A Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages (DMSMS) issue is the loss, or impending loss, of manufacturers or suppliers of items, raw materials, or software. The Department of Defense (DoD) loses a manufacturer or supplier when that manufacturer or supplier discontinues production and/or support of needed items, raw materials, or software or when the supply of raw material is no longer available. While traditionally thought of as applying to electronic items, it is important to be cognizant that a DMSMS issue can arise regarding any item within a system, including software and nonelectronic components—materials and structural, mechanical, and electrical (MaSME) items.
DMSMS is a multifaceted problem because there are at least three main components that need to be considered. First, a primary concern is the ongoing improvement in technology. As new products are designed, the technology that was used in their predecessors becomes outdated, making it more difficult to repair the equipment. Second, the mechanical parts may be harder to acquire because fewer are produced as the demand for these parts decreases. Third, the materials required to manufacture a piece of equipment may no longer be readily available.
DMSMS issues can be caused by many factors—such as low-volume market demand, new or evolving science or technology, changes to detection limits, toxicity values, and regulations related to chemicals and materials—that significantly affect the DoD supply chain and industrial base. Another aspect of DMSMS is when an item, although still available commercially, no longer functions as intended because
of hardware2–electronic and MaSME items, software, and/or requirements changes to the system. This is often referred to as functional obsolescence.
Any of these situations may endanger an ongoing production capability and/or the life-cycle support of a weapon system or any training, support, or test equipment already in the field. Ultimately, DMSMS issues affect materiel readiness and operational availability, which, in turn, affect both combat operations and safety.
Materiel readiness is an immediate and urgent concern for the warfighter. Missions are affected if equipment cannot be supported; either the equipment is not available for the mission, or it cannot be sustained throughout the mission. DMSMS issues can negatively affect supportability if the items needed to repair a system are not available or are in scarce supply. It is unacceptable for a system to be nonmission-capable due to a DMSMS issue.
Because Department of Defense (DoD) system life cycles are longer than technology life cycles, Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages (DMSMS) issues are inevitable. No system or program is immune from DMSMS issues; they are inevitable. They affect short- and longlived systems; repairables and consumables; space-based, air-based, ground-based, and sea-based equipment (including support and test equipment); and so on. DMSMS issues are not confined to piece parts or devices; obsolescence may occur at the part, module, component, equipment, or system level. DMSMS issues are also not limited to defense-unique items; commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) items represent a significant obsolescence problem, because such items are most susceptible to market forces.
DoD cannot afford to be reactive in this area—reactivity may lead to a combination of schedule delays, readiness degradations, and higher cost. Consequently, robust DMSMS management is needed. DMSMS management is a multidisciplinary process to identify issues resulting from obsolescence, loss of manufacturing sources, or material shortages; to assess the potential for negative impacts on schedule and/or readiness; to analyze potential mitigation strategies; and then to implement the most cost-effective strategy. DMSMS management has been most closely associated with electronics. However, DMSMS management also should be concerned with materials, mechanical items, and software.
DMSMS Management Process
The DMSMS management process is straightforward. it has five steps:
Prepare. Develop the DMSMS strategic underpinnings (e.g., vision and focus) and a DMSMS management plan (DMP) to implement the strategic underpinnings for the program. Form a DMSMS management team (DMT) representing all stakeholders. Establish, document, and
resource DMSMS management processes for the DMT to execute the DMP. Identify. Secure access to logistics, programmatic, and item data and to monitoring and surveillance tools. Identify items with immediate or near-term obsolescence issues.
Assess. Considering the population of problem items, identify and prioritize the items and assemblies most at risk for current and future readiness or availability impacts.
Analyze. Examine the problem items with near-term readiness or availability impacts first. Develop a set of potential DMSMS resolutions for the items and their higher-level assemblies.
Determine the most cost-effective resolution.
Implement. Budget, fund, contract or arrange for, schedule, and execute the selected resolutions for the high-priority items.
Each of these steps applies throughout the life cycle, from early technology development through sustainment. Although it is best to begin these activities early in the life cycle, they may be initiated at any point in the process. Robust DMSMS management is a dynamic process that never ends. Once a program solves one issue, it should move on to the next. When a program has gone through its list of issues, it should start again; something will have changed. A program should repeat this process until its system retires. Ultimately, the DMSMS management process constitutes DMSMS risk management.
Role of the PM and SE
The Program Manager (PM) should incorporate a technology management strategy into design activities as a best practice to reduce DMSMS cost and readiness impacts throughout the life cycle. The PM and Systems Engineer should develop a technology management strategy for maintaining insight into technology trends and internal product changes by the manufacturer, and testing the effects of those changes on the system when necessary. This insight into technology trends could potentially:
- Result in seamless upgrade paths for technologies and system elements.
- Provide a timetable for replacing system elements even if they are not obsolete.
The Systems Engineer should be aware of and consider DMSMS management during system design. Following are several practices that the program should consider to minimize DMSMS risk throughout the life cycle of the system:
- Avoid selecting technology and components that are near the end of their functional life.
- During the design process, proactively assess the risk of parts obsolescence while selecting parts.
- When feasible, use a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) to enable technology insertion/refreshment more easily than with design-specific approaches.
- Proactively monitor supplier bases to prevent designing in obsolescence; participate in cooperative reporting forums, such as the Government-Industry Data Exchange Program (GIDEP), to reduce or eliminate expenditures of resources by sharing technical information essential during research, design, development, production and operational phases of the life cycle of systems, facilities and equipment.
- Proactively monitor potential availability problems to resolve them before they cause an impact in performance readiness or spending.
BAE Systems to provide DMSMS support to USAF supply chain reported in Jan 2021
BAE Systems has been awarded a US Air Force (USAF) sustainment and obsolescence management contract to provide diminishing manufacturing sources and material shortages (DMSMS) support. Valid for a period of five years, the $66.6m contract is with 429th Supply Chain Management Squadron at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, US. Under the contract, BAE Systems will deliver its advanced component obsolescence management (AVCOM) set of tools and services.
These services will enable the USAF to pre-emptively lower mission capability impacts during the lifecycles of weapons systems and other assets. BAE Systems Air Force Solutions vice-president and general manager DMSMS programme Pete Trainer said: “In this next iteration of the DMSMS program, BAE Systems will be implementing an innovative Cloud-based technology suite to enhance predictive analytics to the US Air Force. “Delivering this enhanced AVCOM technology roadmap demonstrates our continued commitment to the airforce’s digital transformation.”
AVCOM’s database has access to over 100 million parts. The customised web-enabled obsolescence management tool of AVCOM’s database helps users forecast ‘when a part will become obsolete or too expensive to procure’. The BAE solution has been recognised as the USAF’s ‘DMSMS Tool of Choice’ annually since 2001.
A Total Systems Approach Solves and Mitigates DMSMS Problems Before U.S. Naval Fleet Feels Impact
The Naval Surface Warfare Center Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) Code 315, Provisioning and Supply Support Branch, performs a variety of program management tasks which support U.S. Navy Hull, Machinery, and Electrical (HM&E) systems and equipment.
Both the DoD and Navy require that Program Managers establish a DMSMS program to proactively identify, resolve, and eliminate any negative impacts from DMSMS throughout all phases of a Program’s life cycle. Fortunately, Life Cycle Engineering (LCE) helps Program Managers meet this requirement in innovative and cost-effective ways.
LCE performs proactive and reactive obsolescence management for all designated HM&E systems in conjunction with NSWCPD requirements within prescribed funding authorizations and schedules. This support includes program management, issue evaluation and resolution investigation, status reporting and monitoring, metrics generation, ISEA and OEM/Vendor interface, vendor surveys, supportability analyses, and asset recovery.
To address emergent issues associated with the ships, LCE has proactively participated in ongoing projects and evolutions, and provided timely and effective resolutions as issues emerged. For example, LCE provided research and analysis on failed equipment to identify the correct replacements for numerous obsolete components. LCE experts also made recommendations to obtain the correct Form-Fit-Function (FFF) replacements and highlighted needed corrections to the configuration database and all applicable ILS products.
LCE uses shared information across all platforms to help identify USN solutions. This approach enables LCE to attack obsolescence with an established cross-platform DMSMS/Obsolescence Program which complies with Navy regulations. Since 2004, this approach has helped the U.S. Navy avoid costs of more than $297M.