TDM-Catalyst is a major Logistics IT modernization effort for the United States Marine Corps (USMC). The USMC handles a great deal of materiel (military materials and equipment) that is critical to their mission. This materiel includes weapons, vehicles, radios, tools, and numerous other components as well as subcomponents of equipment and supplies. The catalogs of information needed to manage and administrate that materiel (including parts for repair and replacement) is the subject of the TDM-Catalyst project.
The legacy applications involved in this modernization effort were four separate catalog and procurement enterprise information systems. The applications performed finding and accessing inventory in catalogs and logistics provisioning information. Those catalogs also held information about the equipment item configurations used by Marine Corps personnel, who provision parts and equipment for the warfighter.
These legacy systems were examples of the condition of many Defense IT systems in use today. They were notoriously slow and unresponsive by today’s standards, had no coordination or exchange of information and therefore accuracy suffered. These systems used mainframe and mid-tier computing infrastructure technology from 20-30 years ago. Users had to access four different workstations and transmit document files using email without data validation or verification to complete a workflow. There was excessive manual data entry risking human error and costing a huge man hour expense. For example, when adding an item with a National Stock Number (NSN), users had to update 12 different systems. Execution and approval of this process often took six to eight months. There were frequent errors, out-of-date information, and duplicate orders, identifying a truly broken aged process.
The new TDM-Catalyst system now completes this workflow in less than 48 hours, often in as little as 24. TDM-Catalyst is a true improvement and enhancement to the mission.
"Initially we started as a catalog transaction operation, the backbone of operations, but the future implementation is to do trend analysis for weapons systems where we can perform proper adjustments for logistics AND engineering for just-intime supply. We want to order the right part at the right time in the right configuration. We want to predict how much equipment is needed at a location to support the operation. The backbone of the data we are putting into the system is going to be used downstream."
TDM-Catalyst project owner
Information Technology modernization is a goal for the Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics (DC I&L). They created the Logistics Information Technology (Log-IT) branch of the Logistics Command to improve mission operations using current Information Technology resources like cloud computing and web browser user-interfaces. The TDM-Catalyst modernization project establishes global logistics awareness and operations competency unlike any previous system.
The goals of TDM-Catalyst are to transform Log-IT:
TDM-Catalyst went live in production operation on March 1, 2021. It replaced the four separate legacy systems (3 mainframe and 1 middle tier application). The Marine Corps will be able to decommission and shut down all of these legacy systems. With elimination of those systems, the Marine Corps will recover costs to operate, maintain and sustain them, and reduce risk. Personnel will be assigned to other tasks currently in backlog — saving time, materiel and manpower.
Users now have one application to accomplish the various tasks that spanned four legacy systems. The new system exceeds expectations with users. Feedback is outstanding! The new system drastically shortens the time to locate materiel with accurate information. The workflow processes eliminate extra steps and make the work much more efficient. The reliability of the data is so much better that the user community is growing. Provisioning of parts and equipment takes far less time. The system automatically updates inventory data from the Federal Logistics Information System (FLIS). This enables the readiness of Marine Corps forces for mission operations and substantially enhances the ability to execute. The TDM-Catalyst system dramatically improves data quality, with elimination of manual errors and implementation of automatic data validation. It enables trend analysis for planning and demand signals used by the DOD. As value data is continuously collected, the USMC validates its investment.
"What we’ve got now is an interface to present all of our product configuration data, other logistics product data and catalog information to any Marine Corps user that needs access to it. And that includes Marines in the Operational Forces, Headquarters Marine Corps, Systems Command, Logistics Command and other stakeholders – really anywhere, as that single authoritative and extensible product information backbone for the Marine Corps."