Creating a Single Army Logistics Enterprise

December 13, 2004 by admin

Based in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, U.S.A., AMC has operations in more than 40 U.S. states and more than 39 countries around the world. It takes some 50,000 dedicated AMC employees as well as state-of-the-art technology and supply chain processes to ensure that troops have everything they need, from helmets to helicopters to food. The Army’s logistics systems work well, keeping troops geared up and at peak readiness. But with an eye toward modernization, the Army is moving down the path toward creation of a comprehensive SAP-based “Single Army Logistics Enterprise” (SALE). The first implementation of the SALE has begun at the national level with pilot implementations at Communications and Electronics Command (CECOM), Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania, AMC headquarters and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) in Indianapolis.

Three ongoing projects

The original impetus to create SALE came in the mid-90s when AMC was tasked with the implementation of best-of-breed logistics technologies and business processes. Today, AMC is in the midst of a complete transformation of its logistic system into one integrated supply system. A huge and multi-faceted task, SALE is expected to be complete by 2007. “We are looking at true horizontal and vertical integration of our business processes from factory to foxhole,” said Ronald Lewis, AMC’s Deputy G-3 for Enterprise Integration.
There are three projects ongoing that serve as the foundation for SALE: The Logistics Modernization Program (LMP) incorporates fixed maintenance and supply installations. The Global Combat Support System Army (GCSS Army) is the link to troops in the field. The Product Lifecycle Management Plus (PLM+) is a single source for master data that uses SAP NetWeaver Web-centric technology to communicate with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and link to other important external and internal components of the supply chain. When complete each project will contribute crucial functionality to handle specific mission-critical tasks within SALE, such as supply chain planning, sales and distribution, budget and finance and others. Lewis says SAP was chosen as the ERP tool based upon input received from system integrators who recommended SAP as the best value to the government.

LMP leads the way

The LMP project is furthest along, Lewis says. It went live as a pilot in July 2003 with some 4,500 users and is now rolling out nationally to about 15,000 users. Soon, it will replace AMC’s Commodity Command Standard System (CCSS), which supports inventory control, repair and buy decisions, planning and budgeting, and its Standard Depot System (SDS), which supports depot maintenance, property accountability, ammunition management, facilities management and financial management functions.
The problem is not that CCSS and SDS did not work. They did, says Lewis. But they aren’t up to the Army’s new standards, “where there is a premium on both efficiency and effectiveness – being more cost-effective, agile, responsive, and easier to maintain,” he said. “From a technological viewpoint, the systems operated on 25-year-old technology with 30-year-old processes,” he said. “From a user perspective, the systems could be characterized as employing obsolete screens and multiple logons with information that was not readily available or real-time, replete with data redundancies, without standards, subject to poor edits, and where critical reports were available only as paper printouts,” he said.

With LMP, much will be different and improved. LMP consists of SAP R/3 at the core, and includes Sales and Distribution (SD), Materiel Management (MM), Production Planning (PP), and Financial (FI) modules. It also includes SAP Strategic Enterprise Management (SAP SEM), SAP Advanced Planner and Optimizer (SAP APO), SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW) and SAP Asset and Work Management. Lewis lists a slate of benefits the Army expects from LMP. “With respect to supply chain planning, LMP will provide enhanced demand planning with a range of different forecasting techniques. It will also provide the establishment and execution of monthly supply planning events,” he said.
“Where maintenance processes are concerned, LMP will provide enhanced capabilities and oversight of depot maintenance programs for item managers and project leaders. It will increase the Army’s ability to track man hours and dollars extended by the repair program. It will provide detailed, accurate forecasting capabilities for programs partially funded throughout a government fiscal year. And it will enable greater collaboration between item managers, project leaders and repair facilities, so they can accurately forecast and execute programs,” he said.

SALE on the horizon

In the end the Army’s SALE system will incorporate all fixed-base facilities, including depots, arsenals, acquisition centers and installations. It will also include all deployed resources, such as corps, divisions, brigades and battalions, right down to individual troops. Like the predecessor to LMP, the systems that GCSS will replace use many different legacy applications that will be phased out and migrated to SAP. The PLM+ system, which Lewis calls the “major data manager of information,” will employ mySAP product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and SAP NetWeaver. It will handle both tactical data management and product and plant management. Migrating to SAP, Lewis said, “is going to be a tremendous step forward to be able to locate, analyze and react to the right information at the right time.”
“These components will give us the effective integration, both on the national level and the field level, so that we have our business processes all centralized on the management of master data,” Lewis said. “It gives us optimized mission capability across the enterprise.” The complete SALE system will provide the Army with crucial efficiencies, such as quicker response times for performance analysis and decision making, improved weapons systems management, improved demand planning and consolidation of inventory records.
When SAP is fully deployed, Lewis lists some expected benefits:

  • <sum> Improvement to on-time readiness and customer satisfaction.
  • <sum> Better visibility into global assets and financial data.
  • <sum> A more agile, responsive logistics infrastructure.
  • <sum> Greater efficiency in systems operations and improvement to system maintainability, adaptability and scalability.

Lewis says the Army pays careful attention to change management and has strong buy-in from leadership, which helps make the projects successful. The Army also keeps in close contact with the other branches of the U.S. military doing SAP implementations too, such as the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy. In addition to the many operational benefits, SALE will contribute cost efficiency. As part of the implementation, the Army is developing a process to track all Army technology investments. It’s part of the overall commitment to streamlined logistics systems that will serve the Army far into the future. “What we are trying to do is measure our IT investments in a wiser fashion than in the past,” Lewis said.

Sarah Z. Sleeper

Sarah Z. Sleeper

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