IBM J. Res. Dev

Inventory allocation and transportation scheduling for logistics of network-centric military operations

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This paper describes a prototype inventory-placement and transportation-scheduling solution developed in support of the emerging military doctrine of Network-Centric Operations (NCO). NCO refers to an unprecedented ability to share information among cooperating forces, enabled by modern communications and computing technology. The objective of the Network-Centric concept is to collect, disseminate, and react to real-time information in order to improve the performance of the U.S. Army as a fighting force. One problem that arises in the logistics domain involves the maintenance of combat vehicles. We seek to determine the improvement, if any, made possible by exploiting accurate information on the status of available repair parts inventory, the current locations of mobile supply points, and the demand for parts. We describe logistics algorithms for maximizing the operational availability of combat vehicles by producing flexible, optimized inventory and delivery plans that decrease replenishment times and prioritize parts allocations and repairs. Our algorithms are designed to leverage real-time information available from modern communications and inventory tracking technology by employing state-of-the-art mathematical optimization models. Our simulations indicate that Network-Centric Logistics (NCL) can significantly improve combat vehicle availability in comparison with current practice. © 2007 IBM.