oversight

Military Services Should Uniformly Adopt Improved Packaging Techniques

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-06-08.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                          DOCUMENT RESUME
02437 - [A1712686]

([ilitary Services Should Uniformly Adopt Improved Packaging
Techniques]. LCD-77-216; B-1570i76. June 8, 1977. 15 pp. + 2
appendices (3 pp.).
Report to Secretary, Department of Defense; by Robert G.
Rothwell (for Fred J. Shafer, Director, Logistics and
Communications Div.).
Issue Area: Facilities and Material Management: Federal
    Transportation of Things (704).
Contact: Logistics and Communications Div.
Budget Function: National Defense: Department of Defense -
    Military (except procurement f, ccttracts) (051).
Organization Concerned: Department of tLe9 Navy; DepaErtment of
    the Army; Department of the Air Force; Department of
    Def'nse.
Congressional Relevance: House Committee on Armed Services;
    Senate Committee oi Armed Services.

         Unlike the Air Force, the Arluy and Navy have been slow
in accepting two innovative packaging methods, roam-in-place ani
fast packs, and therefore have lost potential savings.
Findings/Conclusions: Foam packaging affords savings in labor,
materials, reusability, transportation, and reduced shtipping
damage when compared with conventional packaging. Experience at
the San Antonio Air Force Logistics Center indicated that items
packaged with foam resulted ir overall sav-.ngs in labor and
material of about 40%. The San Antonio Center also reported that
the introduction of fast packs in packaging resulted in
increased production, about a 62% savings in material, and a 65%
savings in labor, and a 65% reduction in paperwork. The lack of
Department of Defense guidelines for affectively introducing the
new technology has resulted in the wile variation of its
acceptance by the military serv 4 ces. Recommendations- The
Department of Def-'se should develop a program to insure that
the military services adopt and use these methods of packaging
and any future improved technology to the greatest extent
possible. The plan should include identification of candidate
items for packaging, training for foam equipment operators,
information exchange among the services, and an educational
program to promote acceptance at command levels. (DJM)
      UNITED STATES
'-/   GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE




      Military Services Should
      Uniformly Adopt Improved
      Packaging Techniques
      Department of Defense

      The Air Force has realized significant savings
      by using two innovative packaging methods:
      foam-in-place and fast packs. However, the
      Army and Navy have been slow in accepting
      and applying these new techniques, and there-
      fore have lost potential savings. The Depart-
      ment of Defense should develop a program
      whereby the military services uniformly adopt
      and use these and future packaging innova-
      tions.




       LCD-77-216                                      JiUNE 8, 1977
                               UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE
                                       WASHINGTON, D.C.   20548


LOGISTICS AND COMMUNICATIONS
           DIVISION




   B-157476



   The Honorable
   The Secretary of Defense

   Dear Mr. Secretary:
        In our May 18, 1976, report (B-157476), we recommended
   that tht military services shLre the benefits realized and
   the pitfalls encountered in using new packaging technology.
   Your response on August 5, 1976, indicated that actions were
   being taken on our recommendations, including the establishment
   of a Department of Defense (DOD) Storage and Warehousing Polircy
   Committee which would, among other things, monitor the adequacy
   and effectiveness of DOD packaging policies.
        We have continued to study the military services' man-
   agement and control of reusable packaging containers, and
   we have observed problems with the use of two new techniques--
   foam-in-place and fast packs--which warrant your attention
   and special consideration by the Storage and Warehousing
   Policy Committee.
        The lack of DOD guidance for effectively introducing new
   packaging technology has resulted in wide variations within
   the services.  For example, the Air Force has realized consid-
   erable savings by emphasizing the use of foam-in-place and
   fast packs to assure maximum standardization and minimum over-
   all packaging costs for selected supply items. On the other
   hand, the Army and Navy have been slow in accepting and apply-
   ing the new technology to their packaging programs. As a re-
   sult, they have experienced only moderate success with these
   new packaging methods, and potential savings have not been
   realized.

        Our observations are based on information obtained at
   DOD; Air Force; Army and Navy headquarters; selected Army
   commodity and Navy systems commands; the Air Force's San An-
   tonio Air Logistics Center (ALC); several Army depots; and
B-157476



several Navy field activities, including two Naval Air Rework
facilities, several Naval Supply Centers, and Naval Air Sta-
tions. We concentrated on Naval air activities because of
the success the Air Force has had in applying foam-in-place
and fast packs to aviation components. We also reviewed per-
tinent DOD and military service policies, procedures, regu-
lations, and instructions.

     Management responsibility for packaging is described in
appendix I.

BACKGROUND

     Foam-in-place and fast pack techniques may be de cribed
as follows:

     -- Foam-in-place is a packaging process where mixed
        chemicals are dispensed into an exterior carton
        or plywood container. The chemicals expand and
        solidify to provide cushioning, blocking, and
        bracing for the item being packaged.

     -- Fast packs are a series of reusable, standardized,
        cushioned containers. Basically, they consist of
        various sizes of cartons, prefitted with polyurethane
        foam inserts leaving hollow centers where items may
        be inserted for protection.

     Both techniques offer advantages over more conventional
packaging methods when used to package repairable items. For
example, foam-in-place packages open easily and may be reused
to pack similar items for return shipment and/or storage. The
process involves a lightweight polyurethane foam which is eas-
ily and quickly applied and easily removed. Tests and experi-
ence have demonstrated that foam-in-place is a safe and reli-
able packaging method. Moreover, savings result in labor,
materials, transportation, and reduced shipping damage when
compared with the use of conventional wooden boxes and mtal
drums.

     Fast packs also offer definite advantages over conven-
tional packaging techniques. By using fast packs, packaging
departments can ship thousands of different items--within
allowable size, weight, and fragility limits--in just a few
types and sizes of fast packs. Their reusability, together
with the minimal labor required to insert and remove items,
makes fast packs the cheapest type of packaging for many
items--especially those having repair and return cycles.

                              2
B-157476

                   T
THE ARMY AND NAVY M ST IMPROVE
THEIR POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR
FOAM-IN-PLACE PACKAGING TECHNIQUE

     The Air Force has recognized the advantages of foam-in-
place packaging and is widely using the technique.     Although
                                 foam-in-place   in  some   areas,
both the Army and Navy are using
                                       training,  lack   of  cen-
their programs suffer from inadequate
                                      the part of   some  com-
tralized guidance, and reluctance on
mands to accept foam-in-place packaging.

     The Air Force started experimenting with foam-in-place
as a packaging method in 1969.   By July 1976, over 4,000 dif-
                                                         is
ferent supply items were packaged by that process which
now used at each of the five Air Force logistics  centers--
Ogden, Oklahoma City, Sacramento, San Antonio, and Warner
Robins.   It is also being introduced for use at base level
activities.

     The Air Force Packaging Evaluation Agency reports that
foam packaging has excellent reusability and affords signi-
ficant savings in labo , materials, and improved item pro-
tection.   Experience at the San Antonio ALC confirms this
position.   San Antonio found that items packaged with foam
                                                       about
reculted in overall savings in labor and material of
              For fiscal year 1975, San Antonio reported  sav-
40 percent.
ings of about $200,000.   Another ALC performed a cost  analy-
sis for  five randomly selected high-volume items and found
                                                           to
that the average cost per package was reduced from $4.72
S2.35 when conventional packaging was replaced  by foam-in-
place packaging.   The annual savings reported on just these
 five items was $147,000.
                                                          suc-
      Several factors have contributed to the Air Force's
 rcss with foam packaging,   including

      -- attention at the command level,

      -- acceptance of the new technology by packaging
         officials, and

      -- extensive employee training in the operation and
         maintenance of the foam-dispensing machines.
                                                    packer must
 A foam-dispensing equipment operator/preservation hours
        minimum of 6 months training including 20        of
 have a
                                                       operators
 classroom instruction. As a result of the training,
 can make on-the-spot repairs and thus avoid prolonged periods
 of time when equipment is inoperable.
                                  3
B-1574 7 6


Problems in Nsvy
 joam packajing2rogam

     The Navy did not authorize foam-in-place packaging
aboard ships until July 1976.   At the time of our study, foam-
dispensing equipment was installed  at only a tew Naval shore
activities and was on order for  several others.

     We visited a few of these shore activities and found that
the number of items packaged with the foam technique varied
widely.  Likewise, there was wide variance in the use of the
foam at other Naval activities packaging similar items.   For
example, the Norfolk Naval Air Station in Virginia was using
foam to package about 500 items a month, while the Oceana
Naval Air Station in Virginia used the process to package
some 2,200 items each month.  This variation, at installation:
with comparable type and volume of activities, indicate. a
lack of visibility and centralized direction over foam ,pacK-
aging operations.  The Navy had not identified items which
were candidates for foam packaging.   Installations using the
process apparently were not communicating and exchanging data
on their fcm packaging programs.

      We also found evidence indicating that the Navy Supply
Systems Command had not been effective in introducing foam
packaginig systemwide. Officials at the Naval Air ReworK
Facility     in Norfolk said   they had no   plans to use   fodm-in-
place packaging because their engineers considered the pro-
cess unacceptable.  This policy is inconsistent with that of
other comparable Naval activities and indicates a need for
more centralized education and training.

     Adequately trained personnel are essential in the pack-
aging process. This need becomes even more critical when new
packaging equipment (such as foam-in-place) is introduced. The
nature of the process makes it easy to damage or destroy items
being foamed if specific procedures are not properly followed.
To illustrate, the Army shipped 365 gas cylinders, foamed in
a seavan container, to Japan.  CrowDars and picks were required
to remove the cylinders from the van. Also, at the Red River
Army Depot, 30 generators packaged for overseas shipment had
extensive corrosive damage caused by improper use of foam-in-
place.

     Although the Navy requires that equipment suppliers pro-
vide some on-the-job training on delivering foam-in-place
equipment, no minimum training requirements have been estab-
lishLd for equipment operators.  Unless Navy operators have
training similar to that of Air Force operators, the Navy

                                    4
 B-157476



 increases the risk of damage to both the foam-in-place
 equipment and the items being packaged.

 Army should improve and expand    its
 use of toam packaging

     We visited two Army commodity commands and found
                                                       that the
use of foam as a packaging method varied widely.
                                                   The Tank-
Automotive Readiness Material Command (TARCOM)
                                                had encouraged
its eepots to use foam but favored a procedure
                                                which may not
be cost effective.  In contrast, the Aviation Systems Command
(AVSCOM) had not determined that foam-in-place
                                                packaging
should be used for any of the items it manages.

     TARCOM application of foam
     packaging questionable

     TARCOM has specified the use of foam-in-place
of its packaging data sheets and is revising others in several
                                                      to read
the same.  Generally, ITARCOM favors encapsulation, a foam-in-
place technique whereby the items or component
                                                 is completely
shrouded or encased in foam.   Methods for opening these foam
packs include (1) pulling a tear wire in the foam
                                                    or ,2) saw-
ing part way through the carton and foam and prying
halves apart.                                         the two
               Such methods severely limit the reusability of
the foam pack.  We believe that limited reusability and prob-
lems resulting from the process more than offset
                                                   any claimed
advantages of the encapsulation technique.

      At the Red River Army Depot, which packages i:any
 items, encapsulation was the only foaming technioue    TARCOM
                                                      being
used.   Depot officials were very critical of the process
                                                            and
said that the depot does not use foam-in-place to
                                                   any great
extent.   Corrosion resulting from the use of foam packaging
was the most common complaint.   We were told that items cor-
roded in the pack because the foam was soaking
                                                up moisture
after the item was packaged, or condensation formed
                                                     when the
hot foam strouded cold metal.   Other problems pointed out by
depot officials were difficulty in opening the
                                                packs and
limited reusability.

     A military handbook on foam, dated January 1973,
                                                       states
that full encapsulation is best for hardware that
stored indefinitely without periodic inspection   will  be
                                                or that is
subject to severe environmental conditions.
                                             However, a




                               5
B-157476



recent Air Force report 1/ shows that items packaged with a
split-pack technique resist corrosion and Yeceive excellent
physical protection. In the split-pack, the top a id bottom
halves of foam are separated by plastic film. (See app. II.)
It !s easy to open and the container can be reused.   The re-
port discusses an outdoor environmental test of aircraft
external fuel tank3 packaged in polyurethane foam. The tanks
were placed on a test site near the Gulf of Mexico--a severe
environment of salt air, intense sun, heavy rain, and high
winds. After 20 mcnths the foam packs were opened and the
tanks were found to be in excellent condition.

     We believe that a foam-pack which has reusability and
does not induce corrosion would be more acceptable to depot
packaging specialists.

     AVSCOM passive on foam use
     Unlike TARCOM, AVSCOM has not specified foam-in-place
packaging for any of the items it manages. An AVSCOM packag-
ing official stated that it is not resisting the use of foam,
but considers foam packs to be one-trip containers.
     We meL with AVSCOM packaging officials and showed them
a film outl4nina various foam packaging techniques success-
fully used by the Air Force.  The film emphasized the multi-
trip life of foam-packs.

     In discussions following the film presentation, reactions
of AVSCOM officials varied on the use or foam as a packaging
method.  However, it was clear that most individuals present
were not familiar with foam packaging and the advantages
offered by the new technique.

     TARCOM and AVSCOM manage thousands of items which are
candidates for the foam-in-place process. As discussed
earlier, the Air Force has found that substituting foam-in-
place for conventional packaging can result in savings. We
believe that the U.S. Army Materiel Development and Readiness
Command (DARCOM) should direct all of jcs subordinate commands
to review their packaging programs and use foam-in-place to
the maximum extent possible.


1/"Envir)nmental Study of External Aircraft Fuel Tanks Stored
  in Rigid Polyurethane Foam," Air Force Packaging Evaluation
  Agency Project No. 72-7A-12-1, Dec. 1975.


                              6
 B-157476


 Services' comments and our evaluation

      We discussed our findings and observations with the
                                                           Navy
Supply Systems Command and DARCOM. Naval officials
                                                      said they
heartily endorse foam-in-place and encourage its use
and shore stations.                                    on ships
                      They stated that $100,000 would be spent
in fiscal year 1977 and another $100,000 in fiscal year
                                                          1978
to purchase 80 foam units for use aboard ships.   The officials
believe that foam-in-place aboard ships--especially
                                                     aircraft
carriers--will alleviate the serious problem of damage
                                                         to com-
ponents while being transported.   Currently, they said, in-
transit damage is more severe than th'e failures which
                                                        cause
items to be removed for repairs.

     Naval cfficials attribute~] delays in foam use to (1)
lems in funding equipment purchases after                   prob-
                                           foam-in-place was
authorizea for shore stations in 1974 and (2) long and
                                                        strin-
gent testing of the process which was required by several
                                                            Navy
commands before it could be certified for use aboard
                                                      ship.
     Concerning shore station use, we observed that at least
one Naval Air Rework Facility is still resisting the
                                                      use of
foam, and other stations ar' making only limited use
We believe that the testing and certification process of  it.
                                                       could
have been shortened if DOD had introduced and fostered
                                                         foam
use throughout the services.

     Although DARCOM officials acknowledged that the Army
needs to increase its use of foam, they felt that our
                                                       evalua-
tion of the Army was too severe.  They objected oecause the
Army depots had been authorized to use foam-in-place
                                                      and the
required equipment had been made available to them.

     During our visits to depots, however, we discovered that
foam equipment often sat unused.  Also, the commodity commands
 hich provide packaging instructions had generally not
                                                       speci-
fied that items could or should be packaged in foam.

     DARCOM officials could not explain why TARCOM favored,
and depots practicea, total encapsulation in foam rather
                                                         than
the preferred split-pack method.  They said that Army's Pack-
aging and Containerization Center knew how to use foam
                                                       and
sent teams out to assist the depots.

     We noted, however, that visits from the Center staff were
generally made upon request.  Based on our observations, depot
personnel may not be interested enough in foam packaging
                                                         to
request assistance.  In April 1977 one of our staff members
attended a packaging seminar at Tooele Army Depot, where
                                                         the

                              7
B-157476


use of foam-in-place was demonstrated.   The method used?
I'otal encapsulation!

GREATER USE OF FAST PACKS
WILL REDUCE PACKAGING COSTS AND
IMPROVE PACKAGING EFFICIENCY

     As was the case with foam packaging, the Air Force is
the services' primary user of tast packs.  The Air Force has
demonstrated the reusability and economy of the fast pack and
has introduced thousands of the contai;ers into its supply
system. The Army and Navy have oeen ';low in accepting fast
packs and are not taking advantage of 'he savings offered by
the new technique.

Air Force groves
fast packs to be cost effective

     In 1965, the San Antonio AIC developed and implemented a
packaging standardization program which replaced conventional
methods with fast packs.  Conventional methods involve hand-
scribing instructions from military specifications, setting
up a tibeiboard container, cutting cushioning and   !-appingmate-
rials from bulk stocks, wrapping and inserting an item in the
carton, and filling the carton with additional cushioning ma-
terial.  These methods are rather slow, require repetitive
paperwork, and provide little or no standardization of packag-
ing techniques and materials.  Under these pircedures, various
items (even though similar in size and weight) could require
different packaging--i.e., different sizes/types of Wraps and
barrier materials, cushioning pads, and exterior containers.

     After introducing fast packs in its packaging operations,
the San Antonio ALe reported increased production, substantial
savings in labor and materials, and a 65-percent reduction in
paperwork.  In addition, the Air Force expected to get five
trips from each reusable fast pack instead of a single trip
which is the expected life of a fiberboard box.   Initially,
the fast pack program at San Antonio was applicable to small
electronic and electrical items, i.e., items weighing 15 pounds
or less and having a volume under 1.5 cubic feet.   Now, accord-
ing to ALC officials, items weighing as much as 50 pounds may
be considered for fast packs.  By July 19/6 the Air Force had
identified over 40,000 items suitable for fast pack shipment.

     The Air Force made many individual cost analyses to deter-
mine the financial advantages of reusable fast packs over non-
standard and nonreusable packaging.  In one such analysis the
Air Force found that for 10 items, the average material and

                              '3
B-157476

labor packaging costs before switching to fast packs were
$2.01 and $1.89 respectively. After converting to fast packs
the average costs were $0.77 and $0.66, or a 62-percent savings
in material and a 65-percent savings in labor. What makes the
analysis even more significant is that the Air Force now esti-
mates that fast packs may be used for seven trips instead of
the expected five, making them even more cost effective.

     One measure of the various uses of fast packs is shown
in the following statistics. During fiscal year 1976, the
General Services Administration (GSA) issued some 341,128
fast pack units to the three service branches. Air Force
requisitions accounted for 94.7 percent of the total.
                                     Fast packs issued
     Military service              durino fiscal year 1976

           Air Force                       323,035
           Navy                              9,708
           Army                              8,385

               Total                       341,128

     The various typ~es of reusable fast packs are listed in
appendix G of Military Standard 794. This appendix gives in-
formation necessary to select a fast pack for a given item,
and it can apply to DOD packaging activities, contractors,
subcontractors, or vendors. However, as of July 1976 the
appendix was binding only on the Air Force.

Navy use of fast packs was
 limited and irreg!ular

     The Navy's use of fast packs was limited and varied con-
siderably even among similar activities. It delegated primary
responsibility for packaging to its systems commands. However,
more command interest in fast packs is needed; use of fast
packs varied greatly within individual commands; and some ac-
tivities used more expensive substitutes.

     We visited two Naval Air Rework Facilities (NARF), six
Naval Air Stations, and five Naval Supply activities, all with
extensive packaging operations. We found only limited use of
fast packs.

     Navy procedures inhibit
     use of fa st packs

     Each Navy aviation component has a 13-digit code devel-
oped by the Aviation Supply Office (ASO) that specifies how an

                               9
B-157476


item is to be packaged. In part, this code specifies the
type and vclume of cushioning to be used in packaging the
item. The San Diego NARF officials said that they follow
the codes closely in their packaging operations. They also
noted that the codes do not specify use of fast packs.
     Despite the limits imposed by the ASO codes, local pack-
aging personnel still have some flexibility. This is partic-
ularly true for fast packs. For example, if the ASO code for
a particular item allows materials similar to those in a fast
pack, then the NARFs can use the fast pack.

     Potential exists for greater use of fast
       _c-_s at Navy NARFs
      Officials at the San Diego NARF estimated that about
half, or 25,000, of the items they package go into one-trip
fiberboard boxes. These cartons, which they construct, are
made under the same specifications and out of the same fiber-
board as the fast packs; however, the officials did not know
how many components could be packaged in fast packs. A com-
t.arison of costs of some fiberboard boxes constructed by the
San Diego NARF with fast packs available from GSA follows:
                        NARF's cost           Cost to purchase
                       to manufacture         multitrip fast
Container size    one-trip cartons (note a)   pack (from GSA)

 6" x 6" x 10"               $0.93                  $0.87
12" x 12" x 16"               3.05                   3.30

a/Provides only a fiberboard shell; excluues costs of labor and
  any foam or other materials necessary to protect the item.

     We examined the packaging procedures for 35 line items se-
lected on the basis of their value and high turnover. An
ASO official said that 13 of these items could be packaged in
fast packs. The ASO packaging codes for 7 of these 13 did
not specify a particular container. For example, the code for
one of the items stated that any suitable container could be
used. We talked with a responsible official of the San Diego
NARF about this problem; he concluded that fast pauks could
be used to package some of the remaining 22 items.
     The NARF had an onhand inventory of over 600 of these
items in storage, ready for issue. We observed that most
were contained in metal drums, which are more expensive and
add appreciably to shipping weight. The remainder were in
fiberboard boxes. NARF officials noted that drums may have
                              10
B-157476


been used because the packager did not interpret the ASO code
as calling for use of a fast pack.
     We toured the NARF packaging operations and, although of-
ficials said that fast packs were used for some items, we did
not see any being used, nor did we see any items being received
in fast packs. However, there were numerous repairable items
being packaged which appeared suitable for fast packs. Many
of the items being received were either without packaging
or poorly packaged.
     Naval instructions should recognize
     fast_Eacksas shlip2in9 containers
     At Miramar Naval Air Station, fast packs were used only
when the component was to be shipped together with several
other packages in a larger and heavier fiberboard container.
According to supply officials at the air station, instruc-
tions initially authorizing the use of fast packs stated that
fast packs could not be used without enclosing them in a more
substantial container. However, officials could not give
further details.

     If such a directive is still in force, we question its
validity since the Air Force routinely uses fast packs as ex-
terior containers.  In fact, many Air Force packaging orders
specify fast packs as the only shipping container.
     The Navy needs to identify
     te-ms-which are and could be
     packai_ Inn East packs
     Regarding the Navy's ability to expand its utilization
of fast packs, neither ASO, which is under the Naval Air
Systems Command, nor the Naval Electronics Command were able
to provide the potential universe of items suitaole for ship-
ment in fast packs without extensive and lengthy computer and
manual research. Also, they could not provide a list of line
items which were being shipped ,r were authorized to be shipped
in fast packs.
     The Navy can reduce packaging
     costs by having lts acEtvities
     purcEhase ast ac-s frrom GSA

     The San Diego Naval Station Supply Center Annex was using
locally procured containers similar to fast packs that were
available through GSA at considerably lower prices.   For example,
a locally procured 12" x 12" x 12" container costs $7.50 but
GSA's 12" x 12" x 14" fast pack costs only $3.30.   Officials

                             11
B-157476



at the activity said they were not familiar enough with the
fast packs to compare other important characteristics and
that any such evaluation would have to be made by a higher
authority.

      If the Navy is to introduce new packaging technology
in its logistics systems, it must have a method for easily
identifying candidates for the technology. When new packag-
ing technology is successful, the Navy should identify those
items being packaged so this information can be shared with
other services. Since all the military services are spending
funds to package items, reductions in the time necessary to
introduce new packaging technology will reduce DOD packaging
costs.

     Although some activities are using fast packs, the
Navy can expand fast pack use. Some present Navy practices
limiting their use are

     -- restrictions against using fast packs as shipping
        containers,

     -- inability to identify fast pack candidates, and

     -- use of packaging codes which do not specify fast
        packs.
In addition, the Navy is spending funds to buy containers
which are similar to fast packs but more expensive. The Navy
should revise its regulations, instructions, and policies so
that fast packs are used when they offer savings over present
packaging methods.

The Army can reduce packaging
costs by expanding fast pack use
     The Army's Packaging, Storage, and Containerization Cen-
ter studied the use of fast packs by the Air Force to deter-
mine potential use by the Army. The Center's study was
limited to items weighing less than 15 pounds with dimensions
no greater than 12 inches; i.e., items usually shipped via
parcel post by the Army. In its July 1975 report, the Center
concluded that the Army's present methods for shipping general
supplies were less expensive than the Air Force's fast pack
system. However, the report recommended the use of fast packs
for repair and return programs; particularly for those where
nonexpendable items are returned to a depot maintenance
facility.

                             12
 B-157476

     Despite this recommendation and the Air Force's reported
successes with fast packs, neither the Army depots nor any
                                                           of
the overseas Army activities we visited were using fast packs.
Further, packaging officials at the two commodity commands con-
tacted had not performed studies to explore the advantages
                                                           of
fast packs.

     One factor, which may be seriously affecting the Army's
limited use of fast packs, is that the Army has not considered
the expected "liit" of a fast pack container when evaluating
total packaging costs.  Officials at the Army's Packaging
Center told us that the Army considers the life of a fast pack
to be one trip, even though Air Force and Navy experience in-
dicates that three to seven trips are more likely.

     Considering the savings afforded by fast packs through
multitrip use and reduced labor costs, the Army should further
explore the potential for using fast packs.  In view of the
thousands of repairable items in the Army's repair/return pro-
grams, opportunities may be available for savings comparable
to those realized by the Air Force.

Services' comments

     Navy Supply Systems Command officials agreed that fast
packs afford potential savings in packaging repairable items,
and that criteria need to be developed for identifying items
for fast pack use.

     DARCOM officials acknowledged that fast pac. use had been
impeded by the Army's concerted emphasis on commercial type
packaging 1/ for expendable items.  They said that the Pack-
aging and Containerization Center is making a cost comparison
study between fast packs and conventional packaging methods.
The studs will include a test using 10,000 fast p cks (more
than the entire Army used in 1976) to determine the reusabil-
ity of fast packs.  If a favorable "trip life" can be attained
by the Army, much greater use will be made of the fast packs.

CONCLUSIONS

     Use of both foam-in-place and fast packs varies wideiy
among and even within the military services.  The Air Force has
concluded that the use of fuam-in-place and fast packs offers
considerable savings when compared with conventional packaging


1/Recommended in our report, "Savings Attainable by Revising
  Packaging In The Department of Defense," B-157476, May 21,
  1973.

                             13
B-157476



practices. The Army and Navy, on the other hand, have not,
to any large extent, promoted or used these new packaging
techniques.

     We believe, therefore, that each military service should
maximize use of these new, innovative packaging methods. The
problems discussed in this report stress the need for DOD to
establish a more effective method of introducing new packaging
technology.
RECOMMENDATIONS

     We recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct the
Storage and Warehousing Policy Committee to develop a program
to insure that the services adopt and use foam-in-place, fast
packs, and any future improved technology to the greatest ex-
tent possible.

     The Policy Committee shot J consider the following needs
in developing a plan of action:

     -- Criteria for identifying items which are candidates
        for packaging by foam-in-place, fast packs, or any
        other innovative method.
     -- Minimum training requirements for foam equipment
        operators.

     --An exchange of detailed information among and within
       the sirvices--highlighting achievements and problems--
       when packaging technology advances have been applied
       by one or more of the services to common items.

     --An educational program highlighting the advantages of
       the new packaging technology to promote its acceptance
       at the various command levels, noting that activities
       which receive packaged items have opportunities to
       reuse the containers.

     Once a program is developed, the Joint Logistics Commanders
could be given responsibility for implementing it; or the serv-
ice which successfully develops a packaging method could act
as lead service in fostering its use by the other services.

     As you know, section 235 of the Legislative Reorganization
Act of 1970 requires the head of a Federal agency to submit a
written statement on actions taken on our recommenlations to the
Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the Hcuse Committee

                             14
B-1574'



on Government Operations not later than 60 days after the date
of the report and to the House and Senate Committees on Appro-
priations with the agency's first request for appropriations
made more than 60 days after the date of the report.


     We are sending copies of this report to the Director,
Office of Management and Budget; the Chairmen, Senate and
House Committees on Appropriations and Armed Services; the
Chairman, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs; the
Chairman, House Committee on Government Operations; nod the
Secretaries of the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy.

                               Sincerely yours,



                           A   Fred J. Shafer
                               Director




                               15
APPENDIX I                                          APPENDIX I




             MANAGEMENT RESPuNSIBLE FOR PACKAGING
                          WITHIN DOD

     DOD has established a Joint Technical Coordinating Group
under the Joint Logistics Commanders to manage military pack-
aging needs. The Coordinating Group supports DOD's Storage
and Warehousing Policy Committee under the Assistant Secretary
of Defense (Installations and Logistics).

     DARCOM has overall responsibility for managing Army mate-
rial, including packaging. However, DARCOM has virtually no
packaging headquarters staff. Instead, each of DARCOM's five
subordinate commodity commands decides the type of container
and packaging protection that will be used for the items it
manages. DARCOM also directs the Packaging, Storage, and Con-
tainerization Center at Tobyhanna Army Depot, which performs
the technical functions for general supplies packaging.

     The Navy Supply Systems Command is the Navy's packaging
coordinator/manager, and it develops packaging policy. Each
Navy systems command iE responsible for packaging its assigned
items. The Naval Air Systems Command has delegated some of
its packaging responsibilities to the Aviation Supply Office
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
     The packaging policy for the Air Force is established by
Air Force Headquarters. Responsibility for implementing pol-
icy is divided between two commands--the Air Force Logistics
Command and the Air Force Systems Command.




                              1
APPENDIX II                                                                              APPENDIX II

                                                  FOAM - IN-PLACE
                                            INVERTED SPLIT PACK

                                             FOAMING PROCESS




                                                                    O


A block (or blocks) (I) of previously used                 A sheet of polyethylene filhn is draped over
rigid foam as needed is cut antl placed in tile            the item. Tile polyethylene film must he
center of the containerl hotton) or in tile                (I) shaped closely to the itemI and the con-
proper position to support the item. The                   tainer sides and (2) taped in place lo support
wrapped item (2) is pla,.ed upon the block                 the foanm.
(or blocks).




The fOamo mix is put into the cavity formied               When the expanding foam reaches the c(,n-
by the polyethylene sheet.                                 tainer top, the polyethylene is folded in-
                                                           ward, the box flaps closed and taped.




 I Usually a fiberboard carton.


                                                      2
APPENDIX II                                                                           APPENDIX II




          11                                              11




 The container is inverted, the flaps opened          The foam supports (I) can then he placed
 and the foam supports removed. Another               into the cavity and sufficient foam mix is
 sheet of polyethylene film (1) is inserted           added to fill the container.
 to separate top and bottom foam.




                                                               '1u', hahles o(t](,l
                                                                                 ,
                                                               separatedl by poy-
                                                               C'tIllYlvh Jil.




                                      Again. when the foam has reached the con-
                                      tainer top, the polyethylene film is folded
                                      inward and the box flaps closed. The clon-
                                      tainer flaps are scaled with tape and the
                                      container is marked for shipment.




                                                  3