Speeding the Flow: How the Army Cut Order-and-Ship Time
Jan 1, 1998
Streamlining the Army's Supply Chain
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In June 1998, U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the National Partnership for Reinventing Government presented a team of Army logisticians and RAND analysts the Hammer Award in recognition of a great accomplishment: making Army logistics work better and cost less. This report documents that achievement. Started in 1995, the Army's Velocity Management (VM) initiative sought to improve the responsiveness, reliability, and efficiency of the Army's then outdated logistics systems. Since then the Army has dramatically streamlined its supply process, cutting order and ship times for repair parts by 75 percent at all major installations and by 50 percent nationwide. Building on the story of VM's success, the author demonstrates how this simple yet powerful process improvement methodology has transformed the Army's supply system into a set of customer-focused processes honed to deliver supplies where they are needed, when they are needed. An organizational structure made up of senior Army leadership, site and process improvement teams, and continuing analytic support from RAND catalyzed the institutionalization of this cultural change; VM's Define-Measure-Improve methodology sustained it. At each installation, simple rules such as clear the floor each day helped slash processing delays. The performance of each segment was also measured, with immediate and specific feedback on how to improve. The implementation and optimization of a reliable high-volume distribution system proved instrumental in providing the Army with premium-level service that is faster, better, and cheaper. As a result, Army customers now routinely receive the quick and dependable level of service they have come to expect from a high-performing commercial supply chain.
Institutionalizing the Velocity Management Paradigm
Defining the Supply Process
Measuring Supply Performance
Improving Order and Ship Times
Steps for Further Acceleration
The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's Arroyo Center division.
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