$2.5 million awarded to develop advanced supply chain program for new weapons system
College Park, MD September 9, 2003 The U.S. Army has awarded $2.5 million to two research centers at the University of Maryland to design and test a supply chain management system for the military's new High Mobility Rocket Artillery System (HIMARS).
The Supply Chain Management Center (SCMC) at the university's Robert H. Smith School of Business and the Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise at the School of Public Affairs will collaborate on the 12-month project for HIMARS, which is a highly mobile weapons system that can launch guided rockets and then move away from its location at high speed to avoid detection.
The research centers will work with the Department of Defense (DoD) and private subcontractors to develop a best practice supply chain strategy, design a supply chain architecture, and build a prototype for a state-of-the-art, Web-based HIMARS supply chain portal. Researchers are looking to design an integrated system that leverages Internet, wireless and other portal technologies to bring together all of the HIMARS supply chain components in "real time," from those soldiers on the front line to top decision-makers at the Pentagon. The objective is to develop a system that mitigates the shortcomings of the logistics and sustainment systems currently experienced by DoD weapons systems.
"Current military logistics systems use sequential processing of orders and work requests, which results in duplication, delays, inaccuracies and added costs," said Sandor Boyson, co-director of the Smith School's Supply Chain Management Center and the project's co-principal investigator. "The proposed HIMARS supply chain system will emphasize real-time links between the weapons system and key suppliers of ammunition, mechanical parts and other materials, in order to significantly reduce supply and re-supply times, and to more accurately forecast demand for supplies."
The HIMARS supply chain will be modeled after private sector supply chain practices, which have shifted to automated workflows, real-time transactions and shared databases. Like those supply chains, the HIMARS model will employ collaborative forecasting, advanced planning and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to automatically collect data, analyze information and predict supply needs. The entire system will be built around flexibility, security and open standards.
"This project will enable the military to roll out a new weapons system that will be immediately supported by a supply chain strategy that takes full advantage of industry best practices," said Jacques Gansler, director of the Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise and the project's co-principal investigator. "The supply chain system that results from our research presents a real opportunity for improved military readiness, and we believe it may well become the supply chain model for other weapons systems."
The HIMARS project is the second major DoD supply chain effort undertaken by the Smith School's Supply Chain Management Center. In June 2002, the center successfully demonstrated a fully integrated supply chain portal for the Air Force's GE F101 fighter jet engine. An operational test for the portal is currently under way at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.
"We know that many of the supply chain efficiencies needed within our military are currently being practiced with great success in the commercial marketplace," said Lt. Col. Robert Stevens, a career Army logistician. "The Army's participation with the University of Maryland is another great example of how we're working with educational institutions, as well as private industry, to identify the new technologies and innovative implementations that will lead to real improvements in the efficiency of our supply chain performance."