735th AMS introduces first automatic cargo processing initiative

Staff Sgt. Philip Beasley, 735th Air Mobility Squadron assistant air freight shift supervisor, performs cargo inventory using a new digital program at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 24, 2017.

Staff Sgt. Philip Beasley, 735th Air Mobility Squadron assistant air freight shift supervisor, performs cargo inventory using a new digital program at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 24, 2017. The 735 AMS developed the Air Force’s first automated cargo processing program utilizing tablets and wireless scanners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Redman)

Staff Sgt. Philip Beasley, 735th Air Mobility Squadron assistant air freight shift supervisor, performs cargo inventory using a new digital program at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 24, 2017.

Staff Sgt. Philip Beasley, 735th Air Mobility Squadron assistant air freight shift supervisor, performs cargo inventory using a new digital program at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Aug. 24, 2017. The 735 AMS developed the Air Force’s first automated cargo processing program utilizing tablets and wireless scanners. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Redman)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Airmen from the 735th Air Mobility Squadron have developed and tested a new automated system to save time and money here Aug. 23.

In February 2017 the 735th AMS discussed the possibility of combining readily available resources along with off-the-shelf technology to expedite cargo processing. By utilizing tablets and wireless scanners, the 735th AMS has developed in implemented the Air Forces’ first wireless cargo processing program.

“The Air Force is constantly pushing for innovation, and this is a big step for us in that direction,” said Capt. Joseph Henn, 735th AMS transportation operations officer. “By utilizing the Wi-Fi and tablets in the cargo bays, we have become more mobile and are able to complete multiple tasks at once.”

Although the objective for this new program is to run entirely digital, paper records are still maintained to some degree.

“If for some reason the Wi-Fi does fail, we always have the ability go back to our own procedures. It just takes more time,” said Staff Sgt. Philip Beasley, 735th AMS assistant air freight shift supervisor. 

Inspiration for the new program came from processes in place in the civilian sector.

“Private shipping companies are able to ship to customers very quickly because their processes are automated,” said Master Sgt. Reynaldo Penamora, 735th AMS air freight superintendent. “They take the cargo off the plane, scan it, and they sort it. Our goal with this is to mimic their processes.”

The original process used to take an average of 65 minutes to complete inventory and pallet build up.  With most of that time being used to verify shipping numbers by hand.

“Our new process eliminates wasted time of walking back and forth and has the advantage of being more accurate,” said Penamora. “By utilizing equipment we already had available to us, we have been able to automate most of our documents. Which, we can now share almost instantaneously with the other offices.”

Since its implementation the automated program has reduced the number of process steps from 34 to 20, decreased processing times by 46 percent and eliminated all errors.

“Going digital decreases time and the number of steps in our processes by eliminating the need to run between offices,” said Senior Master Sgt. William Palmer, 735th AMS aerial port operations superintendent.