March 22, 2013 -- By Jim Katzaman, MCSC Corporate Communications
Loss of manufacturer or supplier’s items or raw materials is nothing new. The military services and private industry have worked together on this problem for decades, dating from ballistic missile systems development in the 1950s. Potential shortages take on greater importance with today’s ever tighter defense budgets and greater emphasis on affordability and efficiency.
Each military service has a watchdog for Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages, known as DMSMS. For the Marine Corps, the DMSMS point of contact is Matthew Carlstrom of Marine Corps Systems Command’s Acquisition Logistics and Product Support in Albany, Ga. He is the Marine Corps representative on the Department of Defense DMSMS working group and co-chairs the Corps’ DMSMS working group. The working group is in the final stages of developing a draft Marine Corps Order for DMSMS that will establish policy and assign responsibilities for proactive DMSMS Management throughout Total Life Cycle Systems Management within the Corps.
“DMSMS is a problem with several issues,” Carlstrom said. “A primary concern is the ongoing improvement in technology. As new products are designed, technology used in their predecessors becomes outdated. That makes it more difficult to repair the equipment.”
He noted that mechanical parts might be harder to acquire because fewer are produced as the demand for these parts decreases. Also, materials needed to manufacture a piece of equipment might no longer be readily available.
According to the Defense Standardization Program Office, DOD strategic goals include increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of developing, producing, testing and sustaining systems so that required warfighter capabilities are available. These vital affordability initiatives include the study of cost drivers based upon design and lifecycle sustainment decisions. Innovative DMSMS and standardization tools can help demonstrate the effects of design choices upon reliability and readiness during operations and support. The challenges include obsolescence, standardization, counterfeiting, parts management, data sharing and many other related technical issues.
Carlstrom explained that obsolescence refers to a lack of availability due to statutory and process changes, as well as new designs. “DMSMS and obsolescence adversely affect total life cycle management,” he said. “Proactive planning, process implementation, monitoring, analysis and budgeting are all necessary to mitigate the impacts of DMSMS and obsolescence to reduce TLCM costs.”
This led to the development of the Marine Corps Module of DOD’s Shared Data Warehouse, a tool of the Government-Industry Data Exchange Program. The warehouse is managed by Defense Logistics Agency’s Defense Supply Center in Columbus, Ohio.
“The DMS Shared Data Warehouse improves sustainability of weapon systems by reducing the impact of diminishing manufacturing sources,” Carlstrom said. “The Shared Data Warehouse gives us a systematic, single methodology to process notices of discontinuance. It also facilitates a central repository for DMS management within DOD.”
The Marine Corps module of the Shared Data Warehouse was approved and activated in September 2011. Coordination with Marine Corps Logistics Command is critical for successful DMSMS management, Carlstrom explained. Marine Corps Logistics Command, Logistics Capability Center is responsible for maintenance and sustainment of the module. Steven Williams of Marine Corps Logistics Command, Logistics Services Management Center, is case manager for the Marine Corps Module and the focal point for DMSMS alerts. Initial research done by the case manager confirms that the Marine Corps is a registered user of the national stock numbers identified.
The case manager selects the material manager, equipment specialist and logistics management specialist to be assigned to a case. Each plays a role in finding a recommended source, which might include a life-of-type buy, alternate source, replacement part or redesign. Ultimately, the logistics management specialist approves the recommended solution and provides it to the case manager.
By applying business process evaluation practices that augment existing diminishing manufacturing sources screening processes, according to Carlstrom, the DMS Shared Data Warehouse provides rapid, economical identification, dissemination and processing of diminishing manufacturing sources’ part numbers and national stock numbers. That tracking will help the Marine Corps stay ahead of and counter any item shortages before they strike.
“The ability to share this information, both within DOD and with industry, is crucial,” Carlstrom said. “It gives obsolescence managers the resources they need to address imminent critical parts issues and to plan proactively. Our strategy through the Shared Data Warehouse is to integrate these operations and provide a single source for all military services, industry and foreign military sales partners to obtain information and solutions for DMSMS issues.”
In the final analysis, Carlstrom said, the cost-benefit rewards government and industry alike.