News | June 2, 2020

Supply chain analysis tool helps teams solve problems before they arise

By Natalie Skelton, DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Imagine being able to see into the future and solve problems before they reach critical mass. Sounds unlikely, right? Not for Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s Business Process Support Directorate’s Industrial Analysis Support Branch Chief Adam Hardee and his team, who use inventory tracking software in combination with a new predictive metric to ensure supply chain disruptions are resolved before they affect fleet repair operations.

The Center of Parts Activity, or COPA, is used to track parts in the supply chain that support three air logistics complexes and three fleet readiness centers. It is online and accessible within three available roles in AMPS, the Account Management and Provisioning System, including users external to DLA; DLA employees; and members of Hardee’s analytic and development team.

“COPA has been in use across the ALCs at Robins, Tinker and Hill Air Force bases since 1999,” said Hardee. “DLA has hosted this web-based program since 2009.”

Hardee said COPA allows them to move from the traditional data delivery methods of Excel, PowerPoint, email, and shared drives to automated web dashboards powered by direct data feeds into Air Force and Navy systems as well as DLA systems.

“This method puts the tools and analytics into the hands of the process area experts each morning when the workday begins, and it reduces the need to manually pull and manipulate massive amounts of data on a daily basis.” Hardee said.

Hardee’s team manages all analytics for the ALCs and FRCs. “My team is constantly looking to move from diagnostic analytics towards predictive and prescriptive analytics,” he said.

Supply chain analysis tool helps teams solve problems before they arise
This graphic shows the color-coding used in the Materiel Supportability Analysis tool. Material Supportability Analysis tool provides a snapshot of the material available versus consumption, for any piece part, projected over a 24-month timeframe. (Photo Graphic)
Supply chain analysis tool helps teams solve problems before they arise
Supply chain analysis tool helps teams solve problems before they arise
This graphic shows the color-coding used in the Materiel Supportability Analysis tool. Material Supportability Analysis tool provides a snapshot of the material available versus consumption, for any piece part, projected over a 24-month timeframe. (Photo Graphic)
Photo By: Graphic
VIRIN: 200513-D-D0441-1002
This objective led to the creation of the Materiel Supportability Analysis tool as well as multiple automated dashboards that guide customer support and sustainment specialists to direct root cause actions they can remedy to alleviate disruptions in the supply chains before those disruptions affect the ALCs’ and FRCs’ production repair lines.

The MSA tool was developed over a 12-month time period by my team of analysts in direct coordination with our process area experts across the fleet readiness centers,” Hardee said. “It has undergone two revisions and was recently deployed across all three FRCs for continued testing and business rule refinement.”

“When developing a supportability tool, it is critical to understand the unique business practices and policies of the supported entity,” he said.

“The biggest hurdle was incorporating the various data elements both within and external to DLA as well as securing data-sharing agreements with the services. Finalizing the needed data inputs and developing the proper business rules was critical in developing the Materiel Supportability Analysis tool. This was accomplished through direct coordination with DLA Aviation and Navy process area experts as well as our business process office.” Hardee said.

The goal of the Material Supportability Analysis tool is to provide a common view of the material available vs consumption, for any piece part, projected over a 24-month timeframe, Hardee explained.

“We accomplish this by combining critical Navy data elements with DLA supply chain data and providing the end users with actionable alerts to address demand or supply chain problems that are contributing to gaps in supportability.

The greatest benefit of the MSA, Hardee said, is the combination of 24-month support status and potential factors or drivers that can identify priority items and allow planners to get ahead of potential shortages.

Those drivers, ranging from no purchase request, to purchase order to under-forecast and delinquent contracts, are identified and presented as report filters.

The MSA development is a prime example of DLA Aviation’s Year of Accountability Initiative being put into practice. The initiative’s purpose is to remind the workforce to hold themselves responsible for their actions, behaviors and performance. Supervisors are expected to create a working environment and culture that promotes collaborative work efforts.

“Instead of manually working through the Navy’s forecast or gross demand plan and researching every single stock number, the MSA provides a tailored support posture for every workload that our DLA Aviation teams support,” Hardee said.

“This color-coded approach allows our process area experts to work the most critical supportability gaps first,” he said.

The automated version of the MSA tool is scheduled for release in September, shortly before the beginning of Fiscal Year 2021. Hardee’s team continues to provide the manual version while they complete user testing.

“By working the MSA tool, DLA resolves supply disruptions before they become UFOs [unfilled orders] which reduces work-stoppage situations on the repair lines across the services. The MSA tool, along with our ‘root cause’ approach to data analytics, has led to record highs in materiel availability and fill rates across all three FRCs. Our efforts to automate our tools and analytics will free up critical resources to focus on predictive and prescriptive analytics instead of the traditional ‘autopsy’ approach to performance analysis.” Hardee said.