Logistics Reforms in the US Department of Defense

Since the Second World War and the Cold War eras the US department of defense (DOD) has carried out various logistical reforms in order to meet the challenges of modern warfare. These reforms have concentrated on three main areas: asset visibility, forecasting, and distribution.

Asset Visibility

In military operations, it is very crucial that commanders know exactly what assets they have and where the assets are located. In order to enhance asset visibility, the US department of defense has established Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) on all loaded ocean containers transporting war equipment to US soldiers, who were in war campaigns. RFID provides unique identification for all items that are loaded into a container, which enables integration of the items with supply data management systems. This reform has improved asset visibility within the entire department.

During the Cold War and World War Two eras, the major problem was identifying military items that had been shipped to US forces fighting abroad. There are numerous accounts of instances where military personnel had to tear down supplies in order to determine what had been delivered or to get specific items that they needed. With the implementation of RFID technology, it is possible now to track every item that is delivered to US forces with a high degree of precision.

DISTRIBUTION

It is very vital to move military supplies as quickly as possible to the locations where they are needed. The DOD has made major improvements in the distribution of military supplies to conflict zones. For example, during the Second World War it took several months to move supplies to conflict zones before they could be used for the invasion. Today, however, moving military supplies to war zones takes less than a day and when the items arrive there is greater accountability of the supply constituents. The department of defense is working on other measures, which will further increase the speed and reliability of its logistical processes in order to enhance the US military response. When these measures are implemented, the department will obtain a competitive advantage as a true weapon of defense.

In order to create a more efficient and effective distribution system, the department of defense has established close relationships with its customers and suppliers. Moreover, the department has made great strides in terms of accountability of resources and outcomes. This in turn has led to enhanced visibility of material needs of the US forces. Another measures taken by the department to improve distribution include reducing supply times, increasing supply availability, and establishing shorter and quicker operational supply chains.

Forecasting

Efficient and effective military operations require an ability to predict accurately future needs. To achieve this goal, the US DOD has been working closely with its suppliers and military units to ensure high visibility of the demand for military supplies and to avert any avoidable shortage. To further enhance its forecasting practices, the department has adopted modern commercial procurement standards and introduced an integrated logistics system linking its upstream and downstream members of its supply chain.

Shortcomings of the US DOD Supply Chain

Despite the major improvements that have been made to the US DOD supply chain, there are several weaknesses in the supply chain that need to be looked at is one of the key weaknesses relates to shortages of critical supplies. For example, in the operation Iraqi Freedom, there were various incidences involving shortages of body armor, which are critical equipment in combat operations.

Improvements that Can Be Made to Reduce Cost, Carbon Footprint, and Traffic Congestion

Transport has been linked with substantial and increasing amounts of air and noise pollution, and contribution to global warming. As a result of increasing environmental awareness, businesses around the world have started to recognize the importance of being environmentally conscious in their transport operations. The benefits of this strategy include reduced transport costs, more reputation for the business and, of course, reduced environmental pollution. There are various improvements that can be done in transport operations to help reduce costs, carbon footprint, pollution, and traffic congestion. These improvements are as follows:

Technological Improvements

There are several technological improvements that can be made to enhance vehicle fuel consumption, cut air and noise pollution, and reduce costs. Such technological enhancements include modifying engines, electronic control systems, exhaust system, and manufacturing more environmentally friendly fuels. Cleaner traditional fuels like low sulphur and alternative fuels can be also very useful in cutting urban pollution. Adopting new technologies can have substantial impacts on various associated areas. Reducing fuel consumption leads to reduced repair costs since vehicles are driven more cautiously when fuel use is controlled. Careful driving also reduces the number of accidents, which in turn leads to reduction in repair costs and insurance premiums. It is possible to attain all these benefits with an initial capital investment that is easily paid back. Moreover, the payback period for such an investment is actually very short. The use of cleaner fuels has already been adopted by those organizations with a mature environmental policy.

Driver Training and Conduct

Drivers act as significant representatives of the company to its customers and to the general public. It is very important that the standard of drivers and driving are as high as possible to enhance the company’s reputation and reduce costs.

Driver training is linked to technological improvements and fuel control systems. Driver training helps drivers to drive more economically by reducing fuel consumption. Driver behavior or conduct, on the other hand, is related to information technology. Technology such as satellite positioning systems and real-time data recording can enhance fuel consumption and ensure that driving hours are in line with the company’s policies and legal requirements. Real-time recording systems can help to improve health and reduce stress among drivers as they encourage doing the job according to the legal requirements. Reduction in driver stress and better driver health are advantageous to the company as they minimize driver training costs while maximizing the use of driver skills and the reliability of drivers.

Using More Environmentally Friendly Modes of Transport

Some modes of transport are more environmentally friendly than others. For instance, rail, waterways, and coastal shipping cause less noise and emissions compared to road transport. There are many alternatives in long distance transportation apart from road transport and it is essential that companies explore these alternatives. One of the ways of assessing the viability of each transport mode is by carrying out an environmental impact assessment to identify the modes that are more fuel efficient. In most cases, switching from road transport to other alternatives has an immediate impact on both the company and environmental costs.

Social and Environmental Responsibility Code of Conduct

Our company is a senior buyer of furniture products from key suppliers around the world. The company designs all its products but it outsources all of them from foreign suppliers. The following is a brief statement and the code of conduct for managing social and environmental responsibility in relation to both supply and suppliers:

1.1  Environmental polution

All our company’s suppliers are required to institute measures to curb severe environment pollution. Examples of such pollution include:

  • Direct discharge of untreated waste effluents to water bodies.
  • Illegal release of gaseous emissions into the environment.

1.2  Critical safety hazard

All our suppliers must ensure that their workers are not exposed to severe safety hazards. Severe safety hazards in this context refer to hazards that can cause permanent injury or that pose a risk to workers’ lives.

1.3  Maintenance of  working hours and wages records

All our suppliers must maintain clear and accurate records of workers’ wages and working hours. The calculation of workers' wages and recording of working hours must also be clear. Both of these records should reflect the reality of their operations.

1.4  Occupational accident insurance     

All our suppliers are required to offer accident insurance covers to all their workers for accidents that can occur in the workplace. The insurance should at least cover the cost of medical treatment arising from such accidents.

1.5  Curbing child labor

Our company has a zero tolerance policy towards child labor. Therefore, we have always strived to take all possible measures to prevent child labor in all aspects of our operations. In line with our company policies, we require all our suppliers to take all measures necessary to preventing child labor in their production and operations. The suppliers are also required to observe all national and international laws relating to child labor.

1.6  Forced labor

All our suppliers are required not to employ forced or involuntary labor. In this case, forced or involuntary labor refers to any form of labor that is rendered under threat of punishment or other kinds of duress.

1.7  Outdoor air pollution

All our company’s suppliers are required to comply with all the relevant laws and regulations relating to emissions into the air. Where permits and test reports are required by government authorities in relation to such emissions, all our suppliers will be required to comply.

1.8  Outdoor noise pollution Each one of our company’s suppliers will be required to comply with all the relevant laws and regulations relating to noise pollution and, if necessary, obtain government permits and test reports.

1.9  Ground and water pollution

All our suppliers are required to comply with all relevant laws and regulations related to discharging waste materials into the ground as well as into water bodies. In addition, all our suppliers are required to operate efficient effluent treatment plants (ETPs). These plants should be properly maintained and operated by qualified staff.

1.10  Energy reduction

All our company’s suppliers are required to measure and keep accurate records of energy consumption in their buildings and processes. Our company will set targets of energy consumption for all our suppliers in line with the international standards.

Cutting other environmental impacts

All our suppliers will be required to institute practical plans for reducing the environmental impact of their operations and production processes.

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