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Technology and Daily Management Help CRSPs Move Cargo

The author lays out the tools used by the 1st Sustainment Brigade central receiving and shipping point to manage and move cargo throughout Iraq.

Central receiving and shipping point (CRSP) operations provide checks and balances for managing mass cargo flowing into the Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) theater. On a daily basis, the 1st Sustainment Brigade CRSPs managed these operations for the brigade during its OIF 07–09 deployment.

Cargo has been moving faster and more efficiently into the Iraqi theater of operations since the brigade implemented a new Microsoft Access database that links the Victory Base Complex and Camp Taji CRSP databases with battalion- and brigade-level transportation movement release (TMR) databases. This integrated database, developed by personnel from the 168th Brigade Support Battalion and the 192d Quartermaster Company, laid the groundwork for improvements in the daily transportation management of the CRSPs.

TMR Database Management

Daily operations included a battalion-level review of all cargo in the CRSPs against the TMRs assigned to it. The brigade TMR manager imported all assigned battalion-level TMRs into the CRSP database. He ensured that the TMRs were assigned to the correct mode operator. (The mode operator is the battalion assigned to move the equipment.) The TMR manager then monitored the daily status for completion to ensure delivery of the cargo by the required delivery date (RDD) or no later than 9 days after the RDD.

The TMR database was implemented in October 2007, and by Februrary 2008, the 1 to 9 day past RDD rate had been reduced from 21 percent to 5 percent.

Movement Planning

Since most of the cargo that the brigade transported transited the CRSPs, managing the CRSPs was imperative to cargo visibility. Daily checks of assigned TMRs against the cargo in the CRSPs facilitated movement planning. Accurate entries in the CRSP databases ensured that the correct number of trucks was allocated to move cargo to its final destination. The CRSP personnel and mode operators doublechecked the items listed on a TMR against the cargo actually in the CRSPs. If discrepancies were found, they were fixed with the help of the 199th Movement Control Team (MCT) at Victory Base Complex or the 528th MCT at Camp Taji, which were colocated with the brigade and the CRSPs. The initiative to colocate the MCTs improved the flow of cargo. The MCTs were the honest brokers used to enforce load lists, fix TMR discrepancies, and provide visibility of incoming and outgoing cargo.

Daily Cargo Screening

The checklist above was a guide that the managers of the 1st Sustainment Brigade CRSPs used to accomplish the daily screening of the cargo. This checklist was essential in finding discrepancies and providing the brigade with a good snapshot of how the CRSPs and the battalion mode operators performed. The battalion mode operators had to meet two challenges: They had to deliver cargo before the RDD, and they had to keep the time a piece of cargo spent in the CRSPs as short as possible. Balancing these requirements was an art that ensured the earliest possible delivery time to the customer. Over the last months of their deployment, the 1st Sustainment Brigade and its battalions perfected this art.

The CRSP Scrub

The brigade CRSP manager ensured that entries in the CRSP databases were standardized for export and import to the TMR databases used by the battalions and the brigade. The 1st Sustainment Brigade conducted CRSP “scrubs” at least twice a week to doublecheck the accuracy of current onhand cargo, destinations, mode managers, and estimated ship dates (ESDs). The meeting also provided a forum for the brigade CRSP manager, the battalion transportation section, the MCTs, and the CRSPs’ staffs to discuss any new trends and developments. The brigade CRSP manager facilitated external coordination with the other brigade-level mode managers in Iraq.

Improved Practices, Improved Service

Knowing which piece of cargo was assigned to each mode manager helped to coordinate the movement of any cargo left at the CRSPs for over 10 days. After the implementation of the above management practices and the establishment of success metrics in December 2007, the CRSPs were able to reduce the percentage of 1st Sustainment Brigade cargo on hand longer than 10 days from over 10 percent to 1 percent. Not only was the backlog cleared, but the time that pieces of cargo spent at the CRSPs was also reduced. (See chart above.) In November 2007, the average time a piece of cargo assigned to the 1st Sustainment Brigade was in transit in the CRSP was more than 7 days by March 2008, the average time was only 2.4 days.

The CRSP should be recognized as an important node in the transportation system, one that requires daily supervision and implementation of management tools. Both 1st Sustainment Brigade CRSPs processed over 49,000 pieces of cargo over a 5-month period. Human error is found in any organization, and developing tactics, techniques, and procedures to counteract this tendency helped greatly in daily transportation management and made a positive impact on the support the 1st Sustainment Brigade provided to the warfighter.

Daily management also revealed negative trends, such as incorrect labeling of cargo and generic destination points of contact on TMRs. Recognizing these trends and addressing them to the correct agency was extremely important—especially at the VBC CRSP, which was often used as the dividing point for TMRs for cargo within the Iraqi theater of operations. Proper action taken on those negative trends set up the entire theater for success and reduced doublehandling of cargo and customer wait time for all supported units in Iraq.

Chief Warrant Officer (W–2) Nadine S. Johnson is the mobility officer and central receiving and shipping point manager for the 1st Sustainment Brigade. She holds an associate’s degree in general studies from Campbell University and is a graduate of the Warrant Officer Basic Course.