Safety, Speed, Efficiency…the First Time and Every Time

Safety, Speed, Efficiency…the First Time and Every Time
U.S. Air Force photo SSgt Patrick Harrower
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The ability to move critical assets via air is essential when speed and quantity are the keys to mission success.  This is true in response to national disasters, war fighting, rescue and humanitarian operations, or business ventures.  Configuring those assets in air transportable packets which are scheduled to arrive at the destination in the proper order for maximum effect and efficiency is the job for the Deployable Automated Cargo Measurement System (DACMS).

The DACMS is an automated, three-dimensional laser profiling and weigh-in-motion system resulting from the Air Force Battle Lab initiative in 2004.  This system enables the automatic measurement of length, width, height, axle weight, total weight and center of balance of vehicles or bulk cargo for aircraft loading.  DACMS accomplishes this through the use of one computer console, an in-ground or portable scales system, optional power sources, and the expertise of only two men.  The process is completed as the equipment is driven over the DACMS scales and all information is interfaced to the DoD Military Load Planning Systems.  The resulting cargo load information is attained within 10 seconds and provides the accurate load information necessary to configure the air mobility packets.

This process appears to be rather simple on its surface and not worthy of much fanfare.  However, it must be noted that this time-phased deployment list, if we may refer to it in its former life’s name, was and is the crux of most battle plans and the cause for great concern when contemplating war-fighting scenarios.  The “TIPHDL” drove manpower, aircraft, maintenance, crew duty day, budget numbers, and the dates for the onset of operations.  DACMS enables a decrease in some of those requirements, ensures greater accuracy, provides for efficient use of air assets, and can go to the front lines of operations to sustain deployments and expedite inter-theater movements.  The system is mobile, reliable, highly accurate and efficient, increasing readiness appreciably.

The entire DACMS system is transportable on one standard 463L pallet that will fit our airlift aircraft.  The manpower and time required to achieve full operational capability are two men and 25 minutes.  This means that DACMS can be used on any fairly flat surface such as a forward operating bare-base, airport aprons, roads, or loading docks/aerial port staging areas.  The transfer of data is real-time and accurate.  Safety is also increased because personnel are not required to crawl under vehicles to position the cargo scales. 

Loadmasters are no longer required to spend many hours manually calculating load weights and the center of balance to ensure the proper aircraft weight and balance for flight.  Many times, those loads were changed due to a shift in priorities that altered the load and thus the calculations had to be redone.  These last minute changes in priorities sometimes caused errors in identifying vehicles and the correct vehicle loads.  DACMS helps to eliminate such errors and also prevents subsequent vehicle overloads and damage.  The net result is that these time-consuming calculations and cargo substitutions are now replaced by immediate knowledge of the cargo specifics, validation through the load planning systems and re-load of the aircraft.  Efficiency, speed, and safety in delivering the correct load to the correct destination in the safest manner possible are given an automated assist, that is DACMS.

As the Administration and the Congress endeavor to equip the warfighter with the best technologies available, DACMS should be considered a top priority.

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