MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- Many people depend on watches to guide their daily routines. Wearing a watch is fairly common in American society. Being on time is often necessary for any unit to function properly. Unfortunately, many people responsible for materiel readiness within the Marine Corps are not looking at the same watch.
A new web-based tool ensures that everyone in the Marine Corps is looking at the same watch and is on the same page as it relates to materiel readiness, said Pam Dervan, Logistics Management Specialist who is also the chairperson of the Materiel Readiness Integrated Product Team.
The Marine Corps Equipment Readiness Information Tool, also known as MERIT, graphically displays the current readiness posture of units throughout the Corps including detailed supply and maintenance information for more than 185 different weapon systems. The user-friendly tool takes data from a variety of sources and displays it in a manner that allows the user to identify problems in "two seconds" and find the cause in "10 seconds," said Dervan. MERIT is a versatile, scalable and intuitive tool that taps into legacy data from Marine Corps systems and also will be able to import from future Marine Corps logistics systems as well as non-Marine Corps automated information systems.
"This tool allows us to very quickly see what the situation is for each of the different weapon systems," said Dervan.
MERIT allows the user to access information by commodity or functional area. It provides filters that allow the user to create displays of the data based on the users individual needs.
For example, a Product Group Director at Marine Corps Systems Command who is responsible for Artillery, Infantry Weapons and Tanks may want to track those weapon systems on a daily basis. With a few clicks of his mouse, he can view his readiness information in seconds, identifying potential problems and possible solutions.
If readiness for his systems is below acceptable standards he can quickly see where he needs to focus his attention. If a weapons system is deadlined (not mission capable), he can see automatically if the unit is waiting for parts or if it is a maintenance problem. On the other end of the spectrum, a user can see if his unit is at peak readiness.
"If I were with I MEF, I could display and track information that pertains to me, instead of looking at readiness from an Enterprise perspective," said Dervan.
According to Dervan, MERIT's scope, versatility, and user-friendly operation makes it a "need to have" for everyone associated with ensuring the readiness of Marine Corps equipment. It gives Force Commanders visibility of their readiness trends, problems and associated causes. It also provides detailed information required by maintainers, Logistics Management Specialist, Program Managers and analysts.
MERIT is a tool that can be used by everyone including the Commandant, the Battalion Commander or the small unit leader on the front lines.
Users can track readiness over time. They can look at a unit's readiness 300 weeks ago or over a period of 12 weeks. This can help them determine where trends lie and guide them to solutions that may allow them to prevent future problems.
Before MERIT, the Marine Corps spent an inordinate amount of time doing calculations, analyzing printouts and developing briefing charts to support readiness analysis requirements.
"We performed a study before MERIT came on line that revealed that on any given day, as many as 500 Marines were doing nothing but making readiness charts," said Dervan.
Now instead of spending 80 percent of their time gathering the data, they are spending that time solving problems and facilitating readiness improvements.
"Prior to the development of MERIT, no one in the Marine Corps was looking at the Equipment Resource Capability rating, referred to as the Materiel Readiness (MR) rating. The Materiel Readiness (MR) rating combines the concerns of the supply officer and the maintenance officer by combining the Supply/Equipment On Hand (S rating) with the Equipment Condition (R rating), resulting in the "go to war" capability." said Dervan. "MERIT takes data and combines it into valuable information that can be used to make decisions."
Even though MERIT is in its infancy, its concept development began in 2000. The innovation to have everyone in the Marine Corps on the same watch was the brainchild of Michael Williamson, the Director of MatCom's Readiness and Analysis Department.
"Originally we went into this open minded, with the thought of examining readiness from top to bottom in this enterprise we call the Marine Corps, and we looked at what needed to be done," said Williamson. "My vision was to examine what readiness is, what it is not, who has readiness information and who has what responsibilities. It became obvious that we needed a single place to get the information we needed. We wanted to take the things we already had and integrate those into a tool that could be useful for many people."
A Materiel Readiness Integrated Product Team (MRIPT) was formed to accomplish this. It brought together a cross-functional team that focused on materiel readiness policies, calculations, displays and reporting procedures. They discovered that the Marine Corps was using the wrong metrics and that too many people were looking at different watches.
The most recent MRIPT meeting was held in Albany in January 2003. This team developed the requirements for MERIT and is still used to validate that MERIT is on track and is serving the needs of the customer.
MERIT personnel plan for the system to be fully operational by 2004. Regardless of the transformations that the Marine Corps will make in life cycle management, MERIT will remain a valuable asset in the future.
Williamson pointed out that MERIT capitalized on the hard work that others have done before them. The MERIT team will keep charging and improving their tool to serve the Marine Corps and other DOD users.
According to Dervan, MERIT has applicability to the other services and departments of the DoD.
"MERIT is the tool that will move the Marine Corps toward a single materiel readiness capability" said Dervan. "It provides a unique capability that is not found elsewhere within DOD."