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The Art of the Possible – Improving the Effectiveness of Pre-Fire Inspections

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

This is the first of a series of articles to come.

Current Situation

Per Marine Corps Technical Instruction (TI) 8005-24/20I, Pre-Fire Inspections (PFIs) are required on weapons prior to use for marksmanship qualification/requalification, and within a period up to 30 days prior to live fire for all exercises and operations. PFIs are conducted to detect and prevent hazards to personnel and equipment and to ensure that the weapon systems are accurate and reliable. PFIs are a form of Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services (PMCS).

PFIs must be performed by a qualified armorer. They are typically conducted in bulk batches such as for a rifle range detail, a platoon preparing for a live fire exercise, or a battalion preparing for a deployment. Armorers are authorized to use a single GCSS-MC service request (SR) to capture PFI results for multiple serial numbers of the same weapon type. Individual weapons that fail a PFI must each subsequently have a separate SR opened to request and record the appropriate corrective maintenance.

Typically, armories use a locally produced PFI sheet to manually capture data from a PFI. This data includes serial number, a condition code, the name of the inspector, and the date. Some data may be typed into the form ahead of time via an MS Office product, although often it is hand-written. When the PFI is complete, the SR is opened in GCSS-MC and the form is scanned and electronically attached as a notes page to the SR.

This current method means recording and capturing PFI data is a four-step procedure - typing or writing pre-PFI data on the form, manually capturing the results, scanning the final results, and opening the SR in GCSS-MC and attaching the pdf.

Our observation and experiences note that bulk PFIs are often a hasty effort. Checks are properly and diligently conducted. But most if not all the data is hastily written, serial numbers are thus hard to read, there are almost no checks and balances to legibility, and the data is never used again after the firing exercise.

Under this method it is very difficult to associate or trace results via specific serial numbers. Any data search or analysis requires knowing specific PFI SR dates. Evaluating metrics based on serial numbers or weapon types is difficult, cumbersome, and requires manual intervention. The same is true for analyzing life cycle data, or even analysis of PFI outcomes based on how many weapons typically fail a PFI or require subsequent corrective maintenance. All this also makes it very difficult to ensure that the desired data is complete outside of analyzing any singular SR.

Organizations have no readily available method to track if there are trends for PFI failures related to parts, events, organization, inspecting official, or other data sets. Unless the armory keeps a hard copy of the PFI local form worksheet, they have no readily available visibility of past PFIs.

Art of the Possible

What AIMS-AA Does

AIMS-AA can digitally batch PFIs of an entire battalion’s serial numbers across all weapon or asset types. The PFIs are pre-formatted. All data is captured digitally, including signatures which means there are no legibility or accuracy issues. Results can be sorted, filtered, grouped, and searched by weapon type, inspecting official, inspection results/conditions, organization, and dates. Results can also be digitally provided in a report or an exportable file. What AIMS-AA Improves

Efficiency and accuracy are improved because AIMS-AA eliminates all hand-written data capture for PFIs, and because it reduces the number of steps in the PFI procedure. Pre-formatting the data capture saves time and provides consistency.

Accountability is improved because an array of data becomes easily accessible for trends and performance analysis. The data is easily associated to and searchable by serial number, weapon type, inspecting official, date, organization, among other data fields. This data analysis is easily usable for process improvements, planning, life-cycle analysis, or investigations. Accountability is also improved because when a weapon is transferred for a short term or permanently, the receiving organization has access to the historical data if they are also using AIMS-AA.

The analytics that can be produced by AIMS-AA for PFIs can be crafted into reports that are provided to appropriate staff officers at a command level. From these reports, command staff can conduct further horizontal analysis to identify trends and performance across the command.

AIMS-AA’s PFI functionality also improves a using organization’s efficiency in preparing for inspections such as Field Supply Maintenance Analysis Office (FSMAO) visits and Commanding General’s Readiness Inspections (CGRI), as well as other inspections related to accountability. The ability to easily and quickly search and access digitized forms and results of PFIs, to include identifying weapons that subsequently required corrective maintenance, means that inspectors only have to look in one place, and data is legible and accurate.

PFI data becomes and remains resident with the armory where it belongs. Currently armories do not typically retain PFI data once it is attached to the SR.

Required Actions

If users request, Troika could expand a feature that allows PFIs to be conducted and recorded in AIMS-AA. This feature would enable bulk PFIs (with pre-selected serial numbers, standard radio buttons for inspection results and a record of the associated SR). The completed PFI could then be printed and used as the attachment for the SR and as required paperwork for range control. Three requirements are thus met (PFI data maintained in the armory, provided for the SR, and available for range control), with all data auditable and none of it hand-written.

Troika is also considering developing analytical/dashboard/recording capabilities for better command situational awareness and decision-making. This capability would produce a sample PFI report that can be shown to leadership such as organizational S-4s or MEF ordnance staff. The purpose of this is to demonstrate the auditability that can be provided for inspections, investigations, and life cycle management, particularly if aggregated across the command.

This paper focuses specifically on PFIs. The art of the possible easily expands to other inspections and checks. This includes Limited Technical Inspections (LTI), Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services (PMCS), and assets temporarily assigned via NAVMC 10359 Equipment Custody Record (ECR) to support a firing exercise (where the weapons must have a PFI completed within 30 days of the event; however, there is no prescribed requirement for how the PFI is recorded).

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