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Author's profile photo Tom Bishop

Leverage Defense OEM ILS Data to Unlock Agility, Resilience, and Readiness

For defense organizations worldwide, acquiring integrated logistics support (ILS) data from their OEMs has become a largely routine process. Most governments have established or adopted standards and specifications for defense OEMs to format and transmit the ILS data required to support nearly all military assets, and they receive the data products along with the article being procured. Unfortunately, even though OEMs generally provide exactly what is requested, the data itself isn’t always exploited for its true value.

ILS data packages come in different formats and sources, depending on the needs of the specific discipline along the system’s life cycle it is intended to serve. Ideally, a full suite of ILS data allows for complete and total support of an item or system from its development to its disposal. Regrettably, a wealth of ILS data elements is never made available beyond their designated purpose, which limits usefulness and adds effort and cost that can impact readiness. Access to all ILS data by any activity supporting the item or system can be a game changer.

Information access is limited

Optimized ILS data access is not only critical for field-level maintenance teams who are traditionally limited to whatever information made it into the technical manuals, but to the intermediate and depot teams who service and rebuild military assets entirely. Military, OEM, and third-party service providers are often challenged by a lack of data more focused on a system’s design than to its support. Without robust mechanisms in place to retrieve all information relevant to an item with a few mouse clicks, especially engineering and design data, service and support teams must resort to reverse engineering and inefficient workarounds to do their jobs. That’s why having access to every ILS data element can dramatically improve readiness.

Too many inefficiencies built into the data chain

The inefficiencies aren’t limited to transfers of ILS data from OEMs to their defense customers, they also exist within the OEMs themselves. A big challenge is that data doesn’t always flow from one team to the next within many OEM operations. The engineering data used to design the aircraft, the production data used to build it, and the service data used to maintain it after delivery all tend to remain within their respective teams and systems.

Too often for a given system or part, the relevant OEM design data (e.g., the actual blueprint for a part or its input/output data) tends to remain within the engineering silo. It doesn’t easily flow downstream for reuse by teams developing reliant support products such as test equipment, technical publications, and training systems. Without easy access to this data, OEM support product teams are left on their own to modify existing data products from previous programs or even develop them from scratch. These inefficiencies can add technical, cost, and schedule risk; reduce product quality; and result in lower customer confidence and satisfaction.

Moving beyond manuals to co-innovate with OEMs

While OEMs work to break their own information silos, their defense customers (and third-party servicers) need to move beyond OEM technical manuals to have all ILS data at their fingertips. At a minimum, organizations need to do a better job of unlocking access to the data they already have, making it available wherever, whenever, and to whomever it’s needed to improve readiness.

Defense organizations should be able to accept, use, and share ILS data instantly – regardless of its format or source and no matter how OEMs send the data. With greater system-to-system integration and real-time sharing of ILS data, defense customers can co-innovate with OEMs. In addition, by having access to every bit of knowledge related to a specific OEM part of system, defense customers can actually help OEMs to identify and troubleshoot problems that may affect entire fleets.

Intelligent automation can help break ILS data silos

Today’s data intelligence tools can help defense organizations find and retrieve ILS data wherever it resides, and deliver access on demand to any authorized individual, team, or system. This reduces complexity because no one has to make changes to existing data or proprietary systems. Legacy data can remain as-is in internal systems as well as OEM and third-party systems; there’s no need for data duplication or updating interfaces and master data to establish system-to-system connectivity.

By leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to automate ILS data access, defense organizations can significantly improve operational agility and responsiveness. Data can be delivered in real time to accelerate maintenance tasks and improve operational readiness, and data can be traced and verified across complex networks to improve auditability.

And that’s a big win for defense organizations as well as their external stakeholders.

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