How the Military can learn from IKEA, and digitize its logistics and build the perfect self-service solution
Logistics is at the heart of a country’s defense. They must always ensure that everyone has the equipment and clothing they need so that the necessary military personnel can respond at short notice. The answer is clear: military needs to digitize its logistics.
“Previously, the inventory of the material at the repository was based on pen and paper registrations, with subsequent additions running the inherent risk of errors resulting from duplication. A lot of time was spent trying to keep track of our own material, and this probably resulted in a lot of waste”, said Head of Division of the Norwegian Defense Logistics Organization, Krister Andre Marstein.
The Norwegian Defense has previously worked on large and heavy IT projects where the user interface has not been adequately addressed. The Norwegian Defense would thus explore what opportunities they have for using existing technology to enhance the user experience and digitize their military logistics. And operating with limited network access diminished their ability to retrieve accurate data from other sources.
The Norwegian Defense Story
When the Norwegian Defense was about to change its practice, they drew inspiration from other heavy logistics organizations such as IKEA’s self-service solution. The goal was to find smarter, simpler and standardized solutions. They wanted to quickly digitize logistics and manual work methods and now have several good solutions based on good software and sharp heads.
“Previously the soldier had to come to the depot and manually find equipment and clothes that were then written down with a pen on paper. We have redesigned the whole process and the goal is that you can now both scan everything you need and sign on the same app, which also works offline. The cash system will eventually become self-service, so that manual work is reduced while we have the best possible control over the equipment”, says Marstein.
Much of a defense strategy is based on available equipment at the right time and in the right place. Everybody in the defense needs new clothes and new equipment several times a year. During the most hectic periods, there have been several hundred a day that need something in stock.
“The digitization of this process has contributed to reducing the time spent on keeping track of the inventory by 50 per cent and eliminating other sources of error. The soldiers get what they need faster and the waste consists mainly of what cannot be reused or recycled, but is worn out” says Marstein.
The Norwegian Defense is pleased with the modernization of logistics that took place in record time. They are now looking at opportunities for the defense-specific solutions to be reused by other defense organizations among Allied countries.
Neptune Software, which has provided the solution for the Norwegian Defense, has also previously worked with the defense in other countries such as the New Zealand Defense Force (NZDF).
The New Zealand Defence Force Story
“NZDF wanted to digitize the inventory management and inventory processing which was traditionally carried out manually and was very labor intensive as all equipment had to be physically counted. It took them 3 months to get an overview of the weapons stockpile, mainly due to human error. Getting an accurate overview of the equipment was almost impossible”, says Neptune Software CEO Andreas Grydeland Sulejewski.
“Today, all the military equipment is RFID labeled. A NZDF employee can simply stand at the front of a storage room, boat hatch or aircraft, and using an RFID scanner, the system will automatically pick up every weapon or equipment within the scanner area that has an RFID tag. Staff responsible for inventory are no longer required to remove all equipment and manually record or verify every item. A job that could previously take two people half a day to do is now reduced to 40 seconds which is just the time it takes them to go down the ranks. All the paperwork, and all the mistakes, are now gone and staff can spend their time on more important tasks,” says Sulejewski.
Previously, Norwegian Defense soldiers needed to go to the depot and manually find their equipment.
Now, they have redesigned the whole process with an offline app that soldiers can use to scan everything they need.
The digitization of the process has reduced the time for tracking inventory by 50%.
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