By Heather Wilburn, Fleet Readiness Center East
CHERRY POINT — When it comes to meeting the needs of the warfighter, Fleet Readiness Center East has made strides in focusing efforts on critical needs and reducing the wait for high-priority items.
By incorporating process changes and data visualization tools, the facility has reduced accountable backorders by 76% and high-priority backorders by 77% since the start of fiscal year 2019, according to officials.
“We’re improving our delivery of high-priority items to the fleet, which is increasing readiness on the user end,” FRC East Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Nieto said.
Melissa Churchill, Performance Operations Division director with FRC East’s Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Production Department, said putting an emphasis on fulfilling accountable backorders and high-priority backorders has yielded great results in terms of meeting the requirements of the nation’s Navy and Marine Corps aviators.
“The bottom line is that we’ve been able to focus on the items the fleet really needs, and do a much better job returning those items,” she said. “It makes a huge impact on readiness.”
In order for an item to be considered an accountable backorder, it must fall within certain parameters, Ms. Churchill said. The item must be funded through Naval Supply Weapon Systems Support and there must be a part available for induction and repair. An item becomes a high-priority backorder – an Issue Priority Group 1, or IPG-1 – based on a force activity designator, which is a classification assigned in relation to several factors, including the requesting unit’s deployability.
The positive downward trend began with the introduction of Naval Sustainment System initiatives at FRC East during the fall of 2018, Ms. Churchill said. At the beginning of October of that year, accountable backorders sat at 2,235 and IPG-1s sat at 447. One of the changes brought about by NSS – daily “tier” meetings that start at the shop level and extend through the department level – helped bring together the right stakeholders to tackle the inhibitors causing delays.
“The focus on what we need to produce these parts, on a daily and weekly basis, is what has really driven these numbers down,” Ms. Churchill noted.
At the Tier 1 level, shop supervisors meet with representatives from Defense Logistics Agency Aviation at Cherry Point, facilities and maintenance, engineering and other areas that support production and problem-solving. Integrating DLA Aviation at Cherry Point into the process has made a difference in FRC East’s ability to deliver on the high-priority backorders, Ms. Churchill explained.
“DLA has been instrumental in this entire effort,” she said. “We’ve worked really closely with DLA to focus on these high-priority back orders and identify the specific parts that are the material inhibitors for producing those components.”
The new process initiatives instituted by FRC East have had a positive effect on DLA Aviation at Cherry Point’s ability to support production, said Isaac May, the activity’s commander. He said his organization has developed and improved numerous tools and engagements aimed at preventing backorders. It also created an operations cell focused on the largest planning and material management issues by portfolio that leverages unique elevation avenues within DLA supply chain procurement teams and industry.
Ms. Churchill said she expects the focus on high-priority backorders to continue through 2021.
“I think our next goal is to keep reducing the number of IPG-1s,” she said. “Ideally we’ll get to the point where any component that has even one IPG-1, we’re looking at the exact status of what we’ve got in work right now, and what we need to finish it. I think that’s always the goal.”
Ms. Churchill said FRC East’s most important priority remains delivering quality products when the warfighter needs them most.
“We’re here to ensure the squadrons and the wings are getting what they need to maintain readiness,” she explained. “The goal is that, at the end of the day, we have given them what they need.”