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The Art of the Possible – Improving the Monthly Serialized Inventory of Armory Assets

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

Second in a Series

Current Situation

Marine Corps Order (MCO) 5530.14A, Marine Corps Physical Security Program Manual, requires a monthly serialized inventory (MSI) of weapons controlled and maintained within organizational armories. The inventory must be done by a disinterested third party, normally an officer or staff non-commissioned officer (SNCO), designated in writing by the commanding officer. There are also specific requirements for reporting the results of the inventory.

MCO 4400.150, Consumer Level Supply Policy, also stipulates requirements for MSIs. Both directives establish that the inventory document is an extract of the Consolidated Memorandum Receipt (CMR) which is downloaded from GCSS-MC. MCO 4400.150 further states “In addition to using the unit current CMR, units will download their current asset information and incoming and outgoing shipments reports from the Crane website and use these additional files in the conduct of MSI.”

Because the inventory is accomplished using a hard copy of the CMR, current procedures require the inventory officer to work from paper. The paper extract has all the serial numbers listed in sequence for each individual asset type listed by Table of Authorized Materiel Control Number (TAMCN). This is why armorers spend countless hours organizing and re-organizing their assets in serial number sequence to allow for more efficient MSIs. Accounting is recorded by using pens or highlighters to manually mark each serial number as it is read off for the asset.

Since the CMR extract is in grouped by TAMCN, it is cumbersome record kitted items associated and mounted to the primary asset (i.e., range finders and scopes mounted on a rifle) simultaneously to inventorying the primary asset. The inventory officer either has to go back to individual stow locations numerous times or has to flip through multiple pages of the CMR extract to tick off each serial number in the rack. This can happen as many as five times per rack location.

Our survey results report that prior to using AIMS-AA, the time to conduct these inventories ranges from 2-3 days to a week or more. They are labor intensive and are a nearly entirely manual procedure. Although inventories are conducted by a disinterested third party, it requires the continuous support of one to three armory personnel to identify different assets, remove assets from stow locations, read serial numbers, and locate and describe various paper sources that account for assets not currently in the armory. It also means that the disinterested third party is absent from their normal duties for the duration of the inventory.

Our experience indicates that approximately half of the serialized assets within an armory have functioning 2D QR bar codes affixed to them. However, armories typically have no capability to scan and read these labels.

Marine Corps orders do not currently allow for AIMS-AA to be the primary tool for recording and capturing each individual serial number being accounted for. However, our survey results of current AIMS-AA users show an average time saving of 23% for the conduct of MSIs. This time savings is a result of AIMS-AA’s ability to quickly locate or account for assets not in their designated stow position (or to identify assets that are in their stow position and may have inadvertently been skipped over).

Once MSIs are completed, the inventory official provides a written report of the inventory results. This report has the annotated CMR attached as well as any other pertinent documents used to provide accountability. This report along with attachments (which can be numerous) are manually filed.

Art of the Possible

AIMS-AA has the functionality to digitally conduct and record MSIs in a manner that saves time, provides greater accuracy and auditability, and generates reliable data to support inspections, investigations, asset management, and other decision-making requirements.

What AIMS-AA Does

AIMS-AA can conduct the MSI without paper. When AIMS-AA is initially installed at a new organization, the CMR is digitally imported to AIMS-AA. A reconciliation is then conducted electronically to validate that every serial number listed on the CMR and imported to AIMS-AA is physically accounted for. This reconciliation is exactly like an MSI.

The conduct of the MSI can be done in a sequence most applicable to the set-up of the armory, such as by stow location (i.e., by rack number sequence even if assets are not in serial number sequence). It also enables serialized kitted assets to be inventoried at the same time as the primary assets when those assets are stowed together.

AIMS-AA captures and records results digitally rather than by pen marks or highlighter on paper and are thus auditable/traceable. If the asset has a bar code, AIMS-AA includes the ability to record the serial number via a hand-held scanner that is part of the AIMS-AA suite.

AIMS-AA has a proven ability to centrally locate and quickly account for assets not in their designated stow position. This includes assets checked-out via an ECR, have been evacuated to a higher echelon of maintenance, or have been transferred to another account. This also includes identifying assets that are in their stow position and may have inadvertently been skipped over during the inventory. With AIMS-AA, all the accountable information is in one digital place, rather than multiple places that includes folders, logbooks, and even whiteboards.

All accounting of assets, whether physically present or accounted via another means when not physically present is accomplished via digitization. This means there is a distinct, comprehensive, accurate, easily accessible audit trail of the inventory, whether in progress or completed. All results and records are filed digitally and maintained for 10 years or longer if desired.

What AIMS-AA Improves

AIMS-AA has the capability to conduct MSIs in full compliance with the cited Marine Corps Orders. Specifically, it has the capability to conduct MSIs more accurately and in significantly less time.

AIMS-AA improves efficiency and accuracy because AIMS-AA eliminates all hand-written data capture for MSIs. It does it with less manpower. Or as an alternative, it can do it with the same manpower in significantly less time while simultaneously improving accuracy and accountability.

Because serial number data is captured digitally rather than by pen marks or highlighter, results and accuracy is no longer dependent on mark outs or notes when a serial number was mistakenly checked off. AIMS-AA immediately identifies assets that remain unaccounted for along with their assigned location and/or custody status. Because of the digitization and search capabilities, there are several ways AIMS-AA that can quickly isolate location and custody.

AIMS-AA readily accepts a CMR file import. An AIMS-AA MSI can be immediately reconciled against the CMR (e.g., a digital comparison that highlights any discrepancies).

AIMS-AA eliminates the need to store paper products in a filing cabinet that can easily become unattached or lost. All MSI recording, to include supporting documentation, is auditable using AIMS-AA.

Our survey results across eight disparate organizations that use AIMS-AA show an average time savings of 23% to conduct a serialized inventory. This is because organizations report a “noticeable improvement” in their ability to track and locate an unaccounted asset (e.g., a discrepancy in sight count or other inventory). Based on results for six other efficiency metrics surveyed, we believe that a time savings of 37-50% could be achieved if AIMS-AA was authorized to conduct MSIs.

Required Actions

A change to Marine Corps policy is needed to allow AIMS-AA to be used for MSI. The explicit policy change would allow a CMR import to AIMS-AA to be recognized as the extract. The 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”.

Ideally, AIMS-AA would be interoperable with GCSS-MC in order to have a seamless digital transfer of the CMR. However, AIMS-AA’s data import and export functionality currently supports this requirement.

AIMS-AA MSI functionality would prevent any additions or deletions to the CMR extract. It would be able to readily conduct a reconciliation and allow notes per policy requirements for discrepancies. It would also have to have a means to download files from the Crane Report.

Apart from the necessary policy and interoperability changes, as an interim measure, Troika intends to introduce training and documentation that specifically informs users how they can use AIMS-AA to improve MSI efficiency and accountability while maintaining compliance with current policies.

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