Sixth in a Series September 2023
Customer-driven AIMS capabilities have been focused on transactional and management functions related to accountability. As the range of users expands, Troika recognizes a need and opportunity to broaden AIMS capabilities to include decision support with associated analytics and visualization tools to provide asset management more holistically.
AIMS-Automated Armory (AIMS-AA) is Troika’s flagship module currently deployed in multiple Marine Corps and Navy armories within United States and overseas. AIMS-AA digitizes the processes and procedures related to the accountability, inventory, assignment, issue/draw, receipt, recovery, and reporting for serialized and non-serialized weapons, optics, and associated SL-3 and ancillary ordnance equipment. It is specifically designed to meet the regulations and standards of accountability related to an armory. This includes accountability of access and permission-based transactions.
Our Marine Corps and Navy customers are an integration of three customer components. An analytics and decision support capability that leverages AIMS’ transactional functions is key to fully integrating these three customer components.
· The first customer component is the armory personnel that includes armorers and custodians working day-to-day within the armory. They need knowledge and insight that balances training and operational tempo requirements with the ability to comply with and adhere to stringent armory processes, procedures, and regulations. This component establishes the baseline for readiness and availability of hundreds of serialized and non-serialized assets.
· The second customer component consists of the Marines and Sailors who are the weapons operators. Armory processes, procedures, and regulations need to resolve the “hurry up and wait” paradigm so they can maximize their training and operations tempo. This component is the focal point for reliability and responsiveness.
· The third customer component is leadership. At the tactical level, leadership needs confidence and assurance of compliance. They must be engaged in the processes without having to be involved in the transactional procedures. Compliance is fundamental to avoiding incidents that take away from the duties to maintain and support the weapons operators. At the operational and strategic level, they need timely and accurate information to balance limited assets and resources with unlimited requirements and make timely and effective adjustments. This component is the focal point for resources and costs.
Art of the Possible
AIMS-AA vastly increases the collection and availability of digitized data as it relates specifically to armory assets. This starts with the initiating and fulfillment of functional transactions and extends to management and decision support. AIMS-AA enables situational awareness and decision support to be digitized capabilities. This “digital persistence” provides greater logistics responsiveness and greater operational agility.
AIMS does this by increasing the speed and accuracy of data collection and data analysis. It provides richer context and completeness of the data being analyzed and subsequently used for decision-making. It eliminates the data gaps in the process from collection to decision-making. Simultaneously it provides the ability to synthesize a greater volume of data more rapidly for decision making. This is critically important when the operator employs in numerous small teams, is highly dispersed, and must be sustained across vast distances with the smallest possible footprint.
Troika has begun development and implementation of a holistic approach for an analytics and decision support capability that integrates the three customer components. The approach has two development implementation phases:
· Phase I establishes a set of Leadership Dashboards that supports and enhances the daily operational requirements of an armory.
· Phase II establishes a set of Life-cycle Management Dashboards that integrates the digitized transactional data inherent to AIMS-AA with common operational metrics to support analytics and decision support related to life cycle management.
What AIMS Does – Digital Capabilities
Phase I: Leadership Dashboards
Based on Troika surveys, AIMS-AA has proven to be very popular with and actively used by the armorers and custodians involved in the daily transactional operations of the armory (assign, issue, etc.). The surveys also show that there is a significant drop off in the use of AIMS-AA at the leadership level.
Armory leadership above the rank of sergeant or E-5 seldom log onto AIMS-AA. (For general purposes, armory leadership is considered an Officer in Charge (OIC), a Staff Non-commissioned Officer in Charge (SNCOIC), an S-4 logistics officer, or a Responsible Officer (RO)). For the purposes of this article these billets will simply be referred to as leadership.
This drop off raises two concerns. First, the lack of use by leadership makes them less likely to be able to provide directions, corrections, training, or mentorship on the use of AIMS-AA for their armorers and custodians. Second, the lack of “log on” time for leadership means that they underutilize AIMS-AA as it relates to their management and leadership responsibilities, particularly as it pertains to situational awareness and decision-making.
The intent is to get leadership to regularly log on to AIMS-AA, and to use specific functionality most closely related to their responsibilities. To do this, Troika has designed a set of Leadership Dashboards that provide a view of common everyday functional use as well as views that identify potential problems before they become real problems.
· The Entry Log Dashboard provides leadership visibility of who is logging on to AIMS-AA. It provides a view of the current day and a previous selection of days (i.e., last seven days or last 30 days, etc.).
· The Sight Count Dashboard provides leadership visibility of who has conducted and recorded daily Sight Counts in AIMS-AA. It provides a view of the current day and a previous selection of days (i.e., last seven days or last 30 days, etc.).
· The Permissions and Roles Dashboard is intended to ensure AIMS-AA transactions can only be performed by personnel that have the training and authority to perform the transaction. This is an important security feature of AIMS-AA.
· The ECR Status Dashboard provides visibility of all ECRs that currently have assets checked out. The dashboard is specifically intended to provide visibility of those ECRs that are approaching or have passed allowable the 30-day limit for ECRs.
The SL-3 Shortages Dashboard provides a ready view of shortages as they occur, and digitized traceability to causes in real-time. This is especially important when shortages are due to losses. Because losses generally occur in small batches over an extended amount of time, they are not readily noticed. But over time they can quickly add up to significant costs. Figure 1 below shows a depiction of the SL-3 Shortages dashboard.
Figure 1: SL-3 Shortages Dashboard
Phase II: Life-Cycle Management Dashboards
For Phase II, Troika identified a set of metrics to use for life-cycle management of armory assets. Troika intends to expand our visualization and decision support to include analysis of these metrics. Using these metrics as a baseline we conducted a data mapping exercise to confirm that AIMS captures the requisite transactional data digitally, and with the fidelity to conduct analytics.
From the mapping exercise, Troika developed an initial set of wireframes and graphics to show what data is required for an individual metric and how that AIMS-AA data could then be depicted in a visualization tool. The wireframe dashboards were constructed to depict two images for each metric – a current snapshot of performance, and a timeline trend over a specified period.
Our concept includes the following performance management visualizations:
· Assessment History – shows Assessment (or Inspection) Results by selected categories such as Pass, Pass with Repairs, or Fail.
· Readiness/Available Assets – shows Readiness and Available Assets by selected categories of assets or organizational accounts.
· Inventory Status – shows status of account/sub-account inventories conducted or past due.
· Repair Parts – shows repair part usage and association to asset types or individual serialized assets.
Figure 2 below shows the visualization for Assessment History, with the current snapshot on the left and the timeline trend on the right.
Figure 2: Assessment History Dashboard
Our concept for this is a collaborative effort with Redhorse. Redhorse is a digital transformation company that provides technology and engineering services focused on changing the way the Government interacts with and utilizes data and technology.
Our concept is to blend the functional asset management data that AIMS-AA digitally collects, maintains, and contextualizes with the performance management and decision support analytics and tools that Redhorse is known for. We intend to utilize a set of life-cycle sustainment metrics using AIMS data and display the metrics and the resulting analytics in a visualization tool provided by Redhorse.
What AIMS Improves: Execution, Situational Awareness, and Decision-making
The Leadership Dashboards enable leadership to be more fully aware of how regularly and effectively subordinates are using AIMS-AA. The Leadership Dashboards improve operations and management. This capability enables any level of leadership to view the status of certain daily functions he/she would be most interested in.
The intended outcome is for better leadership for armorers and custodians as well as greater improvements in efficiency, accountability, and security for the organization. Leadership will be more comfortable helping the junior personnel in training or overcoming an issue, and more likely to know when the application is not being used by their junior charges.
Besides building leadership involvement, implementing Leadership Dashboards also sets the stage for expanded analytics and decision making. An analytics and decision support capability within this holistic approach is key to fully integrating the three customer components previously listed.
Demonstrating the utility of a life-cycle management decision support capability specifically for armory management is possible. This capability, focused on assessments, maintenance, inventory, accountability, and security, responds to the operational needs of the three customer components addressed above by:
· Providing the knowledge and insight that balances training and operational tempo requirements with the ability to comply with and adhere to stringent armory processes, procedures, and regulations.
· Maximizing training and operations time and ensures availability and reliability of mission critical assets.
· Providing timely and accurate information to make effective decisions for prioritization, allocation, and execution adjustment of constrained resources and thus balance limited assets and resources with unlimited requirements.
Our concept for implementation of analytics and decision support starts with the four life-cycle visualization dashboards described above. Adding the collaboration between Troika’s AIMS-AA product and Redhorse’s analytics and decision-support capabilities capability also enables execution monitoring (e.g., with alerts) and resource planning (e.g., scheduling). Ultimately, it is possible to expand to other metrics such as:
· Cost to repair over time. We can combine this data with other data for statistical analysis that shows how we can save customer money over time.
· Weapon Shot counts for predictive maintenance. Operational use (e.g., shot count) and maintenance records can help maximize supply planning (saving space in shipping and preposition logistics as we reduce downtime; instead of carrying around spare parts, units can carry more ammo).
Required or Supporting Actions
Troika is currently developing the Leadership Dashboards listed above. Implementation requires no changes to policies or directives. The use of Leadership Dashboards will require specific training which we will add to our syllabus.
Development and implementation of the Life-cycle Management Dashboards requires a partner organization that can provide operational data to support the designated metrics. The data for these metrics are derived from maintenance activities. While AIMS-AA has a maintenance module, our current customers do not use this module due to enterprise policies. Thus, the quantity and type of data we currently possess is very limited.
AIMS-AA is more than an automated transactional tool for armorers and armory custodians. As a process-based, digitized, holistic asset management solution, customized to fit the customer’s specific requirements, it provides a range of capabilities that extends to analytics and decision support.
By extending this range to Leadership Dashboards and Life-cycle Management Dashboards, AIMS-AA integrates the transactional, management, analytics, and decision-making needs of armory personnel, weapons operators, and leadership. AIMS-AA makes it possible to improve readiness, availability, training time, and accountability for any event, exercise, or operation that requires armory assets.
Troika welcomes feedback and suggestions related to this article. Feedback can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.