Updated: Dec 18, 2019
In “How to Fight the A-hole in Equipment Readiness,” speeding up maintenance and supply processes at the unit level is argued as a method to achieve improved equipment readiness and operational availability. The Due and Status File (DASF) and maintenance management process is one area ripe for improvement.
DASF meetings are usually conducted at units once a week to reconcile all the repair parts on order against open service requests. This ensures that the right parts are on order and that those parts are in an acceptable status. This process is usually owned by the Maintenance Management Officer and conducted by a MIMMs clerk with participation from the unit’s supply and maintenance shops. It typically feeds a maintenance brief to the commander that explains the status of critical equipment with expectations and explanations for when the equipment will return to service.
In an age where digital information is readily available and almost instantly transferred, why do units wait for an entire week to conduct the DASF? Marines should use the digital tools at their disposal to manage maintenance and supply processes that are designed to capitalize on the readily available digital information.
Sometime around 2006, Marine Corps Logistics Command (LOGCOM) established the Total Lifecycle Cost Management Operational Support Tool (TLCM-OST). This system combines and cleans data from around 30 sources, including Total Force Structure Database (TFSD), and Global Combat Service Support Marine Corps (GCSS-MC), and provides a dashboard of the combined information. At the time, the Marine Corps was just implementing GCSS-MC and TLCM-OST was considered a secondary effort that competed for funding. TLCM-OST offered a quickly accessible dashboard functionality that was not built into the Marine Corps’ purchase of the ORACLE based GCSS-MC and was never formally endorsed as a maintenance management practice.
I faced GCSS-MC latency issues and bandwidth constraints as a S4 deployed to Iraq in 2009, and again on the 11th MEU in 2013. I leveraged TLCM-OST almost exclusively to manage the maintenance for both units. It was simpler and faster to access than GCSS-MC and provided data that was good enough for a daily reconciliation. The result was faster turn-around times for ordered parts and measurably improved equipment readiness.
While this process will not pass a Field Supply and Maintenance Office (FSMAO) inspection, I think that FSMAO should reinforce what works and spread best practices. This might be one that eventually makes the cut. Here is a step-by-step guide to use TLCM-OST to pull a report similar in function to the reports pulled for the DASF.
Launch TLCM-OST in your web browser (https://www.lcmi.logcom.usmc.mil). If it is your first time logging on you will have to request an account and a SAAR may also be required.
In the upper right-hand corner of the screen there is a dropdown box that defaults to “TAMCN.” Click on the box and highlight “Organization”.
Type your unit RUC in the adjacent box and allow the system to run for a second, then click the search button.
On the left hand side of the screen select “Organizational Summary” and select the “Maintenance” tab.
Then select the “Equipment Count” number next to “Deadline”
This pulls up a report that lists each piece of deadline equipment at the unit with meta-data and a current job status. The report can be filtered further for only Mission Essential Equipment (MEE) using the side bar. While in the browser, this report is interactive and allows for drilling down to the service request details on listed equipment. This report is much more accessible than the GCSS-MC equivalent.
I pulled this report daily for MEE and would export it to excel using the Excel Icon in the upper right corner (may only work in Internet Explorer). On both a deployed network in Iraq and the shipboard net, I was able to pull this report in under five minutes from a cold boot-up. Garrison computers in the field and MCEN have similar results. I would quickly scan the job statuses for anything that appeared unusual. The table below details my time goals per service request job status, when I would follow-up, and the failure point (in days) for each status.
I highlighted anything on the report that needed attention and sent it to my supply and maintenance officers for action. The first several times I pulled the unit report, it looked horrible. Most line items were in a status that did not adhere to the goals listed above. It took time to work through the issues, but once the unit was operating on this process, poor statuses became the exception rather than the rule because we were quickly able to identify problems and take corrective action.
At least once a week I would also pull this report for all service requests (not just MEE) to identify any other issues. The non-MEE report typically targeted the armory and communications shops. It also exposed how our standard practice is may overly focus on MEE. The smaller non-essential items, like optics, can become critical shortfalls that our standard approach does not recognize until there is a large problem.
This approach made the weekly DASF process much smoother and effectively made it a formal, second verification to the work performed daily. The cycle time for supply and maintenance increased because Marines were able to eliminate poor statuses more quickly in the process. Command visibility of maintenance and supply issues also increased. This combination resulted in markedly improved equipment readiness.
Give TLCM-OST a try and see if you can move the needle on your unit's readiness. Post your feedback on this thread so we can learn from your experience and refine the process. If it works for you, share the approach with another unit. Eventually we might have the critical mass required to get the process formalized so it’s not just a work around, but an effective standard practice.
Update: It has come to the author’s attention that while TLCM-OST is still accessible, it may not be a funded program any longer. If this is indeed the case, the Marine Corps is missing an opportunity to exploit a success because it probably did not recognize the opportunity.