Micro-Electrical-Mechanical Systems Application to Logistics

By Yates, John | Army, May 2005 | Go to article overview

Micro-Electrical-Mechanical Systems Application to Logistics


Yates, John, Army


The U.S. Army must explore technological innovations to maximize overall war fighting effectiveness as it transforms from the Current Force to the Future Force and achieves joint and expeditionary capabilities. The Joint Requirements Oversight Council-approved focused logistics functional concept serves to guide Army logistics in its transformation actions.

Focused logistics provides rapid response, asset visibility and improved agility tailored to the sustainment of forces at strategic, operational and tactical levels.

New technology solutions are required to transform materiel management, distribution, transportation and warehousing operations to automate redistribution of assets to meet future operational demands. These future capabilities will require anticipatory logistics support with embedded diagnostic sensors to anticipate failures and initiate resupply or replacement activities to sustain mission readiness.

Micro-electrical-mechanical systems (MEMS) is a promising new technology that can help facilitate a new dimension of focused logistics support. Through the use of real-time sensor data, MEMS can improve situational awareness and asset visibility within a small and inexpensive form. MEMS technology uses modern electronics fabrication techniques with micro machining to provide advanced sensor and integrated control functionality on a silicon chip.

Through proof-of-concept projects, the Logistics Transformation Agency is bringing MEMS together with active radio frequency identification devices (RFID) to capture, record and communicate temperature, humidity, vibration, chemical signature and other environmental conditions.

When combined with the track and trace capability of active RFID, these devices can provide standoff asset visibility, self-reporting status communications and data storage functions to record, alert and provide immediate feedback to soldiers and logisticians on the condition of assets.

Overall goals of MEMS technology exploration include:

* Capitalizing on MEMS technology advances to enable proactive logistics support, improve decision making and support Army transformation.

* Providing timely and accurate information to soldiers and logisticians on the viability of assets using MEMS integrated sensor data collection, reporting and asset health monitoring.

* Developing an integrated framework and standard approach for collecting, reporting, controlling and monitoring asset health within a common logistics operating environment framework. …

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