Inventory Management System (IMS)

Objectives

The objective of the Inventory Management System (IMS) were to develop and evaluate the operational techniques associated with the use of IMS software and a bar code reader (BCR). The IMS was used to document stowage location changes resulting from equipment transfer and nominal ISS operations, to evaluate the use of bar code labels on stowage locations and equipment, and to evaluate the use of preflight electronic stowage documentation.

Shuttle-Mir Missions
STS-79, STS-91

Approach
The first test of the BCR concept on STS-79 utilized a barcode and data logger (BDL) assembly to scan Shuttle-Mir transfer bags. A bar code cue card was used to emulate each bag for use with the experiment and bar code labels for Mir stowage locations were provided on cue cards. The flight crew simulated transferring the bags by scanning the bar code label on the bag and the Mir stowage location bar code on the cue cards. The simulation was required since the performance of this experiment was restricted to the Shuttle. On STS-91, the new ISS developmental hardware was tested, with the transferred equipment and locations simulated with bar codes on cue cards deployed throughout the middeck.

Results
The STS-79 prototype BCR and related software did not function effectively on orbit as compared to preflight testing, training and development. The STS-79 test, with new ISS developmental hardware, did validate the IMS concept. The second flight on STS-91 provided verification of the ISS developmental hardware and software, procedures, and file transferring capabilities.

As demonstrated by the STS-79 and 91 tests, on-orbit testing will be invaluable in refining the Phase 2 system plans. The Phase 1 mission to Mir demonstrated that resupply and return equipment and transfer bags are frequently put in temporary or different locations of various lengths of time for differing reasons, therefore stowage is a fluid process. The Phase 2/3 solution must be very flexible.

Earth Benefits
The concept of tracking transfer items using a barcode reader is familiar to most people. Bar codes are scanned when you buy groceries, clothing, and tools, to name a few. The IMS goes one step further, though, in also tracking where hardware or resupply items are stored.

Publications
Dynacs Engineering Company. ISS Phase 1 Risk Mitigation Experiments and Technology Demonstration summaries and Lessons Learned. ISS Phase 1 RME Forum. JSC 28080 Revision A. Houston, TX. August 1998.

Principal Investigators
Robert J. Hanley
NASA/Johnson Space Center

Thomas D. Akers
NASA/Johnson Space Center

Ronald M. Sega
NASA/Johnson Space Center

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Page last updated: 07/16/1999

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