By Satoshi Oka
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Japan District Public Affairs
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Japan District recently completed construction of a new Mechanized Materials Handling System (MMHS) as part of the Western Pacific Transportation Facility on Yokota Air Base, Japan. The MMHS, which supports the 730th Air Mobility Squadron, is one of only three fully-automated systems Department of Defense-wide (DOD), used to receive, house, sort, package, and ship cargo throughout the world.
Housed inside a 112,484 square foot, four-story, steel frame facility, the MMHS processes high priority cargo and unaccompanied baggage for all four services, and special DOD projects in the Pacific region.
“The MMHS is critical for processing and storing large amounts of bulky cargo accurately and efficiently,” said Ernie Weber, Air Terminal manager.
The system is comprised of two elevated transport vehicles, which resemble a robot arm, that sorts and stocks palettes into compartments for ease of shipping and temporary storage.
“Operations in the new facility began Feb. 17 and so far the loading time has been cut to one-third,” said Weber. “What normally would have taken four hours, now only takes one. With the amount of cargo we take care of, this is a big advantage,” he said.
Dean Labdon, MMHS maintenance supervisor, who oversees the day-to-day operations of the facility, said the new state-of-the-art system makes their jobs much more efficient.
“We have an Inventory Control System which allows us to view palettes through monitors so we can identify the shape and weight of a palette from multiple angles,” Labdon said. “We are a transient facility so we may have full capacity in our storage one day but empty the next day.”
Kenji Masuko, Yokota Resident Office project engineer and quality assurance representative with the Corps’ Japan District attributes the success of the project to the good partnership shared amongst the Corps, contractor, and the installation.