By Heather Wilburn, Fleet Readiness Center East
CHERRY POINT — When it comes to keeping tabs on assets, aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities can present a special set of challenges. Components move through various stages of assembly and disassembly until the final product comes back together and moves back into the supply chain.
At Fleet Readiness Center East, a team of logisticians developed a tracking system that allows for these variables while maintaining real-time visibility of the item’s location — and the system helped FRC East pass a Navy Working Capital Fund Supply Management audit.
When asked to locate 833 assets in 54 categories, FRC East completed the task with 100% accountability, while only having to supply five instances of key supporting documents.
“This audit touched over a quarter of our active inventory and was performed by an external auditing firm known for being tenacious in their execution,” said Stephen Barrow, head of FRC East’s Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul, or MRO, Logistics Department. “Achieving 100 percent accountability is nothing short of excellence.”
“I’m incredibly proud of our people, who tirelessly support the day-to-day mission, and I’m especially proud of the team that developed the inventory tracking system that facilitated this successful audit outcome,” Mr. Barrow added.
While the development of the inventory tracking system rested with one group of logisticians, the audit’s success as a whole relied on work from a cross-disciplinary team that spanned logisticians, production controllers, planner and external stakeholders within Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers and Naval Supply Systems Command.
Conducted Sept. 14-18, the inventory took place near the end of the fiscal year, traditionally a very busy time in the business office. And while the audit, conducted virtually by Ernst and Young due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, lasted five days, the preparations were months in the making, including a series of internal audits.
“One of the big takeaways from the first two internal audits with NAVSUP was Fred Mercier (component business manager for the business office) looking at it and thinking there’s got to be a better way of doing business,” said Matt McCann, a workload acceptance business manager in the MRO Logistic Department’s business office. “How do we look within all these separate systems, snap the chalk line and get the best snapshot of where our assets are at any given point in time, to the best of our ability?”
Mr. Mercier started working with Brock Mannino, an intern at the time, who developed a database that aggregated information from several systems the business office, COMFRC and NAVSUP use to track components. The new system, dubbed the Wall to Wall Inventory Tracking System, tracks asset movements into and out of FRC East, as well as internally from shop to shop.
The auditors seemed impressed with the functionality of FRC East’s new system, Mr. McCann said.
“We were as prepared as we could possibly be,” he said. “You spend months preparing and testing, and you just don’t know where the wrinkle is going to be. But then you get to day two or three and you start thinking, ‘Hey, I think we’re going to do pretty well with this!’ You have a good battle rhythm, a good drumbeat and your systems are working. And because those systems are working, you have the capacity to address any of those random or unforeseen issues that can hit you.”