Logistics planning is both an art and a science. Logisticians, from tactical to theater levels, need access to data and planning factors to develop sustainment plans and calculate estimates. The complexity of national planning tools ranges from paper, pencil and printed reference guides to highly complex automated computer tools. Automated tools free maintenance planners from using calculators and managing large, unwieldy spreadsheets and allow more time for analysis.
The Army's potential future operating environments include a broad spectrum of operations, from decisive action to national defense, disaster relief, and humanitarian assistance. How will the Army plan the logistics of the 2025 Army, which will be more efficient, expeditionary, more agile and capable of executing the most diverse missions? Can logistical planning evolve to keep pace as the Army accelerates changes in organizational designs and technology and adapts to the Army's new Concept of Operations?
THE PLANNING DATA BRANCH
The Planning Data Division (PDB) of Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM) has an answer on how logistical planning can keep up with the Army's organizational and technological upgrades. The PDB is tasked with developing Army logistical planning factors and data in accordance with Army Regulation 700-8, Logistic Planning Factors and Data Management. These factors are disclosed to the Army and the joint community for use in planning.
The PDB has developed specific protocols to collect and analyze data submitted by various proponents and disseminate them to users. In addition, the PDB develops current planning factors for each supply class and constantly looks to the future to be ready for changes.
A critical use of PDB data is estimating required workloads and determining the number and mix of supply, transport, and maintenance units needed to support major land campaigns. As part of the Army's Total Review process, these results inform the program objectives memorandum, a key part of the Army's budgeting process.
For the joint community, PDB data is used in the logistic factors file, which feeds the Joint Operations Planning and Execution System. This data is used to monitor, plan and execute mobilization, deployment, employment and maintenance activities associated with joint operations.
The main route that the PDB uses to disseminate logistics planning factors and indexes to the field is the Operational Logistics Planner (OPLOG). OPLOG Planner is a self-contained, annually updated, easy-to-use program that helps units estimate how many supply and transportation resources are needed to accomplish a mission. The program asks the user questions and, based on the answers provided, produces estimates of the logistics needed to meet mission objectives.
For each type of supply, the user can determine the total weight and the number of pallets needed for a mission. OPLOG Planner incorporates all Standard Requirement Codes (SRCs) and allows the user to customize the amount and type of equipment needed.
OPLOG Planner also allows the user to create a Modified Organization and Equipment Table (MTOE) and provides customized consumption estimates. All reports can be easily exported in multiple formats for use in workforce planning.
OPLOG SCHEDULE BACKGROUND
Information within OPLOG Planner began with data from Field Manual (FM) 101-10-1/1 and 101-10-1/2, Staff Officers' Field Manual: Organizational, Technical, and Logistical Data (Volumes 1 and 2) , published in 1987. However, in 1994, the Army's director of plans and operations for the G-4 signed a memo identifying the FMs as obsolete, making the planning data they contained no longer approved for use.
A series of attempts to produce an automated replacement for FMs continued until 2002. That's when a PDB operations research analyst designed a Microsoft Access database with a Visual Basic for Applications user interface, resulting in the first Microsoft-based version Windows. of the OPLOG Scheduler.
In 2008, it became clear that the database's resources would soon be exhausted, so the PDB sought help from the Software Engineering Center of the Electronics and Communications Command (SEC). With SEC scheduling support, OPLOG Planner has become a standalone, executable, fully automated and easy to use program.
FACTORS AND DATA SOURCES
OPLOG Planner uses planning factors and methodologies approved by the Army's G-4 and collected, developed, disseminated and archived by the PDB. The raw data used to develop the logistical planning data and factors begins with a data call to the specific supply class data proponents. The raw data comes from a variety of sources, primarily from standard Army information management systems, describing supply transactions during current operations.
For example, the PDB receives the name, nomenclature and national identification number of the class IX article (spare parts) that are needed on a daily basis. This information is then processed and made available in OPLOG Planner for users to develop Class IX requirements.
Inputs for planning data are not limited to standard data from the Army's management information system. Data from other sources include the following:
• Monthly theater population data provided by J-1 for Department of Defense military and civilians and J-4 for contractors.
• Equipment use profiles (EUPs) provided by the developers of the Training and Doctrine Command or equipment organization and command (TOE), which impact class III (use of petroleum, oils and lubricants). Each EUP is updated to reflect total idle hours, total hours and kilometers driven per day, and percentage of trips on primary, secondary, and cross-country surfaces.
• Characteristic data (weight, cube, essentiality code, subclass, and cost) provided by the Defense Logistics Agency and obtained from Federal Logistical Data or commercial sources during the investigation.
• Information from the Army Lessons Learned Center on using supply classes in active theaters. Number of theater teams provided by US Central Command and US Army Central, and joint doctrinal and regulatory information on various supply classes, military decision-making, and order preparation.
• Force Structure: A TOE-specific update or consolidated TOE updates, provided by the Force Management Support Agency, Army G-3/5/7 (Operations and Plans), for use in developing unit-specific rates.
Significant research is done to ensure the data is as accurate as possible. The data must pass several specific checks. Also, there are common sense tests. For example, data might suggest that a pair of boots weighs 50 pounds, but common sense would lead an operator to examine this data for errors.
Missing data are also investigated to complete data sets. When missing data cannot be found, such as on non-standard or new equipment, substitute data (from a similar existing item) is used to provide a temporary solution.
Ongoing coordination between the PDB and data proponents is critical to the process. Data on supply requests are collected throughout the year. The more esoteric data, such as EUPs and total mission capability rates, are collected annually or semi-annually.
Once rates are developed, the PDB performs a significant amount of sensitivity analysis to ensure product integrity. The PDB and data proponents work together to analyze the data output. The resulting factors, methods, and data are approved annually by the Army's G-4.
KEEPING THE PEACE
Currently, the PDB annually receives and processes the consolidated update of the TOE. This captures new organizational projects as well as any new pieces of equipment. Planning factors also reflect updates in technology, specifically with Class III bulk consumption rates. Logistics planning factors are collected annually and processed every two years. And as the Army adapts to new operational concepts, they are captured in EUP updates, which are currently collected and processed every two years.
OPLOG Planner is updated and a new version is released annually. However, the scheduler allows users to modify and customize their experience and incorporate data changes within the program before a new version is released.
A user can also make estimates for out-of-the-box business teams using surrogate data already in OPLOG Planner and then modifying the EUP to reflect the out-of-the-box business estimates.
OPLOG Planner is a dynamic and constantly changing tool. As the Army changes, the data behind OPLOG Planner will continue to change and support the needs of Army logistics specialists.
Not only is the tool's data updated to reflect the most current factors and rates, but the tool is also modified based on future Army estimates and field feedback. Users may contact the PDB with suggestions or requests for additional data that may be helpful. This constant improvement allows OPLOG Planner to remain a relevant tool for the future Army.
Users can download OPLOG Planner and other planning tools from Army Knowledge Online at https://www.us.army.mil/suite/files/38799138 (for OPLOG Planner) and https://www.us.army. mil /suite /files/39242771 (for additional tools). For more information or help with the OPLOG Planner, users can contact the PDB team at using firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Reith is a Senior Operations Research Analyst at the CASCOM PDB in Fort Lee, Virginia. He holds a master's degree in logistics management from the Florida Institute of Technology and a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology from the State University of New York College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry.
Jennifer Van Drew is an Operations Research Analyst and Database Administrator at CASCOM PDB. He holds a master's degree in project management with a concentration in operations research from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Teresa Hines is an Operations Research Analyst at CASCOM PDB. He has a master's degree in information technology from the Florida Institute of Technology.
This article appeared in the November-December 2016 issue of Army Sustainment magazine.
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