MROAM: Military maintenance depots under pressure

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During a time of budgetary uncertainty, military maintenance depots must find ways to economise, say commanders at an MRO Americas panel, and it is likely to take the form of combined logistics organisations and supply chains.

"My message to you is really one message. I have this complexity of the budget going down while I manage this global workforce whose demand is not going away - it may even go up as we shift our strategy," says Admiral Jeff Penfield, commander of the US Navy's fleet readiness centres. "The key to it all is efficiencies, that's obvious."

Military maintenance depots are in the midst of a dramatic change in structure, from individual centres and maintenance lines to integrated logistics and supply chains, but the centres remain separated by service branch. Any discussion of greater efficiencies should start at erasing that divide, says Penfield.

A counterpart at the US Air Force, General Cedric George, commander of the maintenance depot at Tinker AFB, agreed that "we need to look at a new model, new innovative ideas about how to deliver parts to the production line," but expressed more muted support of a combined maintenance model.

"We better be very careful that we don't make an irreversible decision based on emotion in the near-term," says George. "Let's get all the data and have a fact-based decision on how to move forward."