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Applying Lean to Military Supply Chain

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums General Forums Implementation Applying Lean to Military Supply Chain

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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  • #55619

    JP_Cole
    Participant

    My name is JeanPaul Cole, a graduate student at UCMO. My question is a part of my study/assignment. I am currently in the Military as an Aviation Logistician Officer and often times wonder how I could successfully balance the demands and requirements of military aviation stockpiling of parts with trying to lean our stockage levels. We have systems in place that require a 90 day demand analysis to determine what and how many parts to keep on hand, yet the constant levels are well over the required amount as the norm rather than the exception.

    The real question I am trying to ask is in your opinions, without practical experience dealing with the Military supply system how do you think you could lower your stockage levels without being able to accurately predict lead times, and also availability of purchasing funds on a consistent basis. That is to say that some times it may take 30 days for a component to arrive, and other times it may take much longer. We also have budget highs and lows that require us to over spend at times, and not spend at all other times. Also do you feel that the added costs of having to request more items under emergency Aircraft On Ground (AOG) conditions, out weighs keeping more items on hand.

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    #200806

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @JPCole – as a former army officer, and in charge of the company supply room, I can understand and appreciate your question. Unfortunately, it does not have simple and easy answers, nor can be answered in a forum such as this. As you identify, there are inherent issues with the procurement methods – spend like crazy at the end of the fiscal year to ensure no unspent funds (creating excess inventory), and spending moratoriums at other times which, unexpectedly, also results in excess inventory as orgs fear future spending cuts and purchase more than they truly need in anticipation of not being able to purchase in the future. While civilian companies also face some of these forces, they are also moderated by those in control of budgets are judged on their management of same, while in the military there is much less similar budgetary scrutiny.

    If you’d like to discuss further let me know and we can set something up off-line.

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    #200830

    JP_Cole
    Participant

    @MBBinWI – Thank you for your response, it is not too often that people can relate to my struggle to not always stockpile supply parts. My counterparts in the sister units and I often try to discus strategies and ideas on how to accomplish this daunting task. I guess what I am here to try and discuss is the possibility of minimizing the amount of parts I keep on hand while keeping the minimum required still on the shelf. What type of study would you conduct, and how large of sample size would you use to determine the numbers and lead times. I often don’t get longer than six months before having to change everything, location, types of helicopters, and even the mission types.

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    #200844

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @JPCole – you will have to do the work to determine study type and sample sizes. I don’t give away my expertise for free. If, however, you do some diligence and present your proposal, there are several here who will provide you guidance and feedback on your proposal.

    One avenue that might bear fruit is to widen your thinking about parts stockpiles. Not only should different parts be held at different levels of the maintenance hierarchy, but similar levels can be linked laterally so that parts needed across the network can be shuffled laterally to where they are needed when needed. This can help reduce overall stockpiles. When I was in the army, the maintenance chiefs tended to hoard their individual stockpiles so that they always had what was needed, and a lot of stuff that was rarely needed as well. If, instead, you can get those chiefs to freely swap the parts from one motor pool to another, nobody has to hoard everything. The key is that those needed parts are available in a timely manner. Just my humble experience.

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    #201177

    Dean Ekman
    Participant

    Unpredictability is another factor in why commanders insist on stockpiling parts.

    For example, in 2003 I led a project to resolve why requesting combat units in Iraq weren’t receiving requested parts. Lots of possible reasons were evaluated, but it turned out that the root cause was that units were moving so quickly that the geo location of requesting units could not be updated quickly enough to ensure parts were delivered to the right place (they were delivered alright, but to a place the unit USED to be).

    Commanders simply want to mitigate any risk that they can – therefore, stockpiling. Until systems evolve to where commanders have high confidence that resupply will always reach them when needed, they’ll continue to horde parts.

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    #201179

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @dean6294 – I used to face the same thing as an Air Defense unit. Because we were usually tasked out to support a maneuver unit, I was rarely with the BN HQ.

    It would seem that the “address” should be the unit and not a specific geo-location. That way, as the unit moves, their “address” updates as well. With the advent of GPS it would seem this could be done all the way down to the individual vehicle level. Surprised it hasn’t been done already.

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    #201180

    Dean Ekman
    Participant

    In my experience above, Army units ordered parts via Standard Army Retail Supply System (SARSS). Each unit’;s requisitions were shipped to a Department of Defense Activity Address Code (DoDAAC) – which in 2003 was initially based on where a unit was “supposed to be” instead of where they actually were.

    The problem was based on units moving significantly faster through the battlefield than planned – this meant that many units were hundred of miles further up the Euphrates than expected – and you know the rest.

    We had to shut the system down for a couple of days to update locations.

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    #201184

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @dean6294 – that’s still a system based on estimation/prediction and not reality. Seems this could be done better. But then what do I know?

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