News | Nov. 17, 2021

Behind the scenes work safeguards hardware transition

By Cathy Hopkins DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s Planning Directorate employees were busy over the last year as DLA began standing down its industrial hardware supply chain and moving item management of almost half a million parts to DLA Aviation and to DLA Land and Maritime in Columbus, Ohio.

Materiel planners, resolution specialists and the activity’s customer focused intelligence team worked behind the scenes and across directorates in 2020 ensuring continued warfighter support during the transition.

First, employees in DLA Aviation’s supplier operations directorates align the parts to aviation profit centers/directorates. Then, material planners are assigned parts that are in the directorates they support.

Troy Thomas, chief of the Materiel Planning Division, said the transfer created a large workload increase in an unfamiliar federal supply class for his division.

“After multiple part transfers from DLA Troop Support, we couldn’t keep up doing business as usual,” he said. “We restructured to devote one branch to these items, streamlining the effort and efficiency by the fifth and sixth transfer.”  The restructured branch also increased in size from 28 to 34 employees.

Thomas said he shifted workload around for one competitive branch to focus only on the industrial hardware federal supply group – the nuts, bolts, screws, washers, etc.

He applauded the work of the restructured Hardware, Privatization and Nuclear Branch led by Rodney Dunson saying they inherited the majority of new items and took on a big task with a smile on their faces.

“The group relieved pressure on the other two competitive branches, Life Support, Engine & Air Frames and Electrical Components, Cables, Lighting, and Bearings, and focused the new knowledge into one area which helped the transition go more smoothly,” said Thomas. “Most reviews of incoming parts could be done through automation, but about a third needed to be looked by materiel planners which equaled about 4,000-5,000 additional active parts per planner.”

Of the transferred parts, 2,883 were added under what DLA Aviation considers its crown jewels, raising the activity’s crown jewel population to roughly 7,460 parts. Crown jewels are a subset of high visibility parts that materiel planners focus on because they account for 40% of the activity’s material availability goals and have an annual demand frequency equal to or greater than 80 demands within a year.

Materiel Planning looks at an item’s health to determine how much the activity can buy and to determine the optimum planning strategy. Planning methods go by different names, like Peak, Next Generation and Consumption Pull System, and are based on low frequency/high demand, high frequency/low demand, stocked active and historical demand for the item.

Materiel planners focus on stocked active items, checking that the information on the item’s master record /header data is correct and that it meets DLA Aviation’s criteria. Meanwhile, the customer focused intelligence team ensures demand plans are accurate and that necessary adjustment are made

“We also look to see if we have the right quantity coming in, a purchase request, or a current contract pending to ensure the item remains healthy [available],” said Thomas.

“It is challenging to get vendors to bid on low-dollar items when supporting hardware,” said Nathan Thibodeau, Thomas’ deputy division chief. “We are looking at the most cost-effective way to automate item buying through strategic planning while supporting the activity’s supplier operations directorates in establishing a vendor base for the new items without overbuying.” The Materiel Planning Division reviews items for annual needs as well as need for up to four years out.

Thibodeau also said they look at an overall population of items at the aggregate level to see if anything is trending or is hindering that population like incompatible acquisition advice codes, lead times and contractual incompatibility based on current processes and policies.

“If so, we work with our Business Process Support Directorate to have their analysts run data pulls to see what is impeding the process,” he said.  “Our role as MPs is to bridge the gap realized during the transfer process and cover any shortfall in pipeline.”