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Research Synopsis

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Research Questions

  1. How can Global Combat Support System–Army Wave 2 data be leveraged to develop a diagnostic capability (similar to the equipment downtime analyzer), as part of the Materiel Common Operating Picture?
  2. How can Army managers better monitor and reduce CWT?

The U.S. Army maintenance process uses customer wait time (CWT) as a metric of the responsiveness of its order fulfillment process—i.e., the number of days to order a repair part and receive it. CWT requires close management because the order fulfillment process is subject to delays and disruption. The Army continually seeks to manage and reduce CWT, particularly for those repair parts that are needed to complete a repair and make a piece of Army equipment operational, mission capable, and available for use.

To help Army managers at all levels monitor and reduce CWT, the authors developed several metrics and visualizations that utilize data available in Global Combat Support System–Army, the Army's new enterprise resource planning system for logistics: three different sand charts to show the number of requisitions in each segment of the order fulfillment process; three different stacked bar charts to show the contribution of each segment to total CWT; the rifle chart (a new type of visualization) to show the start, end, and duration of every requisition; and the count of orders in process that are older than a particular threshold (a new metric).

The authors designed Tableau dashboards to facilitate implementation of the new metrics and visualizations. If the Army implements these tools, they will help managers monitor CWT, identify specific orders that were delayed and take action to expedite them, and identify negative trends in performance that signal a need for further diagnosis and intervention to help with process improvement.

Recommendations

  • The Logistics Support Activity should implement these new Tableau dashboards into the Materiel Common Operating Picture to help managers analyze CWT.
  • To reduce CWT, managers should focus on reducing the longest segment times.
  • The Army should set standards for duration and goals for decreasing the standard. These standard times should be short and should decline gradually over time.
  • Unit commanders should be accountable for reducing the maxima of these segments over time, as well as the variability.
  • To manage outbound delivery, the Army should use statistical process control, specifically on counts of requisitions with long outbound delivery times. An approach with statistical process control will provide an alert mechanism for unusually long outbound delivery times.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army Materiel Command and conducted by the Forces and Logistics Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.

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