WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. (May 23, 2016) -- The year the Arsenal first started investing in an Army enterprise initiative called the Logistics Modernization Program, basketball great Michael Jordan announced his retirement and Hip-Hop artist Eminem released his first major record album "The Slim Shady LP.'
Despite great fanfare and excitement then, it would take another 17 years before the Arsenal would 'go live' with the LMP process that will finally automate the manufacturing center.
On May 23, the Arsenal went 'live' with LMP Increment 2, said Scott Shadle, the Arsenal's chief of the Business Transformation team that has the responsibility for bringing LMP on line.
"We knew it would be difficult to replace a 40-year-old system," Shadle said. "And the difficulty would not lie so much with trying to change the culture of several generations of Arsenal workers."
What Shadle's predecessors may not have realized years ago is that creating, testing, and then fielding a system that essentially took 11 independent manufacturing platforms and migrated them into one centralized logistics program is a challenge that transcends the changing of workers' mindsets.
In fact, it was quite the opposite said Dale King, a machinist supervisor who is the key liaison between the Business Transformation team and the Arsenals' manufacturing center.
"We thought there was going to be a lot of frowns by those on the production floors as we try to introduce a new manufacturing process, but what we actually found is that there was widespread acceptance for the new LMP increment," King said. "Manufacturing personnel have been undergoing a significant amount of training in LMP these last four months and my impression is that those attending have been very positive and accepting of the change."
Shadle confirmed the high acceptance rate touted by King by referring to Arsenal surveys that claim that more than 93 percent of those who recently received LMP Increment 2 training said that they rated the training as neutral to excellent. Leaving only seven percent saying that they were not in favor of the LMP training.
"By studying the positive and negative learning points of a fellow arsenal who has 'gone live,' allowed us to integrate those lessons learned into our training," Shadle said.
Shadle added that he is very confident that today and thereafter, the Arsenal will migrate into the new process very well. After all, just in the last year Shadle and his team have invested several thousand hours learning from the implementation of LMP Increment 2 at a sister Army arsenal called Rock Island and, the Arsenal commander recently validated to his higher headquarters, the Army Materiel Command, that Watervliet is ready to 'go live.'
But it is one thing to be part of the implementation team that must tout and promote LMP 2 and another thing to be one of the end users on the production floor. Therefore, it is critical to capture and explain feedback from the production floor machinists and supervisors who will be implementing the new increment of LMP.
The Arsenal's acting Chief of Manufacturing, Anthony Polsinelli, said he is cautiously optimistic about the rollout of LMP 2.
"I believe that everyone on the production floors had a great attitude and were very engaged during their LMP 2 training that they recently completed," Polsinelli said. "Most workers will pick up the new process very quickly and they, in turn, will help out those who need assistance."
Machinist Supervisor John Zayhowski echoed Polsinelli's comments.
"Those in production have always stepped up to a challenge and they will attack the implementation of LMP 2 just like any other challenge … they will make it work," Zayhowski said.
Zayhowski explained that preparing manufacturing workers for LMP Increment 2 went beyond the 12 hours of mandatory training offered by the Business Transformation team. After Rock Island Arsenal went 'live,' the manufacturing center sent a significant number of production personnel, from foremen to machinists, to Rock Island to see firsthand how to implement LMP 2.
Jeremy Brackett, a machinist who graduated from his apprentice program on May 12, said he sees great potential in LMP 2, but as with any new software program, it will take some time to learn. At the end of the day, Brackett said that LMP 2 will only make the Arsenal better.
Fellow machinist, William Sheldon, said that he likes new technology but is concerned that he and some of his coworkers may not have retained all of the key aspects of the 12 hours of training he received about a month ago.
"I know that in the long run LMP 2 will make us more efficient," Sheldon said. "But the new LMP increment may initially take time away from production as we learn the new system."
To belay Sheldon's and other manufacturing employees' concerns about 'going live,' Shadle said he is deploying his entire team into the manufacturing center for the first 30 days to respond to any issues the workforce may have.
The first increment of LMP, which was implemented here about five years ago, helped shape the environment at Watervliet for Increment 2. It essentially revolutionized the current logistics chain process by providing real-time visibility on resource requirements and support.
With LMP Increment 2, 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.
According to the Army LMP website, a total of 17 sites and 14,000 users will begin to use Increment 2 functionality on May 23, which will build upon and expand existing LMP capabilities, namely bringing shop floor automation to the AMC Organic Industrial Base.
When full fielding is complete, approximately 30,000 users will use the overall LMP system, which is one of the world's largest, fully integrated supply chain, maintenance, repair and overhaul, planning, execution, and financial management systems, delivering materiel and equipment to Soldiers where and when they need it.
The LMP is one of the world's largest, fully integrated supply chain, maintenance, repair and overhaul, planning, execution, and financial management systems. It is an SAP-based commercial-off-the-shelf ERP solution that manages and tracks orders and delivery of materiel from the Army Materiel Command (AMC) to Soldiers where and when they need it.