BY CMDR. CHRIS ROESNER, Supply Corps Officer, Fleet Readiness Center South West, Weapon Systems Support
FRCSW aircraft programs have proven their value to the warfighter by returning 139 aircraft and major systems to the fleet in 2018. Those aircraft included 29 F/A-18 Hornet fighter-attack jets, four AV-8B Harrier attack jets, eight E-2 Hawkeye early warning aircraft, eight C-2 Greyhound logistical support aircraft, 60 H-60 Seahawk helicopters, 13 AH-l/HH-l/ UH-l helicopters, five CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters, two MQ-8B Fire Scout, six MV-22B Osprey and three CV-22B Osprey.
The component program has repair capability for more than 11,000 unique components used on Navy and Marine frontline aircraft. During fiscal year 2018 (FY18), the command produced over 33,000 components in support of fleet requirements. These included common avionics, hydraulics, control surfaces, and support equipment. FRCSW is the sole organic repair center for the LM2500 turbine engine that powers the Burke, Aegis, and Perry class surface ships. During FY18, FRCSW rebuilt and returned seven LM2500 engines to the fleet. This command that never had a supply officer (SUPPO) is embracing the newly created SUPPO (N41) position. The MRO process is closely comparable to supply chain management, and the N41 adds tremendous value by contributing to increased throughput, which leads to more parts and aircraft available to the fleet, and ultimately increased lethality through readiness. The Naval Aviation Enterprise development of an FRC SUPPO for end-to-end supply chain management addresses issues such as:
- Materiel delays at the FRC inhibiting long-term, sustainable improvement of depot level performance,
- Lack of 9B bit and piece parts that resulted in 20% of all repairs at FRCSW being delayed an average of 84 days, and
- Gross demand inaccuracy resulting in inadequate stock posture contributing to 52% of current shortages in a highly variable system.
The new FRC N41 has taken ownership of three critical functions to increase production throughput:
- Improving demand forecasting and stock posture by managing the throughput schedule, component bill of materiel, and ensuring an accurate replacement factor.
- Developing a kitting process that treats the “artisan as a surgeon.” The kitting process provides the artisan with a kit for each component with all parts that are replaced at least 10% of the time. This process eliminates 14 plus days of repair turnaround time for all parts, and 100 plus days delay for parts awaiting sub-routes. The goal is to pre-build six month’s worth of kits to ensure an adequate stock posture and a buffer that eliminates lead time by ensuring materiel is on hand prior to demand.
- Expediting is a force multiplier for any Supply Corps officer, and taking over the function of expediting addresses the long-pole shortages by managing all available solutions.
Immediate corrective actions included changes to demand forecasting (e.g. forecast update rate), kitting rollout, and placing shop-level expeditors to attack highest priority parts. Structural changes included management of materiel, longterm execution of activities, and setting the playbook for rollout of N41 and associated activities across all D-level FRCs.
Future initiatives include:
- Developing a comprehensive end-to-end materiel support infrastructure for test benches and equipment,
- Partnering with contracting activities to improve requirements development and streamline path to acquisition for critical requirements, and
- Information technology system changes to improve materiel traceability, reduce repair turnaround time, and provide enhanced transparency on all factors affecting component throughput.
I look forward to seeing the N41 position mature and become adopted across the other FRCs, enabling enhanced levels of materiel availability. This initiative is a critical Supply Corps contribution to aviation readiness. The skillsets we learn as SUPPOs are a natural fit for the industrial supply chain and add value through end-to-end logistics support.
I am thankful for my opportunity to have served in this capacity. I found my tour to be very rewarding and would encourage any SUPPO, passionate about component repair and materiel availability, to seek out this challenge.