The Marine Corps Maintenance Center ( MC ) repairs, rebuilds, and modifies all types of Marine Corps ground combat equipment, combat support and combat service support equipment. Some of MC Albany's products include :
- AAV - Assault Amphibious Vehicle
- LAV - Light Armored Vehicle
- M1A1 - Main Battle Tank
- HMMWV - High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle
- M88 - Recovery Vehicle, Tracked Trucks, Various Types
- VS - Logistics Vehicle System ( MK48 and Trailers )
- M9 ACE - Armored Combat Earthmover
- M970 Fuel Tanker
- AVLB - Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge
The Maintenance Center works all types of military ordnance, motor transport, engineering, general purpose, electronic, and communication equipment. This includes major end items and various secondary depot repairable components.
In April 2001, the Maintenance Center was delinquent in delivery on all product lines. Repair Cycle Time ( RCT ) was twice what was negotiated with the customer, costs far exceeded budgets, there was high Work - In - Process levels and the Maintenance Center was losing money on all product lines. One product line alone lost US$ 12,000,000 in 2001.
The Maintenance Center needed to improve drastically and immediately for three important reasons :
- First, the work of the Maintenance Center was vital for national defense; delinquent work detracts from the combat readiness of the Marine Corps
- Second, the Maintenance Center's military customers were tending towards more and more outsourcing of work to the private sector, where they could get better prices - meaning steady job loss at Albany
- Third, there are periodic base closures in the U.S. military, and inefficient facilities can be closed, with all workers being displaced or becoming unemployed
After seeing a presentation on Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM), the Maintenance Center decided to run a Critical Chain pilot project on one of their product lines, the MK48 Logistics Vehicle of which there are approximately 1800 front power units and 2200 rear body units in the Marine Corps inventory.
Overhaul and repair is considered far more complex than manufacturing due to high levels of uncertainty in repair operations. In manufacturing, the company knows exactly which steps to take to make a finished product. In overhaul and repair, the nature and scope of work is not known until the product is received, disassembled and inspected. The nature and scope of work from vehicle to vehicle can vary greatly depending upon each vehicle's condition. It is not known which parts must be repaired, and which parts must be replaced with new parts.
The uncertainty in demand for parts leads to high Work-In-Progress levels, due to the perception that several units must be disassembled in order to assemble one unit. This perception is pervasive in the overhaul and repair world and is a major obstacle to repair cycle time reduction.
By utilizing CCPM on the MK48 product line, cycle time was reduced significantly, and costs began to come down. The pilot project was deemed a success and it was decided to put all products on CCPM.
At this time however, Vector Strategies, the consultant on the pilot, persuaded the Maintenance Center that even better results could be achieved by implementing Integrated Enterprise Scheduling® (IES). IES is a methodology developed by Vector Strategies that integrates and synchronizes Critical Chain Project Management, Drum-Buffer-Rope Production Management, and TOC Distribution & Replenishment Supply Chain Management schedules and manages them as a single algorithm.
More than simply bolting - together the TOC solutions, IES provides real-time synchronization and communication channels between the schedules, and utilizes a unique form of Buffer Management to insure that all products, at all points in the internal supply chain, are to the highest possible degree in the right place at the right time. IES requires less overall buffer time than individual solutions bolted together, and further reduces the repair cycle time for the Maintenance Center.
Vector Strategies also integrated the IES solution with the existing MRP II business system. Schedules and reports are maintained in and drawn from the MRP II system. Only the CCPM portion of the IES solution required additional software. The Maintenance Center procured Realization Technologies' Concerto software for this purpose.
In April of 2002, the Maintenance Center, with Vector Strategies consulting, began implementation of IES plant-wide. The Maintenance Center was very aggressive in tackling the implementation, and it proceeded at maximum speed. The implementation was complete by the end of June 2002, and it has been operating by IES ever since.
IES has now been enthusiastically embraced by the entire Maintenance Center. And since Vector Strategies completed their involvement in June 2002, the Marines have maintained the improvement and the implementation is proving to be 100% robust and sustainable.
- MK48 repair cycle time reduced from an average of 167 days to an average of 58 days
- LAV-25, reduced average repair cycle time from 212 days to 119 days. All other products have shown similar reductions
- Cost to repair products has been reduced up to 25 – 30 % in real, inflation adjusted dollars, reflected mainly in reduced overtime
- All product lines are now 100 % on-schedule to customer requirements
- Repair cycle times have been reduced on average by more than 50 %
- All product lines are now profitable, meaning that they all complete within budgeted dollar amounts
- Savings realized by implementing IES has allowed the Maintenance Center to self - finance a complete 5S program and embark upon other lean initiatives
- The Albany Maintenance Center has become a showcase of world-class overhaul and repair performance; tours are conducted every week hosting officers and executives from government and private overhaul and repair operations
- The Theory of Constraints and monthly reports are also featured on the Maintenance Center's web site
- The success at the Maintenance Center has fostered additional IES and CCPM implementations elsewhere in the U.S. military overhaul and repair world
- The Marine Corps other maintenance center in California now operates using IES