ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill.- As the Department of Defense’s premier provider of conventional munitions, Joint Munitions Command continually optimizes its operations to more efficiently supply ammunition to troops stationed at home and abroad.
An essential component of those operations is JMC’s business processes. The command oversees 17 subordinate arsenals, depots and ammo plants and is accountable for $59 billion of munitions and missiles. To successfully manage this stockpile, the command analyzes its procedures across the enterprise to help ensure tasks are performed in a similar manner and take a similar amount of time to complete, accounting for varying ammunition type and site-specific variations such as larger installations that require more time to transport ammunition on base.
“Our goal is a repeatable business model,” Mike Harrington, JMC’s acting government-owned, government-operated facility division chief, said. “We want to ensure that the same operation can be performed in an identical manner at each of our locations.”
Many of these subordinate organizations have functioned since World War II. Historically, each command operated with its own procedures, leading to significant differences in the amount of time required to handle operations and disrupting the planning process.
“Having 17 sites conduct operations in 17 different ways is not sustainable,” JoEtta Fisher, JMC’s executive director for ammunition and deputy to the commander, said. “Our work to guarantee standard procedures across subordinate organizations has evolved with the Information Age. It’s essential for getting the right munitions to the right place at the right time.”
JMC’s initiative is similar to private retail giants that ship and distribute consumer goods all over the world.
“Amazon has hundreds of distribution and fulfillment centers globally,” Fisher said. “If each site had its own set of steps for selecting items and packing them to fulfill orders, it would be a billion-dollar mess. Having identical procedures that work no matter the location is key. This concept is the same with managing ammunition.”
JMC utilizes a form of measurement called a man-hour standard to gauge how long it takes to perform a specific task and how quickly the JMC enterprise can get munitions to American men and women in uniform.
“The man-hour standard is essential to making sure JMC can meet the warfighters’ requirements,” Cindy Brock, JMC’s director of Organic Industrial Base Support, said. “It’s how we assess the amount of time necessary to get ammunition to the point of need.”
Operations involved in munitions logistics, especially those related to production and distribution, have a corresponding man-hour standard, or typical number of direct-labor hours required to complete the task.
“For example, according to our historical data, it takes almost four hours for one of our subordinate commands to ship one short ton of ammo,” Harrington, said. “That’s the combined labor of everyone directly involved in pulling the required munitions, packing and shipping them, etc. Now we’re evaluating our contemporary figures to see if that’s changed. We’re calculating that for each step with every type of ammunition we handle.”
Updated technology and increased requirements, like the need for additional inspections and gained efficiencies, can affect the actual amount of time needed to accomplish these tasks.
“This multi-year effort entails analyzing data from many years’ worth of ammunition production, shipment, storage and demilitarization across all of our sites,” Brock said. “It’s a long-term investment that will ensure fidelity of cost and JMC’s ability to support the warfighter, and that is invaluable.”