Fort Belvoir, VA, Sept. 1, 2019 —
Of all the things that can stop a production line for aircraft engine repairs – not enough workers, lack of floor space, conflicting requirements – the Defense Logistics Agency controls one: material availability. Multiply that by the 30 to 40 production lines needed to fix an aircraft engine and the agency’s stake in military readiness quickly grows.
DLA’s Service Readiness Dashboard measures how well the agency does its part to keep production flowing. Created in March 2018 to provide near real-time reporting on readiness rates for key weapons systems, the online tool now includes metrics to measure DLA’s support at military industrial sites like Anniston Army Depot and the Ogden Air Logistics Complex.
“This gives the services’ leadership and ours a common operating picture of drivers that might be impacting a specific weapons system production line. Giving both service members and DLA employees access to the data we’re tracking stimulates collaboration and helps ensure we’re in sync with each other,” said Pat Cihak, operations research analyst for DLA Logistics Operations
’ Metrics Integration Branch.
For operational readiness monitoring, each service determined which weapons systems DLA included in the Dashboard. Three air and 10 ground systems were selected for the Army, for example. Systems are coded as green, amber or red depending on whether they’re operational or out of service for reasons ranging from maintenance to parts.
The new industrial metrics help complete the readiness picture by focusing on production lines that relate to those key weapons systems, said Sean Ahrens, Metrics Integration Branch chief.
“Let’s say we’re looking at Army ground systems being repaired in the depots. We can pull up all the depot-reported industrial back orders, export the data into Excel and filter it any way we need to highlight critical line stoppers or oldest back orders,” he said.
Before the Dashboard, DLA only tracked how many back orders it had for industrial support as a whole. Decision makers and planners didn’t have easy access to data that indicated which back-ordered items were most important or which depot and production line needed them.
Since industrial metrics now allow the agency to quickly identify back-ordered items causing work stoppages on production lines as well as potential line stoppers, orders for those back-ordered items can be expedited, Ahrens said.
Fueled by information from DLA’s Enterprise Data Warehouse and the services’ supply systems, the Dashboard also tracks how much stock is available, estimated shipping dates and even whether depots are ahead or behind on production schedules. And since users are viewing near-real time data, they can react quickly as issues emerge.
“That’s a huge change because we used to wait until the end of the month to gather and analyze metrics, and that meant we were looking into problems that happened almost two months ago, saying ‘Gee, I wish I’d known about that when it happened; maybe I could’ve done something to fix it,’” Ahrens continued.
DLA officials want the Dashboard to be a tool service logisticians and even Defense Department leaders can rely on to quickly view the status of DLA’s support. To prove it, the agency recently started using the Dashboard to track an additional 104 items the Army considers key readiness drivers.
“The goal is to keep a healthy stock of those items. We just built the list, and mission availability is only at about 30% so we’ve got a way to go,” Ahrens said. “And although only about 30% of those 104 items go to the 13 weapons systems the Army originally asked us to track, this is another way we can support the service’s industrial efforts.”
Weapons systems currently being tracked in the Dashboard were chosen by the services about two years ago as the Dashboard was developed. DLA is working with the services to revalidate whether those systems remain the most critical for combat power.
Future Dashboard enhancements will include an on-target inventory metric to assist supply planners in assessing stock levels. It will detail all items ordered for specific weapons systems for the past three years and show DLA stock levels for those items. Metrics that measure types and quantity of stock at military warehouses could also help logistics planners optimize stock levels at those warehouses, particularly in cases where depots may be trying to save money by relying on stock stored off-site even though it can take days for parts to be shipped, Ahrens added.
Service leaders focused on overall readiness rates and tighter funding for new equipment will find valuable data on the Dashboard too, he said.
“If the Army is trying to get readiness rates for the M1 tank up to 80%, then fixing the ones sitting at the depot waiting for repairs means one more M1 in the plus category and one less down,” he continued. “The money for brand-new systems is tight across the board.”
The Dashboard shows DLA’s commitment to being transparent and sharing data – good and bad – with warfighters.
“We’re not worried about being a Fortune 500 company. We’re 100% focused on doing our part to improve readiness rates,” Ahrens said.
Access the DLA Service Readiness Dashboard (Common Access Card required)