The Execution and Prioritization of Repairs Support System (EXPRESS) Does it – I.T.

  • Published
  • By Judson Lander, Brian Boggs,Capability Delivery Managers Larry Hill
  • Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio  -- Get the most with the least, we do it every day – Prioritization!

At the “big picture” level, each day, for each repairable, at each Air Logistics Complex (ALC) - EXPRESS compares the ideal plan to the actual “as is” state, AND attempts to take the actions necessary to regain the synchronization that was built into the plan.  The goal being to maximize aircraft availability within the available budget.

Developed by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate, EXPRESS is the direct link between a warfighter’s plan and the priority of needs to successfully execute that plan – prioritizing $2.1 billion in annual Air Force Air Logistic Complex depot repairs.

For example, if base sites have all their required assets, but there is a hole in the depot working level, EXPRESS identifies and prioritizes that need. If there are holes in base weapon systems, holes in the base stock levels, and holes in the working level, EXPRESS identifies all needs, place them in priority order and evaluates all those assets requiring induction for supportability.

Why does EXPRESS perform these actions? EXPRESS does this because supply chains have two vulnerabilities.
  1. First, any supply chain can fail to deliver to customer expectations.  It can provide too little of what the customer wants; the product or service can be late, too costly, incomplete, broken/damaged, hot/cold/wet—you fill in the blank.
  2. Second, any supply chain can produce and deliver too much of the wrong product or service; too many of size Small, not enough of size Large, etc.
These two vulnerabilities are directly related to the synchronization of supply chains. If we produce too much of the wrong product, we will not have the capacity to produce the correct quantity of the right product. 

How – Magic?  No, Mathematics! Lots of data and number crunching.

For example, from an operational perspective, squadron commanders would like for their aircraft to be available at all times, to provide maximum combat capability and flexibility.  However, to obtain that level of availability would require huge quantities of spare parts!  So, we use a set of formulas and planning factors that allow us to maximize aircraft availability for the dollar—the biggest bang for the buck.

To capture customer needs, EXPRESS receives a snapshot of each stock number at each ALC and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). The retail supply accounts, for the three ALCs, feed their daily information through the Recoverable Assembly Management Process to EXPRESS - supply accounts are the Standard Base Supply System and the Wholesale and Retail Receiving and Shipping system.  In addition, EXPRESS gets a daily update of the quantity of each repairable on work orders at the organic sources of repair plus contractor work through DLA.

On a typical day, the total requirement for the Air Force will amount to some 180,000 needs.  EXPRESS then prioritizes the needs based upon a two-tier priority system.  The top tier priority system is called the Spares Priority Release Sequence (SPRS).  SPRS gives top priority to those forces or units in wartime operations or preparing to deploy for wartime operations.  There are nine SPRS categories, with a Joint Common System (JCS) project code Mission Impaired Capability Awaiting Parts (MICAP) in the top group and a non-JCS MICAP in the last group.  In between are a variety of categories, with the most important change being that a Readiness Spares Package (RSP) hole for a JCS project code needs to get a higher priority than the non-JCS MICAP.  SPRS priorities represent a very small  - less than 2 percent - portion of total source of supply needs.

The second-tier priority system, which is used for the remaining 98 percent of needs, uses aircraft availability as reflected by the Single Prioritization Across Weapon Systems or SPAWS ranking.  Underneath the SPAWS ranking is an algorithm that projects future needs - based upon latest demand rate and flying hours - available assets, repair costs and projected demands to compute the “biggest bang for the buck” priority. 

After the total needs list has been identified and prioritized, EXPRESS then allocates the existing serviceable or funded and in-work assets.  For example, a repairable asset that was inducted recently to fill a working level hole, could be allocated to a new hole the next week and to a new MICAP the following week.  EXPRESS has the advantage and disadvantage of re-prioritization each run day. There is an advantage to taking a fresh look at everything, every day. The disadvantage is that what you may find tomorrow could negatively impact the plans you put in place yesterday, much to the chagrin of those charged with executing those plans. The option to change is an advantage.

Flexibility is the key to combat airpower!

The final function of EXPRESS is to evaluate all the needs that are not satisfied by serviceable assets, or work orders - what is referred to as the Net Repair Objective - for supportability.  For each need that we would like to induct a new repair, EXPRESS asks and answers five questions:
  1. Do we have sufficient serviceable assets or funded and in-work worldwide, but not in the correct location (Upper Control Limit)?
  2. Do we have an unserviceable carcass available for induction?
  3. Do we have sufficient shop capacity to accept additional work?
  4. Do we have sufficient funds to pay for additional work?
  5. Do we have sufficient parts to give us our desired probability of success for an additional repair?
“EXPRESS is a critical decision support tool,” said Larry Hill, Capability Delivery Manager for the directorate’s Weapon System Management Information System Capability Team. “In a constrained financial environment, having the ability to apply those resources daily to viable repair activities with a focus on what the warfighter needs is huge.”

Additionally, EXPRESS can be used for repair forecasting/planning.  The EXPRESS Planning Module is the application which projects end-item repair requirements and repair resource requirements for extended planning periods (30/60/90/180/360 days).  EXPRESS has also been used to support Logistics war gaming.

In Summary, EXPRESS takes the plan for each repairable stock number, the financial resources budgeted and allocated, and executes the supply chain plan with prioritization. EXPRESS gathers the data and crunches the numbers so you do not have to, but you can look at and slice and dice the information from reports - every working day.

Logistics I.T. - the merging of resources and demand.

I.T.’s what we do …. Prioritization!