Product specialist shares rotation program experience

By Bonnie Koenig DLA Aviation Public Affairs

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The Defense Logistics Agency Enterprise Rotation Program is part of the organizational culture that empowers employees in a variety of competencies to promote long-term investment in workforce development.

Organic Manufacturing Product Specialist Rick Williamson, who works in DLA Aviation’s Engineering Directorate, was accepted into the 2016 rotation program and took a three-month rotation, March – May, to DLA Distribution San Joaquin in Tracy, California. San Joaquin is DLA’s primary distribution point to the Western contiguous states and the Pacific area for materiel distribution of a wide variety of items.

After acceptance into the program, Williamson was allowed to choose either a job-shadowing assignment or to work on a specific project at the assigned site. Williamson chose to do a project and said he got his idea from the DLA Tiger Team’s format which is chasing down bottlenecks in backorders tied to a supply discrepancy report, meaning items are in a not “ready-for-issue,” state and getting those items back into the supply chain for issue.

He selected to work on clearing the SDR stock suspended at San Joaquin because he wanted to learn about the other side of the business - distribution, receiving and issuing - which he thinks DLA Aviation employees know the least about.  Williamson said his primary reason for selecting this project was getting answers to his questions. “We contract $30 million a year in organic manufacturing and essentially get our Air Force and Navy partners to make these parts and ship the items to the depots,” he said. “If our stock gets bottlenecked for any reason, we can’t get paid, we can’t put the item on inventory and most importantly we can’t get it to our customers.”

Williamson said early on he worked with Sharri Wise, deputy of the Inventory Management Division at San Joaquin, who suggested ways for him to prepare such as: getting Distribution Standard System access, getting a fork-lift license, and to set-up weekly item pulls with DLA Aviation Business Process Support Directorate’s Research, Review and Analysis Division to identify materials that had backorders and were suspended at San Joaquin, so he could work those first.

“The job I did does not exist at San Joaquin, and the DDC employees do not have the disposition authority,” said Williamson. “By placing a position with the disposition authority at San Joaquin, this strategy would reduce backorders, speed up processes and eliminate the bottleneck that slows down or stops the process in supporting the warfighter.”

“It was great seeing the other side of the business and the return on investment is measureable from conception because the work accomplished in those three months showed real-time cost savings,” said Williamson. “I worked 326 SDRs, and of those, 132 had backorders. The 132 BOs were valued at $4.7 million.” He said he cleared 324 unfulfilled order lines and the SDRs he cleared equated to 7,000 days of items awaiting to be cleared. “Bottom line, in the three-month assignment, the value cleared and moved to distribution was $7.8 million. The items cleared ranged from a two-dollar part up to a $30,000 part,” said Williamson.

His experience at the DDC brought to light ideas for not only cost savings, but also for better processes for reducing backorders, and reducing the DDC workload and the workload back in Richmond.

“This program encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone, see the big picture, come up with solutions, and the by-product for the enterprise is: DLA employees are learning the business and the enterprise is building its workforce,” said Williamson.

He said in his discipline of work it is imperative to understand cross processes and to go out and experience those processes.

For information on the DLA Enterprise Rotation Program, click on link.