SEPRT held in Richmond, moving from managing parts to strategic solutions

By Bonnie Koenig DLA Aviation public affairs

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The annual Senior Executive Partnership Roundtable was held at the Frank B. Lotts Conference Center on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, May 10. The SEPRT gathers senior executives from strategic supplier alliances to meet with the Defense Logistics Agency leadership and military customer senior leaders to discuss general issues affecting DLA Aviation suppliers.

DLA Aviation Commander Air Force Brig. Gen. Allan Day hosted the roundtable event and welcomed attendees saying DLA can’t deliver if there aren’t partnerships with suppliers. “The health of any relationship depends on communication and the ability to make agreements that benefit all parties,” said Day. “DLA Aviation’s goal is to support the warfighter by establishing long-term contracts, increasing manual through-put, focusing on innovative ways to increase the performance of wholesale material availability and at the same time delivering on the difficult-to-procure items.” 

Among the presenters were Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. Jon Davis; DLA’s Finance Director Tony Poleo; General Electric’s Military Customer Support, Military Systems Operations General Manager Christina Seda-Hoelle; Eaton’s Aerospace Group Accounts Manager Marsena Covington: Lockheed Martin’s Global Supply Chain Services Program Management Subcontract Senior Manager Jay Bayliss; and DLA Aviation’s Deputy Commander Charlie Lilli.

Day introduced Davis who spoke to attendees from a voice of the customer perspective. Davis was instrumental in implementing a mandate for readiness increasing Marine Corps presence at DLA Aviation from three active duty Marine personnel to 15. The investment creates a direct connection with suppliers and drives readiness outcomes to the fleet. Day said the Marine Corps interfaces with the fleet to communicate that DLA is making readiness outcomes happen. Davis spoke to attendees from a voice of the customer perspective.

Davis said the reasons more Marines were here are all pragmatic, it’s about what does it take to win. He said it’s a big responsibility for our Marine Corps and what DLA Aviation does is important. “The Marine Corps is a force in readiness … whatever happens, socially or politically around the world, the Marines will always be ready to move at a moment’s notice,” said Davis.

Davis continued by stating some of the challenges from a customer perspective. He pointed out the common issue that they are focusing in all areas is with the fact that 75 percent of their aircraft will go forward quickly; they are currently below the required readiness to make that happen. The Marine faces both a non-mission capable supply, or NMCS, and a non-mission capable maintenance, or NMCM problem which takes a toll on human capital. The Marines are working to train and retain the right people but this training and development is more challenging due to the supply and maintenance challenges in the fleet. Instead of getting good training, the Marines are looking for parts to get aircraft ready to fly training missions to ensure pilots are ready for war.
Another important issue Davis discussed was awaiting parts and the fact that when the parts aren’t on the shelf, they cannibalize another down aircraft to get one up. He said this is a problem that cuts across each type model series that the Marine Corps flies. Through analysis with a series of independent readiness review teams, the Marine Corps has been able to determine what needs to be done for each type model series to improve readiness.

Industry partner GE’s Seda-Hoelle gave an update on the Next Generation Leading Edge Aviation Propulsion (LEAP) high-bypass turbofan engine program and their technology and supply challenges. She said GE is investing in additive manufacturing and is focusing on the aviation military customer. GE has a global network of manufacturers who understand high-volume requirements, and with the support of their executive leadership have put in place a structure of operating rhythms, metrics and expectations to ensure they are ramped up for production.

“Strategically they decided to dual source 80 percent of LEAP parts,” said Seda-Hoelle. “This was huge change in strategy because there is an increase in manpower and tooling requirements. To have success, GE’s LEAP program increased collaborations at each source. She said they are also focusing on digital data in the form of what they call ‘brilliant factories,’ which are databases that show how a part was assembled at one site or the way components were manufactured at another site. This digital thread can show engineers where possible improvements can be made to improve engine performance. Digital information is also key in delivering parts on time and assists in seeing the finished product before it gets to the customer.

Day said DLA Aviation has expanded the captains of industry term to include supplier capability contracts, or COI SCC.  The new term more clearly describes that DLA desires to leverage all the key capabilities of our key suppliers and bring them to bear on our readiness challenges through a single contracting vehicle.

“We clearly have not arrived at 100 percent of our required sustainment support.  If we have met our metric, it doesn’t mean we have met the needs of our warfighter,” said Day. “Relationships and communication are the keys to achieving true success in the eyes of the warfighter.”

DLA Aviation’s Deputy Commander Charlie Lilli spoke on the Captains of Industry Supplier Capability Contracts evolution, from parts to solutions to strategy. He said, if the ten-year contracts are successful, they can be implemented as a way of doing business in the future. Getting input from those who make the parts will improve day-to-day business and establish a team approach to solutions. “Also, getting industry perspectives and leverage capabilities will improve relationships and have long-term benefits,” said Lilli.

Lilli said our strategy looks beyond today’s challenges and implements both short and long-term solutions but requires continued dedicated efforts. “We can’t do this alone,” he said. “Budget cycles and funding streams inhibit long-term investment and swim lanes prohibit integrated solutions.” He asked industry to help provide solutions and collaborate on sustainment strategies.