DOD moves to shore up obsolete parts pipeline

Defense Logistics Agency managing possible transition of its spare parts database.

DOD logistics planners are taking further steps to cope with diminishing sources of spare parts.

With declining number of manufacturers supplying the Pentagon and other federal agencies with spare parts, the Defense Logistics Agency has moved to shore up its “Diminished Manufacturing Sources Shared Data Warehouse” program. The cluster of web-based database applications is designed to link unconnected sources of information about obsolete parts, declining manufacturing sources and material shortages.

The goal is to ensure access to obsolete parts after a manufacturer has announced plans to discontinue production of a part still required by DOD. The Federal Aviation Administration has also encountered problems with procuring obsolete parts for its aging air traffic control radars.

The logistics agency recently issued a sole-source justification for continuing work on the project, saying the goal was to goal was to “improve the sustainability of DOD weapon systems by reducing the impact of diminished manufacturing sources through more effective identification and management of obsolete parts along with the avoidance of expensive redesigns.”

The obsolete parts data warehouse effectively serves as a “central data repository” for managing diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages, the agency said.

Among the material shortages that have military planners worried is increasingly scare rare earth materials used in electronic components at the heart of advanced weapon systems. DOD planners also have long been worried about the exodus of U.S. chip makers who have shifted many of their design and manufacturing operations to Asia.

Database specialist Concurrent Technologies Corp. has been the sole DOD vendor for the data warehouse project since its inception in the late 1990s. The logistics agency was required earlier this year to identify a potential small business vendor, but announced recently that it needed more time. Hence a “bridge contract” was awarded to CTC that extends through April 2014.

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