News | June 18, 2020

Process improvements speed parts delivery

By Cathy Hopkins DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Metrics don’t always tell the whole story and successful organizations welcome customer feedback and areas to improve.

Back in January, the 573rd Commodities Maintenance Squadron leadership at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex reached out to the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation at Warner Robins’ Storage and Distribution team about issue and delivery delays for raw materials not being delivered to their mechanics quickly enough.

Joe Jinks, chief of Storage and Distribution, manages 26 DLA Aviation at Warner Robins shop services centers. He didn’t understand the complaint.  DLA has an agreement with the Air Force that retail parts will be delivered to the repair lines within 90 minutes of a request and all the DLA metrics he tracks daily were all on target.

So, Jinks began to investigate, visiting each shop and speaking with his shop supervisors to find out why delays weren’t reflected in his metrics. His goal was to improve efficiency, enhance customer relations and increase support to the mission.

Jinks’ deep dive into the issue revealed the problem centered around Air Force excess material DLA has managed for the ALC since DLA Aviation activated its industrial support activity on Robins Air Force Base back in October 2007.

In particular, excess material returns being stored in two SSCs were cluttering up the warehouses, making it hard to find parts quickly and slowing down the component repair lines for the 573rd CMXS Hercules aircraft (C-130) propeller shop and the Eagle (F-15), Galaxy (C-5), and Globemaster III (C-17) aircraft wing shops.

DLA’s previous agreement with the squadron had always been that mechanics could return material to the SSCs in less than a unit of issue, for example a half a sheet of sheet metal.  Once returned, the material was sometimes difficult to identify.

Over the years a large amount of “excess” material had accumulated, and inventory accountability was also a concern, said Anthony Shelton, chief of the Commodities Maintenance Group Materiel Management Section at DLA Aviation at Warner Robins.

Jason Lamb is one of Jinks’ shop supervisors, who leads the teams in the two SSCs. Lamb said prior to the project starting his warehouses were at their maximum capacity, with little room to store items properly which was becoming a safety concern.

“Most days were very tiring, and we were going home sweaty and nasty due to the amount of time this material had been in the warehouses, collecting dust,” said Lamb. “My team and I worked overtime hours during the week and even weekends to try and complete this project as quickly as we could.” He added he was proud of all the work his team did while also keeping up with their daily tasks.

After Lamb’s team cleaned up the shops, he worked with the squadron’s industrial planner, Steven Calhoun, to identify what material should stay and what should go.

“This was definitely a great team effort between DLA and the 573rd CMXS. After Mr. Calhoun researched and identified the material that could be reallocated, DLA was quick to action,” said Foskey. “I could not believe how quickly the SSCs located in Bldg. 129 and Bldg. 161 changed.”

The team dispositioned 638 items; 133 assets were no longer needed in the SSC and retuned back to the DLA Distribution warehouse, the remaining assets went to DLA Disposition as used parts classified as either non-serviceable, obsolete, or less than a full unit of issue.   

Shelton said during a site visit to the shops, the team also identified steps to resolve the current problems and prevent it from happening again.

They identified three process improvements.

The Air Force mechanics agreed to limit returns of material that were less than a unit of issue to the shops and to ensure material returned was marked with a national stock number.

By ensuring returns are marked with an NSN, DLA Aviation SSC material expeditors are able to inventory and store parts in identifiable locations  With additional training, DLA Aviation employees were also able to access and load an additional report to SSC computers to help track parts.

As chief, Jinks also modified the DLA stock inventory procedures to include adding inventory controls for Air Force excess material stored in the SSCs to DLA Aviation’s annual inventory accountability processes.

Lamb said he is very proud of his team’s work and the difference that it made in the conditions of the work areas.

“Throughout this process we also formed better working relationships with our Air Force customers and counterparts,” Lamb said. “None of this would have been possible without the joint effort that was put forth by both organizations.”

The five-month effort ended at the end of May with Jinks returning to the shops to ensure the process improvements had achieved the team’s goals.

Jinks noted that the improvements started paying off immediately. As material was inventoried and placed on record, expeditors started issuing material out to fill backorders.

Foskey said the cleanout created excess room allowing for a much better organization of the material used.

“As a result, I talked with our work leader for the Sheet Metal Shop, Ricky Lancaster, and he said the DLA response time for material requests has shown a 100% improvement,” said Foskey. “Ricky has been impressed with how quickly he can get material, which ultimately lowers our flow days and speeds up our response time to the warfighter.”