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Improving the Supply Chain in the UK Armed Forces. It is evident that, should six sigma be successfully implemented into the defence supply chain then it has much to offer and could, almost certainly, make the supply chain more resilient. For the MOD th

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Introduction

ROYAL MILITARY COLLEGE OF SCIENCE SHRIVENHAM (Word Count 2586) Introduction War, terrorist attacks, disease and industrial action are just four examples of disruptive events that can, and indeed have, transformed perceptions of supply chain security and have highlighted their vulnerability (Juttner, 2005). Additionally, with increasing global sourcing, supply chains have become increasingly complex and have therefore increased the risk associated with them. The serious of this vulnerability has been recognised by the government and in 2003 the Department for Transport issued a report whose aim was to assist managers in improving the resilience of their supply chain networks (Peck, 2003). Resilience, in terms of the supply chain, is the ability of a system to return to its original (or desired) state after being disturbed (Christopher, Rutherford, 2004). Until recently organisations have paid little attention to supply chain resilience but this view is rapidly changing due to the massive financial penalties that can be incurred by the failure to understand and manage this risk. Many businesses are using process control methodologies to manage their supply chain processes and, in turn, reduce the risk within their supply chain. Risk, in the context of the supply chain, has been defined as the potential occurrence of an incident with inbound supply in which the result is the inability of the purchasing organisation to meet customer demand (Zsidisin, 2003). Process control methodologies such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), total quality management (TQM) and Six Sigma are all initiatives, implemented by businesses worldwide, to improve performance and, ultimately lead to competitive advantage. ...read more.

Middle

Many of the level one problems have already been identified by The Cleansing Project team (TCP) headed by Colonel Tony Anthistle in 2000. The team identified problems ranging from the incorrect codification of thousands of stock numbers to inconsistencies between the three services systems that would inevitably cause problems when operating in a tri-service environment. Within the MOD it is currently difficult to quantify many of the supply chain issues associated within level one due to the lack of available data; legacy IT systems failed to capture the data required for extensive analysis (Chapell, Peck, 2005). Clearly Information Systems (IS) are required that automate processes, enable fast and accurate data capture and give both visibility and accountability. Figure 1: Defence Supply Chain Networks Level 1 Process Control & Processes Inventory Management IT Systems Level 2 NEC Infrastructure Asset People, Transport Tracking Level 3 Relationships Government Policy, Doctrine MOD, Headquarters Level 4 PESTEL Environment Operations Source : Adapted from Peck, H. (2005), "Reducing Risk in the Defence Supply Chain", (by H.Peck) Defence Management Journal, Issue 28, March 2005, pp20-21, 24. Operation Granby was the first of recent major operation to highlight inadequacies in the defence supply chain, most of which have been left unaddressed (HMSO, 1991). More recently Operation TELIC has highlighted the need for the MOD to implement an efficient asset tracking system that would work in peacetime and on operations. Having served in Iraq with 2 Close Support Regiment (RLC) ...read more.

Conclusion

It would require training, communication, changes in organisational structure and a cultural change; it is a difficult, time consuming path to follow but if the MOD wishes to reap the rewards it must recognise these hurdles and strive to overcome them. The DLTP is a step in the right direction. There is currently a danger that the peacetime savings that can be realised using lean techniques will be afforded priority and this short term view will undoubtedly make the defence supply chain less resilient and more susceptible to failure on operations; an outcome which is unacceptable. There is a fine balance that can be achieved between agile and lean and providing 'value for money' to the taxpayer will always remain a key factor, particularly with the constant public and media scrutiny that public organisations work under. One study has suggested that the increased visibility of some processes brought about by the use of a process control methodology has aided supplier performance evaluation and control (Laframboise, Reyes, 2005). There is much evidence to suggest that methodologies such as six sigma, when implemented correctly, do reduce risk and certainly give greater control over processes. This increased control and reduction in risk will increase the resilience of the supply chain making it well placed to overcome disruptive events. However, supply chain resilience can not be achieved by process control methods alone. Whilst it may go someway to helping overcome disruptive events it should be used in conjunction with other tools and techniques, such as the building of sound supply relationships. A good toolset can be found in the Department for Transport sponsored document, "Creating Resilient Supply Chains: A Practical Guide". ...read more.

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