Understanding Integrated Sustainment Maintenance
by Major David M. Funk
The Persian Gulf War revealed that the Army's available general support (GS) maintenance capabilities were not integrated fully into logistics plans to provide coordinated sustainment maintenance support. The repair facilities of Active Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve GS maintenance units, depots, and contractors operated independently, often duplicating efforts and wasting valuable resources. It was obvious that some type of centralized management structure was needed to quickly identify and respond to theater support requirements and priorities.
In response, the Logistics Integration Agency developed the concept of integrated sustainment maintenance (ISM). Sustainment maintenance includes all maintenance performed above the direct support level, including GS, depot, and contractor maintenance. Under ISM, basic requirements are defined to ensure that sustainment maintenance operations are conducted in support of current Army missions (both peacetime and war) as efficiently as possible; then the efforts of all sustainment maintenance repair facilities are coordinated by a single, stratified management structure.
In field testing, ISM has reduced the cost of GS reparable exchange (GS/RX) component repairs while providing quality products. ISM saves money because more items are repaired at the installation level than are purchased from the wholesale level. ISM also provides the logistician (military or civilian) with a method of measuring how well the process is working. The logistician can access not only maintenance data but also supply, transportation, and financial information. This ensures that the commander receives the best possible support. Because of its demonstrated success, the ISM program has been approved for Army-wide implementation.
ISM provides many features that can assist the installation
logistician. Once he is familiar with these features, the logistician can
get the most out of the ISM program and, in turn, provide optimal support
to his installation GS/RX customers.
Single Management Structure
ISM integrates sustainment maintenance activities under a single management structure that has three levels. At the top is the national sustainment maintenance management (NSMM) office, which is based at the Army Industrial Operations Command, Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. The NSMM office provides oversight for all ISM operations and acts as an interface between the Army Materiel Command's (AMC's) major subordinate commands and the regions that perform ISM work.
Below the NSMM office in the continental United States (CONUS) are two regional sustainment maintenance management (RSMM) offices, one in the West managed by the 13th Corps Support Command (COSCOM) at Fort Hood, Texas, and one in the East managed by the 1st COSCOM at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. A theater sustainment maintenance management (TSMM) office will be activated soon under the command and control of the 21st Theater Army Area Command in U.S. Army, Europe. TSMM offices also are planned for Eighth U.S. Army in Korea and U.S. Army Pacific in Hawaii. The RSMM and TSMM offices coordinate all ISM management activities within their respective areas of responsibility.
At the third level of the ISM structure are the local sustainment
maintenance management (LSMM) offices, which are located at various Active
Army installations and National Guard and Reserve maintenance activities
throughout CONUS. A LSMM office normally is located in the maintenance division
of an installation directorate of logistics (DOL) or, for the National Guard,
at a state surface maintenance management office. The LSMM office manages
the daily production of ISM lines (items selected for maintenance under ISM)
at its regional center of excellence (COE).
A COE is a central location where a particular ISM line is repaired for all
customers within a given region. Using the COE concept, GS maintenance activities
are able to maximize their repair capabilities.
Maximized GS Repair Capabilities
Before ISM, each installation DOL and each state developed its own GS repair program. These programs were designed to repair as many GS reparable items as possible in support of installation readiness requirements. However, there were limits to the repair capabilities and capacities of the DOL's and the states. Unserviceable items that they could not repair were turned in to the wholesale supply system, to be bought back eventually at full price.
ISM maximizes GS-level repair capabilities and optimizes the
use of available resources. By consolidating the repairs of a particular
ISM line at one regional COE, duplication of effort across a region is
eliminated. Consolidation of similar work requirements allows GS maintenance
activities to become more efficient in using their limited manpower. By taking
advantage of economies of scale, the overall mean time to repair (MTTR) of
ISM items has been reduced substantially compared to pre-ISM performances.
MTTR and repair cost figures under ISM also are substantially lower than
those of depots.
Centralized Planning, Decentralized Execution
Under ISM, planning is centralized but execution of GS-level repairs is decentralized within a designated region. The RSMM office is at the center of ISM operations for a region. By using a stringent selection process, the RSMM office determines what GS reparable components in the region meet the criteria to become ISM lines. It then conducts regional production, planning, and control conferences offsite on a semiannual basis to award ISM lines to COE's and to discuss logistics trends affecting ISM operations. During the quarters between these conferences, the RSMM office conducts a regional production performance review by video-teleconference to go over COE production statistics with the LSMM offices. The conferences and reviews provide an excellent opportunity for continuously reviewing production performance and output and adjusting short- and mid-range production schedules accordingly.
The RSMM office publishes an annual production schedule, and
the LSMM offices then are tasked to perform the repair work. Each LSMM office
is responsible for shipping unserviceable ISM items to other COE's for repair
and coordinating reimbursement for repairs completed at those COE's. LSMM
offices also are authorized to coordinate with each other to ensure that
production by the COE's meets any local surge requirements that may arise.
Asset Visibility Through Automation
ISM provides greater visibility of GS reparable assets through the use of sophisticated automation equipment. At the heart of GS reparable management within the ISM program is a computer system known as the Executive Management Information System (EMIS). EMIS is used at the LSMM, RSMM, and NSMM offices. Each participating major Army command (MACOM) also has EMIS.
EMIS uses a relational data base to collect and consolidate data from various logistics Standard Army Management Information Systems (STAMIS) and MACOM-unique maintenance management systems. It displays these data in a format that is easy to read and understand. EMIS allows the LSMM, RSMM, and NSMM offices to monitor maintenance and supply trends and adjust production when necessary. With EMIS, logistics managers can make informed decisions. This ISM automated function will soon be captured in an Army STAMIS.
EMIS also allows logistics managers at all levels to conduct "what if" analyses to assist in researching logistics trends. EMIS output data are stratified for the various levels of the ISM management structure. The LSMM offices can access the most detailed information on each open work order.
Maintenance data are retrieved from the GS maintenance activities' STAMIS across the region and converted to a standard format at the RSMM EMIS. Currently, EMIS receives maintenance data from the Maintenance Information Management System, Automated Materiel Maintenance Management Information System, Standard Army Maintenance System (SAMS)-1 (from active and reserve component military GS maintenance activities), and SAMS-Installation/Table of Distribution and Allowances.
The LSMM and RSMM offices can use EMIS to track trends in backlogs. If a COE is overwhelmed with unserviceable items, the RSMM office can direct that a portion of its work load be cross-leveled to another COE in the region. Cross-leveling helps avoid zero balance lines, which prevents more wholesale buys. Finally, the RSMM office can track repair times (MTTR and turn-around times) and costs to determine whether an ISM line should be retained at the current COE or be moved to another COE at the next production, planning, and control conference.
The LSMM office can provide the manager of the installation supply division an ad hoc daily or weekly report that will let the division know the estimated completion date of all open ISM work orders (both local and offpost COE work orders). Using this information, the supply manager can make informed decisions on whether to hold a requisition and wait for an item to come out of maintenance or pass the requisition to the wholesale level.
EMIS also extracts data from various supply STAMIS, which assists the logistics manager in researching current and candidate ISM lines. The RSMM EMIS has access to asset balance file information from the Standard Army Intermediate Level Supply System and the Standard Army Retail Supply System gateway for each installation and state in the region. With these data, the RSMM office can identify ISM lines that are zero balance across the region and direct surge production at a COE as required.
The RSMM office receives monthly updates from the Central Demand
Data Base (CDDB) at AMC's Logistics Support Activity in Huntsville, Alabama.
These data, along with data received from other supply STAMIS, assist the
RSMM office in determining annual demands for each ISM line. The CDDB data
also are used to identify possible ISM candidate lines with high demands.
The Logistics Intelligence File for installations within the region is available
to the RSMM office upon request. These data on wholesale purchases, coupled
with demand and repair data, give the RSMM office a good indication of which
items should be repaired under the auspices of ISM. The RSMM also uses these
data in developing the annual regional COE production schedule.
Availability at Reduced Cost
ISM allows a region to maintain a high level of weapon system
component availability at a reduced cost. Since ISM began in the West Region
in November 1993, there has been no degradation of component availability
at the retail supply level within the region. ISM has been responsive to
local and regional surge requirements. Used as a retail level source of repair,
ISM has been able to capture and repair many GS reparables before they are
sent back into the wholesale supply system.
Single Point of Contact
One of the ISM program's best features is that it provides a single point of contact (POC) to answer any GS/RX questions a customer may have. That single POC is the LSMM office, which coordinates all maintenance, supply, transportation, and financial activities to ensure COE repairs are accomplished to standard and on time.
The LSMM office monitors production for all ISM lines being repaired at its COE. It also monitors the status of all of its installation's ISM jobs at other COE's through EMIS. The LSMM office, in cooperation with the installation supply division, also keeps tabs on the supply status of repair parts for ISM work orders. If a production line is stopped because a spare part is not available (a line stopper), the LSMM office will contact the RSMM office for further assistance. The RSMM office in turn will contact the NSMM office, which will research the matter with the item manager for the commodity in question. In most cases, line stopper requirements are filled immediately.
The LSMM office monitors the status of all ISM items evacuated to or from COE's at other installations. Using EMIS, the LSMM office can track individual ISM work orders by evacuation case, Government bill of lading, or Federal Express number to ensure that items have been routed properly to and from an offpost COE. This provides better accountability of evacuated ISM items and permits the LSMM office to research and find any misrouted or frustrated cargo. By tracking these transportation data, the LSMM and RSMM offices can monitor the turn-around time of an ISM work order.
Finally, the LSMM office coordinates with its installation directorate of resource management, or the equivalent agency for reserve component activities, to establish and maintain Military Interdepartmental Purchase Requests (MIPR's) between installations and states participating in the ISM program. The MIPR's cover all costs associated with ISM repairs, including repair parts, round-trip transportation, and, in some cases, labor (for repairs conducted by active component activities for reserve component owning activities and vice versa).
The LSMM office is the primary POC for all ISM questions from
the installation level. If the LSMM office is unable to answer a question,
it will elevate the issue to the RSMM office for resolution.
Competition is key to making the ISM program work. Competition causes organizations to improve their operations so they can gain and hold a competitive edge. Installation DOL's and National Guard and Reserve maintenance activities are given the opportunity to compete for, and be awarded, ISM work as regional COE's. This competition leads to greater cost efficiencies as current and potential COE's streamline their repair procedures to win work.
The ISM program has evolved into a very structured operation. A business process manual guides all ISM participants through daily operations. An entire chapter of this manual is devoted to the COE bid process. The RSMM office uses sealed bid procedures similar to those found in the Federal Acquisition Regulation. Strict rules govern the bid process. The RSMM office uses this bid process to ensure that the COE with the "best value" is awarded the regional work for a particular ISM line. "Best value" is determined by total cost and by the available capability and capacity of each maintenance activity submitting a bid on an ISM line. Checks and balances ensure that no "low ball" bids are submitted. The RSMM office will challenge any bid that does not meet the bid criteria found in the manual.
In order to compete in the ISM bid process, each potential COE must meet several strict criteria. It must-
Collect historical maintenance data and determine costs attributed to each component of its maintenance facility to arrive at an accurate hourly labor rate. This process also is known as a site survey.
Successfully install and transfer maintenance data files using EMIS, or SAMS-1 for active and reserve component military GS maintenance activities.
Implement a mechanism for tracking evacuation cases.
Develop and have approved an ISO 9002 (tailored) quality assurance
manual within 1 year.
Inspections and Repairs Only as Necessary
A feature of ISM that has proven to be extremely beneficial and cost effective is inspect and repair only as necessary (IRON). Under the IRON repair standard, ISM components are repaired as required to bring them to fully mission-capable status instead of completely overhauling them.
For example, let's say a work order is submitted for a heavy, expanded mobility, tactical truck (HEMTT) engine that cites low compression and low power output. During initial inspection, the engine is cleaned and run on the engine test stand to conduct a diagnostic test. The test shows that cylinders one and three have low compression while the remainder are within specifications. If no other faults are detected, internal engine repairs will focus on replacing piston rings and pistons in cylinders one and three. After those items and various seals are replaced, the engine will undergo diagnostic testing once again. If the engine meets published performance specifications, the work order will be closed and the item returned to the customer that owns it.
Repairing ISM items to IRON standards can save significant amounts
of time and money. Some observers do not believe that ISM items repaired
to IRON standards last as long as identical items that are completely overhauled,
but there is no conclusive evidence to substantiate such a view. Under the
ISM business process manual, if an item experiences an initial failure or
fails at any time during the next 30 days of operation because of shortcomings
in workmanship, the responsible COE will repair and return the item to the
owning installation free of charge. Naturally, any negligence or mistreatment
by the using unit jeopardizes this warranty.
Increased Number of GS/RX Lines
Installations and states participating in the ISM program can increase the number of GS/RX lines they can have repaired. This is possible because the installation or state can take advantage of the unique repair capabilities of other COE's within the region.
For example, in March 1995 the West Region added Fort Sill,
Oklahoma, to its list of COE repair facilities. Fort Sill possesses many
sophisticated repair capabilities for the M109 howitzer and the multiple
launch rocket system (MLRS). Because Fort Sill now is the COE for many M109
and MLRS ISM components, other installations can get many expensive items
for those systems repaired and returned. In the past, those items had to
be purchased from the wholesale level at a much higher cost.
The ISM program has been operating in the West Region for nearly 3½ years. In this time, the number of participating COE's has increased from 3 to 9, with expansion to 12 planned by the end of fiscal year 1998. The number of ISM lines has grown from 65 to 235. With the expansion of both participants and number of lines, the ISM program has amassed over $25 million in cost savings in the West Region alone. These cost savings are attributed to fewer wholesale buys of GS reparable items and improved repair efficiencies at installation DOL's and reserve component GS maintenance activities.
The ISM program has been at the forefront of Army logistics
initiatives. It has been tested in the field and demonstrated to benefit
our soldiers. The ISM process has raised the logistics community's awareness
of the capabilities and capacities available at GS maintenance activities
within CONUS and now is looking at outside CONUS sites. ISM also has provided
the means to harness resources and respond to dynamic logistics requirements
in peacetime and war. The original goal of ISM, to centralize the planning
and decentralize the execution of GS-level repairs, has been accomplished.
The logistics community now is working together in a cooperative effort to
streamline logistics functions, providing world class support to the commanders
in the field. Army doctrinal and procedural policies have been rewritten
to reflect the Army's commitment to this logistics business process improvement.
Look for these changes in the next update of AR 750-1, Army Materiel Maintenance
Policy and Retail Maintenance Operations, and other key logistics publications.
Major David M. Funk is attending the Army Command and General Staff College. He recently concluded a 27-month utilization tour as the Deputy Regional Sustainment Maintenance Manager, ISM West Region, 13th Corps Support Command, Fort Hood, Texas. He holds an M.S. degree in logistics management from the Naval Postgraduate School and is a graduate of the Ordnance Officer Basic and Advanced Courses.