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What is the aim of the pilot?

To prove the concept, for soldiers, sailors and airmen not deployed on operations, to order selected clothing items in the DC IPT catalogue from an internet terminal and have it delivered to an address of their choice in order to improve access to the clothing supply system and improve the speed of delivery to the end user.
Which units are involved?

The users identified for the pilot are:

* HQ 43 Wessex Bde and Bulford Garrison Support Unit (and supported units).
* ATR(B) Bassingbourn, following selected companies and permanent staff through to:
o 3 RSME
o RAC Centre

These have been selected as they represent the different types of unit in the Army. Overall about 2500 members of the Army will be involved.
Which items of clothing are in the pilot?

The pilot catalogue includes

* CS95 clothing (including socks, gloves and fleece).
* CAB and Safety Boots.
* Wet weather suits.
* Norwegian shirts and T-shirts.
* Coveralls.
* Berets etc and badges.
* Full range of food handling clothing (including aprons, chef's jackets, hats, shirts, trousers and boots).

The CS95 is the uniform that most soldiers wear most of the time when not on operations, and it was chosen to give the highest turn-over in the pilot. The food handling clothing has been included to test the system's ability to provide catalogue items based upon individual role.

What is the roll out plan for the pilot?

The roll out plan is not yet finalized but will be available here on ArmyNET when it has been agreed. The project team is working to a target for the pilot of 31st Mar 08.

How will the system work?

Each user will have access to the system through ArmyNET using their normal log-in. Before ordering clothing items the user will be required to enter their size measurements, so that the system can recommend which sizes to order. The system shows the user what they are entitled to order based upon their role and function so that each user gets a personalized catalogue. Each user will also be allocated a set number of points based upon their role and function which can be used to obtain clothing, where each clothing item has a points value. The user can then order clothing items that they need to replace with their points and can state what address they want it delivered to. The order should be delivered within 4 working days. There will be a helpdesk you can phone which will help with any queries or problems.

Will I still be able to go to the QM stores for items?

For the items within the pilot, users should not go to QM stores. The project needs to get as much learning and data as possible from the pilot and how the system is performing, therefore we need to ensure the on-line system is used as much as possible and not by-passed. For clothing items that are not in the pilot you should still go to your QM.
Why does the on-line catalogue need size measurements?

The catalogue uses the serviceman's or servicewoman's measurements to recommend the best-fitting size of the uniform item. While most people will simply order the same size as the garment they are replacing, sometimes the person's measurements change, and sometimes the uniform they have may not be the best fit.

Why is the pilot introducing payment by credit card?

There are limits to the entitlement to free replacement items. Under the current system, in certain circumstances service personnel have the cost of some items taken from their pay at source. An on-line system allows us to introduce payment by debit or credit card, a simpler alternative that many will find less intrusive.

Doesn't this system put soldiers' personal security at risk, by using the internet for personal information?

We will ensure that the combination of security measures and data protection provide effective safeguards against this risk. No member of the forces will be forced to disclose personal information to obtain clothing. If preferred you can have your order delivered to your work address.

What happens when soldiers run out of allocated points?

If a soldier exceeds the normal rate of wear and tear for a valid reason they should go to their QM and explain the situation, the QM can then authorize an increase in allocated points. On the other hand if they are at fault, for example if they lose their uniform through negligence, then they will be able to purchase replacement items just as they do now.
What should be done with old items of clothing?

Worn items should be disposed of in the same way they are now, i.e. returned to your QM for proper disposal.

Is this an attempt by MOD to save money?

We don't expect to achieve any savings during the pilot, in fact there will be some small additional costs. We expect that a Defence-wide service would allow us to make savings through reducing the overall amount of stock on shelves. The on-line catalogue should also help the MOD manage the supply of clothing better, because it will make detailed information on the actual measurements of service personnel available. This could also allow us to modify the standard size range, and so have better-fitting uniforms.

When do you expect to expand the pilot?

The pilot is limited by a clear scope and an 8-month time limit. We don't expect to expand either scope or time. It will be followed by a competition for a Defence-wide service as soon as possible, but this will be limited by our ability to specify the requirement clearly, so no earlier than the end of the pilot. We intend to start the preliminary stages before the pilot ends, and are urgently seeking to define the range of options that should be considered, so that industry can decide whether they are interested or not.

Why aren't the RN or RAF involved?

Although there aren't any members of the RN or RAF in the pilot population, the project team is keeping the Fleet and Air Command staff informed. The pilot is using the Army because it has the most complex rules for entitlement, and because the Army has expressed the greatest dissatisfaction with the current system.

Interesting to see the outcome of this.

The cynic in me sees redundancies in the QM/CQMS roles.

The effect on eBay could also be interesting, though it's hard to guess whether this would result in a greater or lesser number of items available.
Worn items should be disposed of in the same way they are now, i.e. returned to your QM for proper disposal.
So you've still got to go to the Qm's to get the old exchange item taken off your 1157 anyway. No doubt within a certain timeframe as well. So if the lad is away on course and rips his smock, he can get the new one delivered, but will still have the embuggerance of having to still go back to camp and see the Qm's rep.

A possible better method would be for stores to come out in prepaid returnable envelopes (like they do for.. FEPS data cards, for instance)

Kit is booked out at the relevant depot
DHL /whoever could tip up with the kit in the reusable bag (the label having a serial number/bar code like Vital)
The lad takes the stuff out,
Puts the old kit in and turns the label round.
Seals the bag and hands it back.

30 seconds work.

Bag returns to depot, Label scanned, Kit is checked for quantity, etc

Transaction complete.

They could even charge a fee for using the service. I'd pay a quid per bag/parcel delivery to be able to sort out my kit when on course, etc
I was about to suggest a variation on Fatbadge's theme, but then came the realisation that the electronic ordering scheme has a major pitfall. Delivery.

Where will the recipient be at the time of the delivery? It won't matter whether delivery is by civvy contractor or by Service means, if the recipient is not able to wait about in a single location for hours (or days) on end, he won't get personal delivery. Then the item goes missing.

The solution is to deliver to a distribution point. Probably, the most appropriate place for this would be the Clothing Store of the nearest unit to the soldier.

Now, this could be very handy, as the soldier could return his replaced bit of kit at the same time.

Almost back to square one, then - there's usually a good reason why procedures evolve over time.

That's not to say that procedures can't be improved, though. The internet ordering process gives the ability to RE-STOCK more efficiently and with a shorter paperwork chain, perhaps allowing Clothing Stores to be more streamlined and reducing the number of times that the CQMS says, "We haven't got that size. Come back next week."

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