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News | Aug. 19, 2019

DLA Aviation’s IPE division seeks to improve internal processes after significant growth

By Cathy Hopkins DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s Industrial Plant Equipment Services Division may still be a little known division within the supply chain, but you wouldn’t know it by the multi-million dollar growth they have experienced in the last four years.

Rocky Weaver, who became the division’s new chief in January, said new procurement sales of equipment to the services grew from approximately $65 million in fiscal 2015 to over $170 million so far in fiscal 2019.

The division is the Department of Defense’s integrated material manager for all industrial metalworking equipment which is listed under Federal Supply Class 3400.

Part of the reason for growth is the military services are replacing outdated and aged machinery while expanding their current capabilities for their mission. IPE also performs machine tool repair services for ship-board and land-based organizations at the unit level.

“The increase in demand for IPE services has led to the need to increase our manning levels to ensure we continue to provide the support needed to our customers,” said Weaver.

The Navy alone has committed more than $800 million in new procurement dollars over the next five  years with Command Fleet Readiness Centers forecasting a significant capital improvement standardization plan with the procurement of more than 480 pieces of 3400 FSC IPE for all depot-level repair centers. 

“This would mean multiple purchases of the same item at one time for multiple sites, requiring extensive contract oversight by an acquisition specialist from contract award to closeout,” said Weaver.

David Theriot, Weaver’s deputy chief, said with the demand increases, “We are looking to improve our processes ensuring we are providing the most cost-efficient services possible.”

Process reviews ongoing at their Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, facility include reviewing the repair and rebuild estimating process and exploring every avenue to get parts faster.  Weaver said working with the new plant manager, Brian Heath, they are also ensuring contracts are let quickly and efficiently, developing training programs to build bench strength and bolster their workforce succession management plan.

The management team also decided they should buy bench stock for the machines routinely repaired to eliminate the amount of lead time and to significantly reduce overall project completion time. Heath took the lead to increase the facility’s government purchase card limits to $10,000 per purchase.

New procurements are not the only service performed by the division.

Last year, the division’s mechanics, machinists and electricians went to 22 ships to assess, install, relocate and repair industrial equipment.  So far in 2019, they have performed operations on 14 ships and have 34 machines in the Mechanicsburg rebuild facility.

Theriot said they have traveled to Navy shipyards on the East and West Coasts of the United States and to ship repair facilities in Guam, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. Repairs for the Marine Corps are done in Barstow, California and with the Army at Anniston Army Depot, Anniston, Alabama.

Weaver said he currently has 60 equipment items in the works with the project managers that have not yet went to contracting totaling more than $116.5 million, 78 projects that are in pre-award contracting totaling more than $129 million and 70 projects with open contracts totaling $170.6 million in fiscal 2019.

 “We are in the process of contracting a private consulting firm to do a six-month study to identify additional areas where we can improve,” said Weaver. “The study will look at our end-to-end process for rebuilds and repairs, focus on implementing new processes as well as on implementing a new management information system to track machines, parts ordered, etc.”

To learn more about IPE services, visit their webpage or email