Sunday, September 8, 2013

FEMA's Supply Chain, Planning and Managing a Supply Chain Under Uncertainty

This week’s topic is about planning and managing inventories in a Supply Chain, but more specifically during uncertain times. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a good example of an organization with a flexible supply chain, but is not perfect. It is their duty to provide essential resources to any location after a disaster.  The Logistics Supply Chain Management System (LSCMS) is the technology they use to track resources and commodities for all of FEMA’s distribution centers, in real time. After Hurricane Katrina, the Katrina Reform Act was passed which allowed FEMA to prepare the resources needed ahead of time in anticipation of a Presidential Declaration.

A complete cycle of the supply chain starts with The LSCMS and ends with the resources in the hands of the survivor. The most important aspect of their supply chain is the LSCMS, where resources are tracked at the incident level, regional level, and headquarters level. If any of the information is not logged or incorrect the chain is broken. Time is essential in a state of emergency, and being able to accurately estimate the time it takes for resources to reach the desired location is a life or death situation.

Shipment is the trickiest variable in their supply chain, as environmental conditions are hard to predict and overcome.  FEMA uses past experiences from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Defense Logistics Agency to model situations that can occur and the time frame expected to move a resource.

FEMA has to deal with hundreds of variables in their supply chain and has limited funding, which is why it will never be perfect. Most individuals do not think about the response time of FEMA unless they are experiencing the disaster. What do you think a good response time is during a natural disaster? If FEMA were to establish a perfect, responsive supply chain, how much would it cost the US government?

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