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Automated Armory slashes time in line

Jun. 30, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Rhino Technology's Automated Armory uses a weapons card, fingerprint scanner, bar codes and an alarm to reduce wait time and user error in issuing weapons.
Rhino Technology's Automated Armory uses a weapons card, fingerprint scanner, bar codes and an alarm to reduce wait time and user error in issuing weapons. (Hope Hodge/Staff)
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QUANTICO, VA. — A new bar-code system for cataloging weapons could eliminate the possibility of Marines being issued faulty weapons and pare down the time they spend in line at the armory.

The Automated Armory from Indiana-based Rhino Technology was one of the more popular items on display during the Expeditionary Logistics war game here June 17-21. The system allows bar codes on weapons to interact with Marines’ 10520 weapons custody cards through a computer system that keeps track of every draw and recover. Biometric authentication with a fingerprint scanner will ensure every service member leaves with the right weapon.

The simplicity of the system is one of its assets, said Matt Edwards, CEO and owner of Rhino Technology.

“We didn’t invent anything,” he said. “We used bar codes that are on the items, and the Marine and his identification, and connected the dots there,” Edwards said.

The system also comes equipped with colored warning lights and a siren that will blare if a Marine attempts to draw an unauthorized or inoperable weapon.

While the system’s ability to increase accuracy in tracking and issuing weapons may be its most valuable aspect, its ability to save time also is turning heads.

Under the current 1970s-era system, when “you send out a bunch of Marines to the rifle range, you’ve got to be there before the sun comes up. ... If it takes two hours to check out your weapons, you’re now getting up at 2 in the morning,” Edwards said.

Capt. Dave McGrath, operations officer for Marine Wing Support Squadron 274, out of Cherry Point, N.C., which participated in the war game, said he planned to ask for the system for his unit before the week was out.

“For all 530 of my Marines, to issue their weapons would probably take me two days,” McGrath said. “This can do it in an hour.”

Edwards said monthly inventory time, which can take three weeks, could be cut in half.

Two units are testing Automated Armory: 2nd Tanks Battalion and a combat logistics regiment in Afghanistan. Marine officials will then consider whether to add the system to the Marine Corps’ programs of record for further distribution. Edwards said pricing for Automated Armory starts at $30,000.

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