Improving the Armys Management of Reparable Spare Parts

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Although the major commands of Army Materiel Command meet quarterly to review parts that are in short supply, typically only the most critical issues get attention. An initial goal might be to transition to a policy that allows monthly repair schedule adjustments with the authority to adjust the schedule delegated to item managers for more responsive implementation.

Second, the Army could work to shrink replenishment lead-times.

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The time it takes to deliver materiel to a customer is known as lead-time. If not, it could take many days or weeks to receive it from an inventory source. Reducing lead-time requires a close look at overall replenishment processes to identify segments that could be shortened, perhaps by policy changes such as inventory levels.

Third, even with more frequent replanning, the Army should consider increasing the targeted level of customer service provided via safety stock levels. These stocks buffer against uncertainty, some level of which will remain even with more frequent replanning, and increasing them will improve customer service.

Army sustainment

As repair lead-time improves, less stock will be needed to provide a given level of safety or customer service. Fourth, managers of the reparable process need adaptive tools to meet changing customer needs. Management policies and practices must match the dynamic nature of the operating environment to respond promptly to adjustments to successfully meet actual customer needs.

Even with updated long-range planning, it will be important to have the capability to change the execution activities quickly in response to changes in customer demand. Thus, the Army should work to shrink repair lead-times. Typically, the repairs occur in batches, e.

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Further reductions in lead-time require a close look at the process to identify process steps that could be shortened or even eliminated. Shorter lead-times enable production closer to the time of demand, shortening the forecast horizon and thus the forecast error, leading to fewer backorders and less excess production. They also enable better response to changes in demand as forecasts are updated. The goal would be to develop a more flexible system that could increase output in response to increased customer demand and scale it back when demand wanes, shifting resources to other activities.

Even with a pull system, the depot needs a production execution schedule to ensure that adequate capacity is ready. The Army should adjust the depot repair execution schedule frequently to synchronize near-term repairs with current demand. Updated information is available at least monthly that could be used to adjust the repair schedule, increasing or decreasing repairs depending on need. At the same time, the Army should ensure that unserviceable items are available to repair by working to improve the reverse logistics process — the process by which the broken reparable spare parts are brought back to the repair facilities to be fixed and made available for issue.

Army Logistician (AMC Repair Parts Supply Chain)

The depot repair parts management and delivery activities also require improvement. One problem revealed in the case study was work interruptions because of a lack of inventory. The current process has technicians leaving their workstations to get repair parts from supply rooms. A second step would be to modify inventory policy for repair parts, which now states that the depots should stock enough parts for 60 days of production.

How to Manage Rotable and Repairable Spare Parts

Such a blanket policy ignores the very substantial differences among parts used to fix reparable components. Some are far too expensive to stock in depth, and others are not used very often. A better policy would take individual part demands and costs into account when setting inventory levels.

For example, items used for all repairs are demanded more frequently, and the days-of-supply policy ensures both that there are enough parts on hand to complete repairs and that there is a continuing relationship with a vendor to meet future needs. Infrequently used items with long lead-times call for careful tracking to ensure that they are on hand when needed and that planning for future needs has occurred.


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  • Finally, the Army should adopt financial policies that enable repair programs to meet customer demands and that promote the flexible use of available repair capacity. The Army Working Capital Fund pays for depot component repair programs. Current financial policies encourage depots to carry a backlog of work from one year to the next.

    Get PDF Improving the Armys Management of Reparable Spare Parts

    This helps the depot fund labor and materiel, but it contributes to backorders and makes the system less responsive to its customers. A second issue is that when customers buy a reparable from the Army Working Capital Fund, they pay a surcharge that the depots use to recover not only their variable costs related to production but also their fixed overhead costs as well.

    The fixed-cost recovery portion of the surcharge is in essence a tax that raises the price of the reparable, sometimes to the point where it makes the depot appear uncompetitive with other sources of supply. Customers sometimes turn to these other sources of repair, depriving the depots of business and driving up per-item costs.

    According to systemic analysis method, spares support effectiveness evaluation indicators system is built, and then, initial spares configuration and optimization method is researched. To the issue of discarding and consumption for incomplete repairable items, its expected backorders function is approximated by Laplace demand distribution.


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    Through application on shipborne equipment spares configuration, the given scenarios are analyzed under two constraint targets: one is the support effectiveness, and the other is the spares cost. Ruan Minzhi received the Ph. His main research interests are naval warship equipment logistic support, support resource optimization, equipment support modeling and simulation.

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