By John B. Snyder, Watervliet Arsenal Public AffairsFebruary 3, 2016
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- Many years ago, when the Army began to implement a logistics modernization program the Arsenal workforce was told that "change would not happen overnight," but to prepare themselves for a revolutionary change in how they would conduct future business.
Nearly 16 years and seven commanders later, that revolutionary change will finally hit the Arsenal's production floors this spring.
This is not to say that an earlier version of the Army's Logistics Modernization Program or LMP had not already graced the hallowed grounds of this historic Army arsenal, because it did. Nevertheless, the first increment of LMP, which was implemented here about five years ago, may not have been as transformational as was the Arsenal commander when he was rumored to have traded in a Ford Pinto wagon for a Dodge pickup truck.
Nevertheless, the first increment of LMP did help shape the environment at Watervliet for Increment II. This second installment of LMP will hit the manufacturing floors within the next few months.
Trying to replace a 40-year old system has not been easy, said Scott Shadle, the Arsenal's chief of the Business Transformation team that has the responsibility for bringing LMP on line.
"Several generations of the workforce have spent their entire careers using a legacy logistics system that had required 11 separate platforms to manage the Arsenal's production operations," Shadle said. "And so, we had to incrementally move the workforce ever so slowly forward with the rollout of LMP so that we did not overwhelm the Arsenal culture all at once."
Nevertheless, a slow rollout allowed the Arsenal to incrementally make changes along the way, as well as to capture lessons learned through the process.
There were a significant amount of lessons learned when the Arsenal rolled out Increment I, said Joe Turcotte, the Arsenal's deputy commander.
"It took us a good three years before we felt comfortable working with the first increment of LMP," Turcotte said. "But we have leveraged those lessons learned and have invested a significant amount of effort to prepare the command for the second increment of LMP."
Turcotte agrees with Shadle in that the Arsenal's culture had something to do with the transformation into the new logistics system.
"At the end of the day, we can't go back," Turcotte said. "After all, this is the system of the future and LMP will only make our efforts to support the warfighter better."
LMP is the Army's new business model that improves vertical and horizontal coordination, planning and execution of logistics. Everything from managing special tooling for production to tracking the maintenance status of machines to identifying shortfalls in raw material inventory will be tied into one logistics system versus 11 stovepipe processes.
What LMP Increment II will do is to integrate the manufacturing operations, in essence the production floor, with the rest of the logistic system.
For example, every product going through manufacturing must have what is called a "Traveler."
"This Traveler is a voluminous packet of paperwork that follows a product through the production cycle. Every machining operation, quality control check, revision, and cutting measurement are posted to this Traveler," said Dale King, a manufacturing supervisor who is currently detailed to the Business Transformation Office to assist with the launch of LMP II. "If the Traveler is ever lost or misplaced, the complete history of product has to be painfully recreated."
This pencil-to-paper process is as old as the Arsenal, which opened its gates in 1813. Because LMP Increment II is a computer-based logistics system, all the data that was once put on paper will now be tracked on a computer.
But beyond the advantage of improved documentation, the information on the Traveler may be viewed at any time by a supervisor. Thereby, providing real-time information on the status of production without having to walk the production floors looking for the Traveler. And, beyond the Arsenal, leaders at higher-level logistics operations, such as at the Army Materiel Command, will be able to drill-down to check the status of Watervliet's production, inventory, and maintenance status.
Because of the monumental effort required to implement LMP II, the Arsenal began conducting web-based training this month for those who work on the production floors. By the end of training, every end user of LMP will know how to make LMP function at their work station prior to the formal launch date.
"Once LMP II is in place, it will provide a tremendous amount of information to Arsenal and Army leadership about the current state of production at Watervliet," Shadle said.
The Watervliet Arsenal is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility and is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States having begun operations during the War of 1812. It celebrated its 200th anniversary on July 14, 2013.
Today's Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark had revenue in fiscal year 2015 that exceeded $138 million and provides an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100 million.