To support the RSAF’s logistics and supply operations, DSTA replaced old warehouses and warehousing systems with purpose-built warehouses. These new warehouses incorporate new technologies to enhance reliability, efficiency and survivability for the operational sustainability of materiel support to the RSAF in peacetime and war. 

An Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) was implemented to replace the manual search and retrieval of spares in the warehouse. The ASRS consists of five automatic stacker cranes to store and retrieve aircraft spares across five aisles, where there are 10 rows of racks approximately 12m high. The entire system is controlled by a material tracking system linked directly to the MINDEF Enterprise System which sends the demand requests for spares in real time, improving the turnaround time for spares delivery. 

The DSTA team enhanced the ASRS by enabling it to switch between different modes according to the number of operators available to run the system. Warehouse managers can thus adjust the manning level based on varying operating hours and scenarios. The ASRS can be accessed at two levels, one for storage and the other for retrieval. This allows items to be stored and retrieved concurrently, leading to increased efficiency. Both levels can be re-designated easily to perform storage or retrieval should the need arise.

The team also implemented Mobile Racking Systems (MRS) which are specialised storage units designed for pallet storage, offering increased capacity compared to traditional racks. Similar to the working principle of a document compactor, the MRS eliminates the need for a dedicated aisle between every shelving rack, releasing more floor space for storage.

For spares that require a higher throughput in a shorter turnaround time, the Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) system is employed instead of the MRS. The VNA system has fixed racks, with widths only 40% of a normal aisle. It uses specialised side-loading fork trucks to store and retrieve pallets. As the operator of the trucks moves up with the fork, direct manual picking can be done from the pallet instead of bringing the whole pallet down as in the case of the MRS.

With mechanisation and automation, the new purpose-built warehouses have enabled the RSAF to increase productivity and reduce human error in the storage and retrieval of goods. The team has also helped the RSAF to reap space and manpower savings through modern storage technologies. The ASRS and VNA systems provide 35% more storage capacity as compared to conventional storage systems. Overall, there is an estimated land savings of about 15%.

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