From among the nine other private sector innovators added by Secretary Carter to the Defense Innovation Advisory Board, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, brings to the table a valuable commercial perspective on the benefits of automated technologies that the Department of Defense could benefit greatly from.
The culture at Amazon lives and breathes modern Auto ID technology—whether this is tracking items in and out of warehouses or enabling the delivery of goods to your doorstep. Bezos has brought automation technology to the forefront of Amazon, giving the organization a significant competitive advantage.
Dave Clark, Amazon‘s senior VP of worldwide operations and customer service reported, that they have recently partnered with the RFID Lab at Auburn University to “develop new solutions for implementing RFID in our Amazon supply chain, specifically focused on tagging and driving inbound items through our fulfillment process”. Clark goes on to say “We fully expect to be inventing new processes, new technology and new uses of RFID”.
Historically, the US Military has not been on the leading edge of Auto ID technology and they have not made it an important part of their culture. Not only is this a missed opportunity to improve support for the warfighters by ensuring the right equipment and supplies are in the right place but the military can also play a key leadership role in the use of barcode and RFID technologies across the federal government which would save taxpayer dollars.
Defense Innovation Advisory Board Created to Enhance the DoD’s Efforts
Secretary Carter organized the Defense Innovation Advisory Board in March 2016 specifically in an effort to enhance DoD’s culture, organization and processes by tapping innovators from the private sector in Silicon Valley.
“If we’re going to have the best military in the world, as we must have, 10, 20 years, 30 years from now, we need to strengthen our partnership with companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing and many others that I’ve met out here.” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said following his visit to the Amazon Headquarters in Seattle in May.
“It’s part of the responsibility of the department, not only to fight today’s fight but to make sure that we’re superior for tomorrow’s. And the most important ingredient is our wonderful people, but secondly, it’s technology.”
Auto-ID Tracking is Central to Supply Chain Innovation, both in Private and Public Sector Organizations
As anyone who has ordered anything online knows, the accurate, real-time tracking, of the package, is the point where the most errors occur in supply chain management systems. This “Achilles Heel” of supply management systems is the weakest point since the systems needed to accurately track and capture that data require a robust, consistent infrastructure that requires little oversight to ensure quality.
Automated Identification technologies are central to shoring up real-time data-tracking discrepancies that have plagued the industry since the adoption of digital asset tracking systems. In addressing these weaknesses, the Pentagon in the last 12 years has sought to eliminate its supply chain vulnerabilities by creating and enforcing strict Automated ID compliance standards.
In the private sector, shipping and transportation giants like UPS, FedEx, and now Amazon, long have utilized Auto ID applications, which accounts for their reputation for fast, accurate asset tracking and fulfillment.
The inclusion of Jeff Bezos to the Defense Innovation Advisory Board is an exciting development. The partnership between Bezos and the DoD can only stand to enhance and refine existing Auto ID applications in both the private and the public sector with the potential to truly transform supply and logistics methodologies of the future.