“It’s always in the last place you look.” That’s a common reflection when you misplace something important – and it usually conveys that you had to look in multiple places to find the item. If it’s your car keys, it might be said with some annoyance. If it’s your wallet, it might come after a little sense of panic.
But what if the misplaced item is a weapon or ammunition? Then it is usually said after an all-hands-on deck-upheaval. Once the items are found, it may still mean investigative or disciplinary action.
What if the last place you look is also the first place you look? Troika Solutions provides an asset management solution that makes that happen.
The functionality of Asset Information Management Solutions (AIMS) includes the capability to more precisely and effectively account for the custody, location, and status of assets that require the highest degree of control, such as weapons and ammunition. In doing so, the AIMS Automated Armory (AIMS-AA) module provides complete visibility and auditability of every transactional event such as changes effecting custody, location, and status.
Digital auditability means no more paper log books, receipt folders, whiteboards, or desk drawers that need to be searched through to find an asset. All the audit data on an asset is in one place, easily searchable by multiple criteria, and includes all the associated pedigree audit data.
Two examples bear this out. The first is a common occurrence that impacts time and efficiency. The second is less common, but much more impactful regarding security, responsibility, and accountability.
When Troika installs AIMS-AA at an organizational armory, all asset data is entered into the AIMS-AA database via an export from the organization’s authoritative property system of record (APSR). For Marine Corps armories, the data comes from the Consolidated Memorandum Receipt (CMR) provided by GCSS-MC. Initially, the data (NSN, Nomenclature, Serial Number, etc.) is assigned to a single notional stow location in AIMS-AA (for simplicity the location is designated as Rack Z). An initial reconciliation is then conducted whereby every asset has its serial number read (either via an IUID scan or physical reading) and as this is done, the actual stow location is aligned in AIMS-AA.
A typical installation reconciliation involves 2000-4000 serialized assets and takes 1-3 days. The reconciliation confirms that all the assets listed on the CMR are accounted for physically and in AIMS-AA. The reconciliation is settled when there are no longer any assets in Rack Z.
For nearly every installation that Troika has conducted, there are always a handful of assets (typically 5-10) that remain in Rack Z. This is where the search begins - the box that holds the ECR cards, the whiteboard that says what’s been evacuated to 3rd echelon maintenance, an armorer’s personal Excel file, and the Green Logbook. The first half dozen unaccounted assets usually turn up in the first hour or so. The last three or four can take a lot longer. Frustration and anxiety become palatable.
This is where AIMS-AA kicks in. After the evacs and temp loans have been checked, the last couple of unaccounted items are often assets that have been kitted, such as optics to a weapon. AIMS-AA provides several different ways to do a search where the item might be. Very often the unaccounted asset was missed in the stow alignment because of a distraction or a break in the action. Within seconds, AIMS-AA’s ability to easily search using multiple criteria can pin-point the location.
This reconciliation only needs to occur once – at installation. Afterwards, every issue, check out, check in, recovery, temp loan, or transfer is captured in AIMS, creating and maintaining a digital audit trail.
Current Marine Corps regulations do not allow for AIMS-AA to be solely used for serialized inventories. Yet in post installation surveys, AIMS-AA users report an average time savings of 23% in the conduct of serialized inventories, with some organizations reporting the time savings as high as 50%. This is directly attributable to using AIMS-AA to track down those last 5-10 assets and not spending hours looking for that “last place.” AIMS is not authorized to conduct the inventory (even though it has that capability and is vastly more efficient), but it is being used as the single, reliable source for the search.
Security and Accountability
AIMS-AA also tracks and accounts for non-serialized items such as SL-3 and ammunition. In this regard it provides comprehensive visibility of stocks and a digitized chain of custody.
An organization that uses AIMS-AA recently found out the benefits of such asset information management the hard way. In preparing for an upcoming field exercise, an armorer took custody of 90 rounds of 5.56mm ammo for security of weapons that were to be stowed in the field for the exercise.
Even though the ammo was accounted for in AIMS-AA and on the daily sight count that AIMS-AA produces, the new custody was not performed via AIMS-AA. Rather, it was done on paper. If the custody had been performed in AIMS-AA there would have been a digital audit trail produced and the sight count would have been automatically adjusted.
The organization did not take AIMS-AA to the field, even though it has that capability. Subsequent sight counts were performed on paper rather than in AIMS-AA as they had been, and the paper trail did not include the security ammunition.
The ammunition was allegedly further sub-custodied to another individual via the traditional Green Logbook. Sixty of the ninety (90) rounds eventually went missing. In conducting the search, the organizations involved had no reliable audit trail, and even the sub-custody action was disputed.
An extensive physical search eventually found the missing rounds. The organization involved reports that they are now using AIMS-AA much more extensively.
AIMS-AA can’t guarantee that assets will never become lost, missing, or unaccounted for – but when these events do happen, AIMS-AA can provide the truest possible audit trail. As shown with the reconciliation example, this greatly minimizes the time spent searching for the asset. In the accountability example, AIMS-AA provides the ability to impact and correct responsibilities and procedures that improve the effectiveness of an organization’s accountability, security processes, and compliance.
In performance surveys, 75% of AIMS-AA users report improvement in metrics related to the time it takes to locate unaccounted for assets. Similarly, 75% of users report improvement in the ability to provide an audit of all transactions and separately the ability to provide an audit of personnel that have gained access to the armory.
With AIMS, the first place you look is the last place you look.