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448th SCMW director aims for forecast accuracy

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The new director of the 448th Supply Chain Management Wing, Steven K. Alsup, is focused on achieving a 70 percent Demand Forecast Accuracy Rate, "which will be a world-class benchmark when we hit it." Many major corporations "would love to even come close to 70 percent."

From July 2012 until Mr. Alsup's installment March 8, Col. Tim Henke, vice director of the 448th, served as acting director of the wing. During that period, the wing's demand forecast accuracy rate doubled from 29 percent to 58 percent. Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center, challenged Mr. Alsup to double that rate.

"We're going to keep that as an 'art of the possible' goal that we set our sights on as we blow past the 70 percent initial target," Mr. Alsup said.

The demand forecast accuracy rate entails "getting the right parts to the right people," and is a major contributor to cost-effective readiness. Mr. Alsup noted that General Litchfield has said, "Our ability to provide cost-effective readiness will determine the size of our Air Force. The size of our Air Force will determine our ability to fight and win the next war."

The 448th is addressing cost-effective readiness through several "targeted initiatives," including reduced over/under forecasting, analysis of chronically low forecast accuracy items, review of low- and no-demand assets, and review of assets with estimated rates (improved forecasting tools).

Small variances in a forecast can mean literally hundreds of millions of dollars in spare buys -- the wrong spare parts, or too few or too many spares, Mr. Alsup pointed out.
Sequestration is affecting the 448th SCMW's forecasts. The operating commands have scaled down their activities, "which means weapon systems aren't breaking or needing spares that we previously purchased at the rates we had planned for," he said. The drop-off "also has the potential to throw off our forecasts for future supply requirements."

The 448th SCMW is responsible for the management of approximately 94,000 items, ranging from aircraft structural components such as wings and windshields, to blades and vanes that are components of engine core modules, Mr. Alsup said. Approximately 24,000 of those items are sustained by applying demand rates that are based on historical usage data and then applied to future programs to compute future requirements, he said. "These are the items we target for our Demand Forecast Accuracy improvement initiatives."

Budget cutbacks also have resulted in travel restrictions, which "make it difficult for 448th SCMW personnel to meet with suppliers, customers and partners within the supply chain community."

Planning in these "extremely uncertain budgetary times" is a challenge, Mr. Alsup said. As a career civil servant who started working for the Air Force in 1985, "I've seen budgets go up and come down, and I've seen government shutdowns, but I've never seen budgetary times quite like these."

Nevertheless, the men and women of the 448th SCMW are "determined to not allow sequestration, travel restrictions and furloughs to impact our ability to support the warfighter," he vowed.

This period of tight budgets has prompted the 448th to "examine our business processes for improvements" in demand forecast accuracy and in strategic sourcing, and to "make sure we are as lean, effective and efficient as we can be," Mr. Alsup said.
The 448th SCMW has demonstrated its ability to 'tighten its belt,' he said. "The 448th leads all other AFSC units on General Litchfield's 'road to a billion' challenge with more than $286 million in savings," Mr. Alsup said. "And I know we can do even more."

One of Mr. Alsup's objectives is to develop stronger links between the maintenance and procurement elements of supply chain activities. "The AFSC structure really opens the door for even tighter integration between supply chain activities and the maintenance complexes at Tinker, Hill and Robins AFBs," he said.

Another of his objectives is to strengthen the relationship and "business process hooks" with the Defense Logistics Agency.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark Johnson became director of DLA Aviation -- the principal commodities provider for the Air Force and other services -- "about the same time I became director" of the 448th SCMW, Mr. Alsup said. DLA is "a critical business partner and key to the success of the Air Force mission," he said, "and I intend to work closely with General Johnson on ways to improve support to all Air Force supply chain customers."

Mr. Alsup also said he looks forward to "continuing the business process re-engineering journey that the supply chain management community has been on for nearly 15 years, when the supply transformation initiative first kicked off."

The 448th SCMW is an innovative "virtual wing" comprised of 2,800 personnel at four bases. The wing's four groups are the 948th SCMG, a virtual group with operations at all four bases responsible for enterprise guidance and procedure and execution; the 848th SCMG at Tinker AFB, Okla., requirements planning and execution; the 748th SCMG at Hill AFB, Utah, requirements planning and execution; and the 638th SCMG at Robins AFB, Ga., requirements planning and execution.