Fourth in a Series January 2023
Marine Corps Stocklist 3 (SL-3) items are accessories or ancillary materiel that support the operation of a serialized end item asset. End item assets are designated by a Table of Authorized Materiel Control Number (TAMCN). For each TAMCN asset type accounted for within an armory, there is an SL-3 publication specific to that asset TAMCN.
Within an armory, it is not unusual for an asset TAMCN to have six to ten (or more) SL-3 items associated to the TAMCN per the SL-3 List of Components. Individual items may have multiple quantities. For example, the SL-3 for an M4 Carbine rifle has six different items on the List of Components. One of those items, a magazine lists a quantity of seven for each individual rifle.
Inventory control of SL-3 items is accomplished using the List of Components page from the applicable SL-3 publication. This page is commonly referred to as the SL-3 Extract. Inventories are either conducted as a batch inventory, where a single extract is used for all assets within a TAMCN, or an individual inventory where individual extracts are used for each serialized asset within a TAMCN.
All the inventory recording is hand-written and in pencil. The results are recorded in pencil so that updates can be made on the extract. Updates are usually related to items that are missing and placed on order, and then received. Inventories are most commonly conducted quarterly. Extracts are kept for one year from the first quarterly inventory recorded on the extract.
The quantities recorded via the batch method are the sum of all items either issued out, or on hand in the armory ready for issue. This method requires individually counting all the items listed on all the current NAVMC 10576 Memorandum Receipt for Individual Weapons and Accessories and all the items stored in the armory. This means that data is captured manually from numerous sources and then added and transferred to the extract. This is labor intensive and highly susceptible to errors.
There are at least three Marine Corps directives that prescribe how inventory control for SL-3 is to be performed. The directives specifically focus on the recording of inventory results. They do not place specific or general governance on how the results are managed other than the requirement to requisition missing or deficient items (and hand write service request data swivel chaired from GCSS-MC). There is no requirement to conduct any aggregation, analysis or reporting of trends or resource requirements that would result in a more comprehensive asset management approach.
The purpose of this paper is two-fold. First, to articulate the way Asset Information Management Solutions - Automated Armory (AIMS-AA) can improve the management, accountability, and inventory control of SL-3 items within Marine Corps armories. Secondly, to generate the advocacy needed to implement this initiative.
Art of the Possible
A range of Marine Corps armories currently use AIMS-AA, a commercial off the shelf product, to support armory operations, procedures, and standards. AIMS-AA is a process-based, digitized asset management solution, focused on the accountability of assets maintained and issued from secure, restricted, or limited access facilities. AIMS-AA’s capability provides compliance with the full array of distinctively regulated and directed standards for access, functional permissions, custody, and security.
The functionality of AIMS-AA purposefully adheres to orders, directives and manuals that control armory functions. Many of these controls are rooted in paper-based procedures. As such, efficiency, accountability, and security are constrained from the improvements, results, and adherence that can be provided by a modernized digitization tool.
In 2021, Troika began conducting a series of periodic surveys with customers to collect and analyze data to measure performance. Two primary components of the survey measure efficiency metrics and accountability and security benefits. A recent horizontal analysis of eight using organizations that were in their first year of using AIMS-AA has shown the following results.
· Average time efficiency improvements of 37% across seven metrics. Some organizations report improvements of 60-90% in individual metrics. Overall, using AIMS-AA has improved the time to issue out assets by 28%.Time to recover assets have improved by 37%, and time to initially assign assets has improved by 47%.
· Average accountability and security benefits improvements of 50% across nine metrics. (75% of surveyed organizations report significant improvement in the ability to quickly track and locate an unaccounted-for asset, (e.g., a discrepancy in a sight count or other inventory). 75% also report significant improvement in the ability to provide an audit of any or all transactions (e.g., traceability of assets leaving or entering the armory, or changing location within the armory.
AIMS has the unique advantage of improving accuracy and accountability while also providing time savings. While AIMS-AA is primarily focused on serialized assets, it can provide distinct asset management of non-serialized assets as well. At least one current AIMS-AA using organization has begun to explore the ability of AIMS-AA to meet and exceed inspection standards for the inventory control of SL-3 assets and expand inventory control to provide more comprehensive asset management.
What AIMS-AA Does – Digital Capabilities
AIMS-AA currently uses SL-3 extract data to digitally populate the assignment of SL-3 items on NAVMC 10576 forms. Doing this greatly increases the accuracy, legibility, and auditability of NAVMC 10576 data as well as greatly enhancing the efficiency of completing and maintaining this form for every serialized asset assigned and recovered by the armory.
The AIMS-AA capability to digitally produce a NAVMC 10576 provides a foundation for implementing digitized inventory control of SL-3. This capability expands asset management of SL-3 items from inventory control to a more comprehensive ability to provide situational awareness and decision support that improves readiness and costs. Examples of how AIMS-AA functionality can improve inventory control and asset management for SL-3 items include:
· Producing a digitized SL-3 extract for inventory that meets all inspection requirements. Conducting and reporting the inventory digitally is the key to providing full auditability.
· Eliminating all “side notes” used to capture interim counts before finalizing on the extract; eliminates all erasures while providing full auditability of captured data (for up to 10 years).
· Automatically rolling up and aggregating inventory counts. No need to swivel chair to transfer and add sub-quantities. This roll up can be listed or filtered by Table of Authorized Materiel Control Number (TAMCN), Stock Number (NSN or NIIN), stow location, issue status or funding type (SSRI, UURI, CM).
· Providing auto segmented counts of all SL-3 items assigned, issued, in stock on hand, on order, or awaiting funding.
· Providing real-time visibility of on hand and allowance comparisons.
· Scanning capability for inventory, issue, and recovery.
· Providing decision support capabilities to set and track metrics and conduct analysis (track usage/losses/purchases by asset, account, event, costs, etc.)
What AIMS-AA Improves - Process-Based Effectiveness and Efficiencies
AIMS-AA has developed a basic process model for digitized SL-3 inventory control and asset management. It is depicted in Figure 1. The activities shown on the left side of the graphic are the only ones currently directed. As shown in this model, the ultimate intent is to expand inventory control for SL-3 to a more comprehensive ability to provide situational awareness and decision support that improves readiness and reduces costs.
A breakdown of the activities has identified 23 primary tasks subordinate to the five activities. AIMS-AA has the capability to digitally perform 15 of these tasks. The other eight tasks are either non-automated, such as quality assurance, or relate to manual information exchange to or from GCSS-MC (which could automated).
Figure 1: SL-3 Inventory Control and Asset Management Process Model
Further analysis has been done with a current AIMS-AA using organization that performs Activities 3-5 manually via spreadsheets. In comparing labor and time requirements of a current process that is predominantly paper based with an AIMS-AA process that is nearly entirely digitized, the sum monthly total to perform all 23 tasks currently accomplished manually is 556 manhours per month. Using AIMS-AA to digitally perform 15 of those 23 tasks, the sum total to perform these tasks manually is reduced to 309 monthly manhours, a savings of 56%.
Current SL-3 inventory control requirements are labor intensive and produce reams of paperwork. AIMS-AA virtually eliminates all paper – no side notes before final count is recorded, no erasures, no legibility issues. Every time changes are made on paper, and every swivel chair action impacts accuracy. Every roll up further compounds the accuracy challenge. This can all be overcome with a digital solution currently available.
AIMS-AA has the capability to expand SL-3 management to encompass not just inventory control but comprehensive asset management. This expansion in capability reduces the time and resources to conduct required inventories, provides better accountability and auditability (and legibility), and establishes a thorough ability to provide situational awareness and decision support necessary to improve readiness and reduce costs.
Digitizing the inventory control process for ordnance SL-3 complements other initiatives intended to simplify the accounting of ordnance SL-3 items. For accountability and funding purposes, SL-3 items are divided into one of three categories: Supply System Responsibility Items (SSRI), Using Unit Responsibility Items (UURI), or Collateral Materiel (CM). Such initiatives focus on reducing the costs of maintaining the SL-3 inventory by reclassifying SSRI and CM as UURI. The reduces the number of items to be maintained and inventoried, thus saving time and money without sacrificing readiness.
A comprehensive solution combines digitization and reclassification. Digitization could expand and improve inventory control while reducing labor resources by 56%. Reclassification has projected a 36% cost reduction of materiel resources. Implementation of these two initiatives should be considered in tandem and requires broad advocacy within the ordnance community.
Because SL-3 items are not serialized, are expansive in numbers of types and quantities, and mostly low cost, losses and replacement requisitions are not highly visible. But in aggregation, costs and resources can be significant. The visibility and analysis data to identify and manage the costs and resources requires the implementation of a comprehensive, digitized asset management capability.
Required or Supporting Actions
A change to Marine Corps policy is needed to allow AIMS-AA to be used for recording SL-3 inventory results. The explicit policy change would allow a digitized extract to be used. The policy wording could be similar to the authorization in TM-4700-15/1H regarding the use of automated system for NAVMC 10576 that says, “An automated system may be used providing the automated system contains the same information required by the manual system”.
The ordnance and supply communities should advocate for the expansion of inventory control to include a more comprehensive asset management approach, focuses on aggregation, analysis or reporting of trends or resource requirements to reduce costs, improve efficiencies, and improve readiness.
AIMS-AA data import and export functionality can transfer data from GCSS-MC but requires some manipulation. Ideally, AIMS-AA would be interoperable with GCSS-MC to have a seamless digital transfer of the transactional data for SL-3 requisitions.
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