Supply Chain Analogies

images from the haughton-mars exploration

A vast number of scientific principles and techniques have been developed since World-War-II to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of terrestrial supply-chains in the private and military sectors. We are investigating and contrast lessons learned from SCM in (i) major industries, (ii) long-range military operations such as naval-submarine logistics, and (iii) supply-chains for operations in remote environments (e.g., The Arctic).

Exploration Operations in Remote Environments

There are examples where effective logistics architectures and supply chain management have directly benefited or even enabled exploration. Our investigations will focus on two terrestrial exploration scenarios in particular:

Commercial Terrestrial Supply Chains

Our analysis of commercial supply chains on Earth will focus on situations where small quantities are involved, large capital investments are required and efficient sparing strategies with uncertainties are sought. Recent methodological advances have been made for bi-level and multi-level sparing and resupply problems under uncertainty with a variety of service and budgetary constraints. We have developed powerful models and mathematical techniques and programs to solve such problems on Earth, and we propose to extend them to interplanetary SCM. Our team is very familiar with both theoretical and practical aspects of successful terrestrial supply chains, and it is our plan to infuse this knowledge in this project.

Long-Range Military Supply Chains

It is was well known, even before World War II, that the success of military campaigns depends crucially on the proper functioning of resupply routes for ammunition, food and spare equipment to frontline troops. With the introduction of long-range military transport aircraft and naval vessels these logistics capabilities have grown steadily. Nevertheless, there are a number of especially challenging aspects of military supply chains that have potential application to space exploration:

Lessons Learned from Human Spaceflight Logistics

We believe it is important to document and learn from the past. As part of this task we have investigated lessons learned from both ISS and STS space logistics. To the extent possible, this also included a look at the Apollo Program logistics (1962-1975) as well as Skylab, MIR and other related programs.

The lessons learned are captured in the following report (PDF):

Evans W., de Weck O., Laufer D., Shull S., "Logistics Lessons Learned in NASA Space Flight", NASA/TP-2006-214203, May 2006.

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