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Improved Inventory Policy Contributes to Equipment Readiness

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Research note

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When Army equipment fails, the speed with which maintainers can restore it to mission-ready condition depends critically on the availability of needed spare parts. As Army inventory managers decide which spare parts to stock in their deployable Supply Support Activities SSAs, they must balance performance goals against cost and mobility constraints. On the one hand, a massive inventory could potentially fill a large proportion of customer demands on the other hand, the cost and mobility constraints of such an inventory would be prohibitive. To manage the tradeoff, the Army has used an algorithm that tracks customer demands in order to compute which items and how many of each to stock. Unfortunately, the Armys satisfaction with this algorithm diminished overtime. Too often Army maintainers found that the parts they needed were not stocked locally, which could mean lengthy delays of days to months as parts were requested from other sources. Long customer wait times frequently resulted in longer repair cycle times. They could also increase workloads if maintainers chose to work around a problem by removing needed parts from other pieces of downed equipment. When no workaround was possible, repairs could not be completed until all needed parts had arrived, thus hurting equipment readiness. It became apparent that the algorithm was not well-suited to the kinds of demand patterns generated by the variable operational tempo of deployed Army units. Moreover, commercial developments in inventory management suggested that better performance could be achieved.

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  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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