personnel off that mindset and into something much more organized, like this system is.”

The system she refers to uses the Intermec 760 mobile computer and Global Bay HazardPoint software for environmental emergencies. Global Positioning System (GPS) is used to automatically record address and landmark-dependent location information.

Pen and paper are replaced by a wireless system designed to contain incident-specific data collection forms with GIS-based (Geographical Information Systems) city maps. Instead of bringing a disk back from the field for sensor data uploads, the system provides GPRS transmissions in real time.

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Anniston Army Depot Tracks Parts, Saves Time and Money with Intermec

Posted August 5, 2010

Anniston Army Depot, located in Anniston, Alabama, is a major United States Army facility that employs more than 7,000 people. The site’s primary responsibility is the repair and rebuilding of tracked vehicles such as armored personnel carriers, tanks and tank retriever vehicles for the Army and Marines.

Gigantic machines such as the 60-ton M1 Abrams tank – comprised of as many as 27,000 parts – are shipped to Anniston, then completely disassembled. There, the parts are cleaned, repaired, refurbished or replaced, then reassembled into a complete vehicle that is returned to the fighting force.

It is an enormous challenge to keep track of the millions of parts as they move throughout the refurbishment processes across the Anniston Nichols Industrial Complex. Depending upon the part, items may go through washing, sandblasting, painting, acid bath, welding, etc.– up to thirty possible processes in all. These processes are conducted in over 50 buildings on the complex.

The previous manual parts tracking process was costly to the Army in both labor and lost parts. What they needed was an automated work in process (WIP) solution to help track each part as it moves through the refurbishing processes and the enormous Industrial Complex. Since Anniston will soon migrate to an SAP-based system, the new solution had to be SAP compatible.

Deploying Efficiency
Intermec Technologies was enlisted to provide a turn-key solution that would bring Anniston to the forefront of the Army Depot Overhaul facilities. This solution began with the implementation of a state-of-the-art wireless network. The wireless infrastructure is comprised of approximately 50 Cisco Routers and 109 Access Points in 50 buildings within the Industrial Complex. The wired network infrastructure was also expanded to support wireless communication with the addition of over 10 miles of cable and over one mile of fiber. Finally, more than 80 Intermec CK31 handheld computers and 40 Intermec PM4i printers were implemented to support the WIP solution.

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US Navy Uses RFID Technology to Reduce Inventory Time by 98 Percent

Posted August 5, 2010

Intermec Helps US Navy Reduce Inventory TimeThe magnificent flying machines deployed by the United States Navy are technological wonders. While the planes and their pilots may be the stars of the show, deploying a Naval aviation squadron usually requires a skilled crew and a pack-up kit, or PUK, containing hundreds of replacement parts worth $10 million or more.

The U.S. Navy Regional Supply Office in Norfolk, Va. provides logistical support for the aircraft squadrons stationed at Naval Air Station Norfolk. Aircraft types based at NAS Norfolk include E-2C, C-2, MH-53, H-46, SH-3 and MH-60. When a squadron is deployed, a PUK of several pallets and five-by-five-by-five foot cartons of supplies, known as tri-walls, are sent along with it, traveling from the regional supply office command to the supply command assigned to the squadron. A typical E2C PUK contains 500-600 parts.

Before the PUK leaves Norfolk, both commands must agree upon the contents. In the past, one person called out part numbers from a printed list while two others — each representing a command — checked off the items on their own inventory lists. Any discrepancies were noted and manually entered into the system after the inventory was complete. This process usually took three people a total of 24 man-hours. At an average burdened wage of $28.83 per hour, the labor cost for performing one PUK inventory was in excess of $690. Multiply that by the 64 PUKs inventoried at least four times a year at Norfolk alone, and the Navy had a very costly logistical nightmare.

In addition, once the PUK was in the field, simply locating one part out of the 500 in the kit could take hours. And there was little visibility into the replenishment supply chain, sometimes resulting in multiple orders of the same part.

Testing RFID
To improve inventory management, the supply officers at NAS Norfolk looked to radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and the expertise of a team of logistics and RFID specialists, including Intermec Technologies, Serco, Phase IV Engineering, Boh Environmental and PSC Technology.

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Paul Bugar Trucking Inc. Increases Efficiency with Motorola’s Mobile Radios

Posted August 5, 2010

Motorola Improves Fleet ManagementThe trucking industry today is faced with a multitude of challenges with fuel cost increases placed firmly at the top of the list. However, according to the American Transportation Research Institute’s report (“Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry—2008”), that’s just one of the top ten issues with which the industry must cope. Other challenges include slumping demand due to the economy; growing traffic congestion; increasing toll fees; and governmental regulations.

“It’s harder to make money these days,” says Paul Bugar, Jr., president of Paul Bugar Trucking Inc. “You just have to keep making adjustments.”

Lack of coverage and inadequate communications hinder productivity. One of those adjustments is ensuring that the operation has the tools required to run more efficiently and cost effectively. Several years ago, Paul Bugar purchased a two-way mixed radio system to enable better communications between dispatch and the drivers, as well as among the drivers themselves.

“The radio system had a little bit of everything but it served our purpose at the time,” says Paul.

As the business continued to grow and the coverage area expanded, the radios no longer provided adequate range and the company eventually began to rely more heavily on cell phone usage. However, this strategy had its own problems with spotty cell coverage in some rural areas, cell phone bills that reached thousands of dollars per month, and the danger of drivers diverting attention away from the road while they placed a call or answered the phone.

“We were unable to consistently communicate,” Paul says. “And when we could talk, many times there was interference from a local bus company.”

The radios had also been installed incorrectly so Motorola was called in to correct the situation. However the radios still didn’t get the coverage or performance Paul required. It was time to consider migrating to newer technology.

Quick return on investment and operational cost reduction
Motorola proposed a cost-effective migration achieved through ‘as needed’ replacement of Paul Bugar’s existing radios with the Motorola CM200 Mobile Two-Way Radios. Designed specifically for businesses like Paul Bugar Trucking Inc., the ergonomic control panel of the CM200 radios offered ease of use, even for drivers wearing heavy gloves. In addition, the durable radios can withstand harsh environments including rain, blowing dust, vibration and exposure to salt, fog and extreme temperatures.

Today, Paul has completed the phase-out of the old radios and the new system consists entirely of Motorola CM200s. The radios enable the company’s drivers to communicate throughout the entire coverage area of up to 40 miles and have already saved the company money.

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Palmetto Electric Coop Improves Field Inspections

Posted August 5, 2010

Motorola CanopySituation:
Founded by enterprising rural residents in 1940 to bring power to South Carolina’s Low Country, Palmetto Electric Cooperative has grasped the importance of innovative technology and productive partnerships for decades. Ten years after it first ran lines to rural Hampton County, it electrified Hilton Head, setting the stage for the island’s rapid growth.

Today, this customer-owned cooperative serves nearly 60,000 in a 3-county area that weaves together mainland and offshore. Palmetto’s relationships range from purchasing electricity generated by Santee Cooper to forging an alliance with Touchstone Energy’s national network of 600 co-ops. And for the past 25 years, Palmetto has relied on Motorola as a partner for progressive products and superior support.

Palmetto wanted capabilities to beat the bandwidth. Specifically, to increase bandwidth to its substations for the automated meter reading (AMR) system. Its older radio system was used for polled data, too slow to provide the speed of broadband to transmit data from substations to its main office. Other choices, such as phone lines and T1 lines, were cost prohibitive and problematic.

This proactive utility also sought ways to save costs on SCADA and mine the wealth of information at its 25 substations spanning 650 square miles. Could Palmetto cut down on time-consuming trips to substations and achieve data connectivity with one cost-effective network? Would the system grow as they added voice over IP?

Solution:
The Canopy system was the one solution that met myriad requirements. “We looked at the options,” says Gary Jeger, Vice President of Information Systems, “and Canopy was less expensive and offered higher bandwidth. We also looked at our needs in the future and Canopy was more cost-effective, its payback period was short and it’s a very reliable system, easy to maintain and easy to program.”

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US Naval Air Force Reserve Optimizes Resources and Labor with Mobile Computers

Posted August 5, 2010

Intermec ScannerThe U.S. Commander Naval Air Forces Reserve (CNAFR) maintains and repairs military aircraft such as the E-2C Hawkeye, an early warning radar aircraft; AH-1 Cobra, a strike helicopter; and EA-6B Prowler, an aircraft that jams electronic signals. Other aircraft include the FA-18 Hornet strike fighter and C-130 Hercules transport plane. During times of war, CNAFR sends troops to battle, reducing manpower on the base. This means fewer Sailors are available to repair aircraft.

Each piece of equipment within the aircraft must be in working order to assure the safety of the aircrew and optimize the chances for success in combat. So at the beginning of the War on Terror, CNAFR wanted a way to optimize the manpower on base while expediting the repair process so aircraft could return to combat as soon as possible. To do so, CNAFR teamed up with Intermec Technologies and partner Diamond Data System to help develop its Base Level Inventory Tracking System (BLITS).

Manual Processes Delay and Dislocate
Several Naval Air Force Reserve bases have warehouses that store equipment and parts for the repair of military aircraft. So when a repair part is not available at one base, logistics personnel must input a requisition for stock from another.

“Before BLITS, the sailors had to call the other base and track down the repair part,” said Lieutenant Commander Chris Stevens of CNAFR. “Parts were often tracked using spreadsheets, so users in one base weren’t able to read the spreadsheet in another without having to call someone to look it up. Ultimately, it took a lot of work, wasting unnecessary time and labor.”

Before BLITS was deployed, CNAFR used a bar-coded form to track orders. Sailors would also have to use this form when requesting parts to repair aircraft. Whenever a part was delivered to the base, a driver took the part into the warehouse and had the form signed by a recipient. Once the driver returned to the warehouse with the form, the data was manually entered into a database used for tracking parts between bases. Using this system, it wasn’t uncommon for items to be misplaced.

“With the long strings of numbers associated with aviation components, typos were made when inputting data,” said Stevens. “This could wreak havoc on our system because it showed that the wrong part was ordered or delivered. Another problem was misplacing parts throughout the supply chain. This resulted in increased labor and expenses because of the time it took to determine the origin of the mistake or the location of the part. ”

BLITS Tracking Features Deliver
In order to reduce the opportunities for error and optimize labor, CNAFR turned to Intermec to install BLITS. A key component of BLITS is Intermec’s CK31G mobile computers, which are used for tracking repair parts. Using the new system, when a driver delivers a part, it must be scanned by someone’s Common Access Card (CAC) for it to be received. When the CAC card is scanned, the system identifies who received the item and the date and time. This information is stored on the CK31G mobile computer until it is docked and uploaded to a central server.

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Bar Code Labels Stand the Test of Time on Signs

Posted August 5, 2010

Zebra Z Series PrinterChallenge
There are approximately 18,000 road signs to guide drivers through Kitsap County,Wash., which covers 396 scenic square miles on the Puget Sound. To properly track and maintain each one of those signs, Kitsap County had to manually enter sign inventory data and maintenance records into a database—an extremely time consuming and error-prone task. “The staff were spending an hour or more per day in the shop looking up information and transcribing what they had done in the field onto an electronic spreadsheet,” said Jeff Shea, a Kitsap County traffic engineer. “Weekly checks indicated that numbers were being transposed and sign information was getting incorrectly documented. With some 18,000 signs, it was imperative that we got a handle on correctly identifying the correct sign with the correct action.”

Shea wanted to find a less labor intensive way of recording information in the field and entering it into the computer system. Unaware of any existing automated sign management applications, Shea faced the challenges of finding appropriate application software, sourcing durable mobile computers that could operate in harsh weather conditions, and determining a way to permanently identify signs. To top it off, the solution also had to be easy to use and affordable.

Solution
They decided on SignTrack, and a durable labeling solution from Zebra Technologies that operates on easy-to-use Phaser mobile bar code scanning terminals from Symbol Technologies. This solution would lead Kitsap to become what is believed to be the first county road department in the nation to use handheld terminals and bar codes to manage road signs.

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Chippewa County Improves Emergency Response in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Posted August 5, 2010

Motorola Wireless BridgeSituation:
The need for reliable, cost-effective connectivity with the state’s emergency response system
The eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula consists of three counties—Chippewa, Luce and Mackinac—that are home to a wide range of residents. The area boasts a variety of locations and lifestyles: the bustling port cities of Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace and numerous rural communities as well as the tourist mecca of Mackinac Island. This mix of urban, rural and seasonal populations combines with long, hard winters and an area of 3,486 square miles to create a challenging emergency response environment.

To improve operations across the region, the three counties agreed to centralize emergency dispatch operations. Because it possessed the newest network and equipment, Mackinac and Luce Counties agreed to contract with Chippewa County to create a leading-edge regional dispatch center. There were three main objectives: help reduce response time, improve efficiency and increase safety for residents of the region. There was one major challenge: to convince the state of Michigan that wireless connectivity to the Michigan Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS) would not only be affordable, but also reliable and secure. Complicating matters was a very aggressive timetable. The goal was to have the system operational by December 1, 2008.

Solution: High-speed Motorola 4.9 GHz Point-to-Point wireless network
To accommodate additional call volume from the other two counties, Chippewa County needed to replace its existing dispatch system with a solution that delivered more bandwidth. The county explored a number of different technology alternatives for building the new network. Traditionally, Michigan dispatch operations have used licensed microwave-based solutions for data transport. But traditional licensed microwave networks can cost tens of thousands of dollars per link, well beyond the project’s budget. Another possibility was leasing T1 lines from telephone providers, but T1 lines have their own issues. One is cost; monthly recurring lease costs can run from $300 to $1,300 per month per line. Other problems include reliability, lack of availability of T1s due to the remoteness of the desired location, timing of deployment and loss of control due to dependence on an outside supplier.

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Continuous Improvement Key to Chain of Custody Evidence Excellence

Posted August 5, 2010

Zebra 2746eSince 1960, Long Island’s Suffolk County Police Department has racked up awards and gained national recognition, thanks to its high-tech evidence tracking system and keen focus on its continuous improvement. Ever since the tracking system was instituted in 1960—after the five western towns of Suffolk County, New York, decided to merge their police departments into one unit – it has been a source of pride for the Suffolk County Police Department.

Located on Long Island, about 70 miles east of Manhattan, the Suffolk County Police Department has jurisdiction over 560 square miles, protects 1.4 million residents, and collects between 70,000 and 75,000 pieces of evidence annually.

“In 43 years, we’ve never lost a piece of evidence,” said officer Michael Beam, the firearms and narcotics control officer who works in the Property Section.

Because of its sterling reputation, the Suffolk County Property Section has earned numerous awards and national recognition. It has been featured on Discovery Channel’s “Curators of Crime” program, and is used as an example in seminars conducted by the International Association for Property and Evidence. Officials from more than 30 law enforcement agencies have visited Suffolk County to learn about how to improve their own evidence management procedures.

Challenge:
Although considered one of the nation’s best, the Suffolk County Police Department has made improving procedures for identifying, managing, and accessing the vast amount of evidence within its system a continuous process.

In 1988, the county became the first in the nation to implement the ACE computerized evidence management system. Processes were further automated in the 1990s when a thermal label printer was added to the system to automatically create evidence labels and eliminate the need for manual labeling.

In late 2002, the Property Section began tracking evidence with bar codes for the first time. As part of the transition, the department began an upgrade from its original ACE DOS-based evidence tracking software from Software Techniques to a newer, Windows-based version called WinACE, which supports bar code data entry.

When police officers collect evidence at the scene of a crime, they bring it back to their respective precincts, where it is signed in and locked up. Lost or stolen property recovered by officers is also submitted to the precincts.

Each day, the assigned officers of the department’s Property Section collect these items from the precincts and bring them to a 30,000-square-foot warehouse. More than 220,000 items are stored in the warehouse where they remain untouched until they are released, destroyed, or requested by a police officer or the district attorney’s office. (The oldest invoice of evidence in the warehouse is from an unsolved 1931 murder.)

Every box, every envelope, every item—from a tiny piece of glass to an item as large as a boat—must be labeled before being stored in the warehouse. Eleven civilian Evidence Control clerks and five police officers have the responsibility of recording evidence into the system, then maintaining records and safeguarding the evidence until it is needed.

Solution:
Items were labeled with a dot matrix printer until 1995, when the department installed its first thermal label printer, an Eltron QB440 (Eltron International merged with Zebra Technologies in 1998). The lone printer performed flawlessly, producing more than 70,000 labels annually, but the department decided to purchase a new unit as part of its system upgrade.

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Tracking Evidence and Stolen Property is Easier with a Portable Bar Code Solution

Posted August 5, 2010

Zebra Mobile PrintersFor most companies, inventory-tracking errors are important, but rarely life-or-death situations. For the Lake County (Ill.) Sheriff’s Department however, “life-or-death” takes on new meaning. To manage all its criminal evidence, victims’ personal effects and lost items, this Sheriff’s Department turned to bar coding to ensure that nothing is misplaced or mislabeled.

Challenge:
Once evidence is received at the Lake County Sheriff’s Department’s evidence facility, it must be entered into the system to identify what is in inventory and how it got there. Traditionally, after sealing an item in an evidence bag, the officer would fill out a handwritten form to request that the items be submitted into property control. The property control form included all vital information about the item: the case number, the nature of the incident, the time and date that the item was collected, the location of the offense, the location at which the item was collected (if different), the name of the victim or suspect, the property owner’s information (in the case of stolen property) and an identifying number provided by the officer to sequentially record the many individual items recovered at each scene. Finally, the officer would include a brief description of the evidence itself. Besides being a time-consuming task—a new form had to be completed for each item—the information on this form was only as valid as the legibility of the officer’s handwriting. After submitting the form, the information would then be manually entered into the system, diminishing the likelihood for complete validity even further.

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