Manufacturers in the defense industry face a significant amount of regulations because many of the products that are produced and distributed are of a sensitive nature. Inventory management and data collection play a big role in helping organizations stay compliant with many of the federal rules in place. Wireless networks and barcoding can provide manufacturers in the defense industry with the tools they need to keep track of inventory and improve operations overall.
Federal Agencies Issue to Rules
Just recently, both the U.S. State and Commerce Departments indicated new regulations are part of the Export Control Reform that manufacturers of military electronics are required to follow, according to law firm Williams Mullen.
The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls issued a ruling on the U.S. Munitions List, which covers military electronics. Per the ruling, radar systems, electronic sensing equipment and surveillance systems all fall under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which the Department of Defense oversees.
The overarching goal of the amendments is to make the list of controlled items more accurate and up to date by eliminating and replacing certain products.
Some items that military electronics manufacturers currently make no longer have to meet licensing requirements. Some of the electronics that are designed specifically for military use and support will be transferred to the the DOC's Commerce Control List "600 Series," which essentially means they face more stringent rules under the Export Administration Regulations.
Mobile Data Collection Ensures Compliance
Existing and new regulations often create complicated scenarios for defense industry manufacturers, but there are solutions that can establish a better functioning workspace. Cobham Defense Electronics works with organizations in the defense and aerospace industries as a supplier of microwave components, assemblies and subsystems. The company wanted to make the change to integrate greater automation into their stockroom to create a more functional workflow.
One of the issues this and other defense electronics manufacturers face is the fact that components involved in productions and assembly are difficult to keep track of for a number of reasons. Tony Navarro, stockroom, shipping and receiving supervisor at Cobham Defense Electronics, indicated there are numerous parts that are miniscule. Because the stockroom is responsible for putting together production kits that are eventually sent to the assembly line, it's critical to continually monitor all parts.
Manual processes not only slow down inventory management, but they also create an environment that's often strewn with errors.
"When I started with the company I inherited the stockroom which had 2,500 back orders that hadn't been fulfilled," explained Navarro. "The employees were working 12 hour days, seven days a week."
When Navarro came on board, he proposed the idea of automating kit preparation and processing using wireless scanners and printers. As noted above, regulations governing military electronics are strict, requiring detailed tracking and traceability. Accordingly, Cobham Defense Electronics decided to partner with RFgen for an automated data collection solution specifically for the stockroom.
An All-In-One Solution
Because RFgen Mobile Foundations for SAP includes pre-written, SAP-validated solutions that communicates bi-directionally with Cobham Defense Electronics' SAP system, it was the ideal choice. Equipped with barcode scanners and portable printers, stockroom workers are able to pick stock from different bins and create two labels: One is affixed to the bin to reflect current stock levels and the other is attached to the kit to help the company meet traceability requirements.
After implementing the mobile data collection solution and wireless labeling system, the organization eliminated 2,500 backordered kits, reduced costs by 25 percent and earned back 30 percent in labor efficiency.