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Navy Version of Expedia Could Save DoD Millions 55

Nerval's Lobster writes "The U.S. Navy expects to save $20 million per year on its global logistics and transportation budget, thanks to technology that has been saving business travelers billions since 1996. The Navy is testing a system that consolidates information about freight and personnel travel schedules into a single database—the better to give individual decision-makers a choice of the quickest, cheapest options available using 'an Expedia-like' search capability, according to the Office of Naval Research, which developed the application. All that being said, the Transportation Exploitation Tool (TET) is a little more sophisticated than online-travel sites such as Expedia or Travelocity were in 1996: The system consolidates travel schedules and capacity reports for both military and civilian carriers to give logistics planners a choice of open spaces in ships, planes, trucks, trains or other means of travel, along with information about cost, estimated time of arrival and recommendations of the most efficient route. Previously, logistics planners trying to get an engine part to a Navy ship stranded in a foreign port, for example, might spend hours or days looking through separate databases to find a ship or plane able to carry the part that could deliver it within a limited window of time. 'This system is truly revolutionary,' Bob Smith, program manager at the Office of Naval Research (ONR), wrote in a statement announcing the system. 'TET uses advances in technology to provide outstanding optimization of available flights and ship routes, saving our logisticians enormous amounts of time—and that can literally mean saving lives.'"
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Navy Version of Expedia Could Save DoD Millions

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  • Bundling (Score:5, Funny)

    by bugs2squash ( 1132591 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @06:12PM (#44481355)
    Will they save more if they purchase a hotel and rental car along with delivering the munitions ?
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      Will they save more if they purchase a hotel and rental car along with delivering the munitions ?

      Will it really be cheaper to send troops from Texas to Bagdad with an 8 hour layover in the Falkland Islands?

  • The picture at the top of the article is a USAF KC-10 Extender cargo aircraft. Is the Navy going to include all the USAF airlift capacity in TET?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      yes. it's a joint logistics program.

    • Yes. This program, as best as I can tell, will include both civil carriers and Space-A aircraft. Which is problematic if anyone gets access to it who shouldn't, as it would reveal a stunning amount of information about our military's movements. KC-10 Extenders, C-17s, C-5 Galaxies, KC-135 Stratotankers, and others would be included if I'm not mistaken. Including, at times, VIP aircraft used by high-ranking officials if my military friends and their families have indicated accurately their experiences to

  • Not really. I think this is a really good idea.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @06:27PM (#44481473)

    ... outsource to COSCO.

  • Definitions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Monday August 05, 2013 @06:39PM (#44481541)

    "'This system is truly revolutionary,' Bob Smith, program manager at the Office of Naval Research (ONR), wrote"

    "Revolutionary". I don't think that word means what they think it means considering "thanks to technology that has been saving business travelers billions since 1996"

    Seems like it would be evolutionary at best.

    • They probably meant the meaning of revolution as a complete (360 degree) turn. [1] As in, the wheel has come full circle. So by coming back around to 20-year-old technology, they have completed one revolution.

      [1]: Wikipedia says so (

    • by hazem ( 472289 )

      Even if democracies are somewhat common for many countries, if people in a country overthrow a dictatorship and establish a democracy, is it not a revolution?

      I'm not sure that simply because some other group has a thing that another group getting something like that can't still be revolutionary.

      For the military logistics planners, this will certainly dramatically change how they do their work and what they're capable of doing.

      • If a government is overthrown, that's a revolution because it's a big, fast change. If a government slowly changes from a dictatorship to a democracy over many years, that's not a revolution, that's an evolutionary change (small changes over time). It doesn't matter if someone else has it first. Given that it's one more step of many based on technology almost twenty years old (which is a fairly long time for computer systems), it's an evolutionary advancement, not a revolutionary change.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Monday August 05, 2013 @06:51PM (#44481603)

    Airfares are a strange market, selling a particular segmented product, and trying to maximize the profit on it. Logistics optimization when you own the network, on the other hand, is a different, and well-studied problem. The closest analogy is probably to shipping: someone like Maersk has pretty good software optimizing their shipping routes and determining which containers should go on which ships, and which ships should take which routes to which ports.

  • Exploitation? wouldn't Transportation Integration Tool be better? TIT?
  • I have to invade Iran because my boss is making me. But our fleet really wants to occupy North Korea this summer.

    Thanks to TET, we saved enough money we were able to plan both invasions, and ended up with a slight surplus. Thanks TET!
  • It's 2013 and we're still having trouble with the traveling salesman^w warlord problem?

  • ... because I missed the "revolutionary" aspect of "putting all your data into one database." Or is it based on context? Maybe logistics and capacity handling are "revolutionary" to the Navy; meanwhile, FedEx and UPS are saying "Welcome to ten years ago!"

    • by Holi ( 250190 )

      Government's move slow, but maybe they have found a way to make even the travel agencies algorithms more efficient. Maybe based on their access to far more information then any one company (hey they all have to deal with the US at some point, and as we are learning if you deal with us we take everything) they have been able to more finely tune their systems.

  • I can't believe they don't do this already.
  • "to give individual decision-makers a choice of the quickest, cheapest options available" This seems to happen every few years.
  • ONR does not build or buy things for the Navy, ONR is an R&D funding agency which prototypes things it hopes the Navy will use. It's a civilian office with civilian metrics (publish papers in scientific journals and put out press releases). Sometimes you get very good people (or programs) there that manage to get things tested on ships.

    SPAWAR is the Navy sub-agency that manages and purchases all the software for the Navy. When they're talking about this, it will happen.

    This isn't a good system, but i

    • by Holi ( 250190 )

      The fact the Navy does it's R&D under civilian control is good. Its the same reason the President is the top of the chain of command but is not a member of the armed forces. It allows the creations to be filtered through a more moral viewpoint. And before you argue with me on that point, imagine a a world without that filter. Not everything put in place by congress is bad. It may not be efficient and it may cost more but we should not base all of our decisions on a cost analysis.

      • by RoboRay ( 735839 )
        Well, if you are going to take the position that the military is inherently immoral, you've already excluded yourself from any rational discussion.
      • I never meant to imply that R&D shouldn't be under civilian control! I agree with you 100% on that. SPAWAR is a largely civilian organization, and that's a good thing too. Often people use the word "Navy" to describe ONR, and I'm not sure that's appropriate at all, which is why I called it out.

        To clarify my comment on the "bad" system: you have an internal R&D team and a purchasing-and-support team with no meaningful collaboration between the two. Imagine being a developer and having to go throu

  • Ok the Expedia / etc comparison was stupid to bring into the comparison as there is very little comparison unless you consider people freight. But this is kind of awesome. They have developed a JIT freight system that is potentially accessible to the individual shipper that helps make for more efficient shipping. I wonder how much they borrowed from the private shippers like UPS and FedEx. But hey they have access to much more refined data about global shipments so I would guess they make the big boys of pr

    • by cusco ( 717999 )
      I wonder how much they borrowed from the private shippers

      Probably almost nothing. This is the Pentagon we're talking about, I'm surprised that they didn't make the system designers re-invent the airplane and the integrated circuit as part of the process. One of my coworkers ran an office for the Air Farce's travel organization, I'll have to ask his opinion about this program tomorrow. I doubt that he will be optimistic about its success.
      • by cusco ( 717999 )
        He says that this is exactly the same system that the Air Farce uses already, and have been using for several years.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to the military, folks: where our tech is either 20 years in the future or 20 years in the past.

    • The DOD is a very large organization. In the business world, 20 companies may make a product like this, and try to get people to use it. 18 will fail, 1 succeed, and 1 merely survive. In the DOD, someone comes up with a really neat idea, and creates a wonderful product. They go to standardize the use of it, and discover that there are entire parts of the DOD they never heard of, who already have a system, and do things completely differently. It is very hard to discover the entire scope of problems like thi
  • Hopefully this can scale to include the other branches....I'd hate to think of all the duplicate systems amongst all 4 services.
  • These words ending in "-illion" all sound too much alike. Let's try scientific notation. TFA says TET will save 2x10^7 dollars. The Navy budget is approximately 1.6x10^11 dollars. []

    So this savings is, roughly, 0.01% of the Navy budget. It's like a developer who makes $100K/year saving 10 bucks over the year. It's worth doing, but I wouldn't call it a windfall.

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