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CMA cuts work effort with new technology

10 Aug 2012 | Diane Durden

Work smarter, not harder is a phrase spoken by Marines everywhere, but for personnel at the Combat Center’s Center Magazine Area, it’s a phrase they’ve taken to heart.


They used to document ammunition issued and turned-in by hand, which was time consuming with multiple steps and often prone to errors. They’ve recently implemented new technology to cut their labor in half. They now use an automated, multi-functional system, named “Ammo Tools 4.0.”

It started with an idea to replace a single action, the use of hand-made stencils and spray paint to label ammunition containers.

When customers returned ammunition, the containers needed to be relabeled identifying the ammunition, along with the material condition code and lot numbers.

“When we first started, what we tried to get rid of was doing the spray paint and stencils,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jeramy Parham, former officer-in-charge, Center Magazine Area. “That’s what drove the initial thought process. We replaced it with printed labels you could mass produce.”

“When you had a can of ammunition that had been opened, you had to make a tag for it. If you had 50 of those cans and you had to handwrite them out, the accuracy was dependent on the person. Now we have the ability to automate that process. All the tags get printed out the same and they’re correct,” Parham said.

Creating a database that could be used to pull the information from and generate the labels was just the beginning.

“We started putting it into use in other areas to reduce human error and speed up the process,” Parham said.

When issuing ammunition to units, the system generates all the documents including the movement records, the internal documents that track the movement of ammunition to and from the magazines, used by the data section to maintain accurate accounting records within the CMA.

Printed barcodes on the documents are scanned, eliminating the need for manual data entry, significantly reducing input errors.

These same barcodes are used again when units return with their unused ammunition.

Previously, units would have to bring their issue documents with them and CMA personnel would handwrite DD Form 1348s. Now, ammunition technicians simply enter the Unit Identification Code and document number, or scan the barcode from the issue document. The program populates the information for the turn-in documents, labels and condition code tags.

“This year we’ve processed 65,000 documents with the new system,” said Bill Glover, deputy director, Center Magazine Area. “We have a .04 percent error rate on documentation. I don’t think anyone can claim that.”

There are 15 stationary Ammo Tools stations set up within CMA’s compound and six mobile stations.

The mobile stations, set-up in specially reconfigured vehicles, allow personnel to provide the same service in the field.

The solar powered mobile stations allow CMA personnel to provide support to units at their ammunition holding areas, inventorying, repackaging and labeling of the ammunition, eliminating long waits at the CMA.

Eliminating duplication of efforts and redundancies in procedures has created a working environment that is getting more done with less manpower in less time.

“We’ve taken a two or three day process for a turn-in and reduced it to a few hours. It’s a huge man hour savings,” Glover said.

“We’re still building on it. When units turn-in their ammo, we will have the capability of creating their expenditure reports based up on the information in the database,” Glover said.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms