Integrated Logistics Support Elements

The twelve elements of integrated logistics support
The Twelve Interconnected Elements of Product Support

This article briefly describes the twelve elements of Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) as currently recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). As the DoD and industry move towards a product-based support strategy, these elements are increasingly referred to as Integrated Product Support (IPS). The twelve elements of IPS are segregated into three categories with four elements in each category.

The source reference for these descriptions are from the Defense Acquisition University (DAU). (See “References“)

Product Support Management

This element covers the development and implementation of product support strategies to ensure supportability is considered throughout the system life cycle. Supportability is measured by the optimization of key performance outcomes; reliability, availability, maintainability and reduction of total ownership costs.

This Element will, through the Product Support Manager (PSM), provide continuous product support leadership throughout the system’s life cycle. The PSM provide reports to senior leadership on the status of key metrics and product support activities, and provides senior program subject matter expertise in all areas of life cycle product support.

Supply Support

The objective of supply support is to have the right spares, repair parts, and all classes of supplies available, in the right quantities, at the right place, at the right time, at the right price. The process includes provisioning for initial support, as well as acquiring, distributing, and replenishing inventories. Historically, supply support activities were the primary responsibility of the manufacturing group. The current view of integrated product support requires supply support to be implemented as an integrated strategy with all Product Support Elements and Program functional areas throughout the acquisition life cycle.

The supply support element is part of the larger Supply Chain Management (SCM). In its broadest sense, the supply chain touches on almost all of the product support elements. SCM includes the distribution, asset visibility, obsolescence and counterfeit parts mitigation of material needed for system sustainment.

Packaging, Handling, Storage, and Transportation

Frequently shown as “PHS&T.” This element focuses on all requirements involved with packaging, handling, storing and transporting not only the major end items of the system but also spare parts and other classes of supply and infrastructure items.

PHS&T covers the combination of resources, processes, procedures, design considerations, and methods to ensure that all system, equipment, and support items are preserved, packaged, handled, and transported properly. This element also covers environmental considerations, equipment preservation for the short and long storage, and all specialized material labeling requirements.

Maintenance Planning and Management

Maintenance planning and management is the development process that defines the repair and upkeep tasks, schedules, and resources, required to care for and sustain systems and equipment through their entire life cycle. The overall focus is to define the actions and support necessary to attain the system’s Operational Availability (Ao) objective at the lowest possible cost, for both hardware and software.

Historically, maintenance planning and management activities were the primary responsibility of engineering and product development. The current view of integrated product support requires maintenance planning and management to be implemented as an integrated strategy with all product support element areas, in keeping with KPP and KSA optimization goals and constraints. Current maintenance concepts include Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) and Condition Based Maintenance Plus (CBM+).

Category One

Life Cycle Sustainment Management
  • Product Support Management
  • Supply Support
  • Packaging, Handling, Storage, and Transportation
  • Maintenance Planning and Management

Design Interface

Design interface is the integration of the quantitative design characteristics of systems engineering (such as reliability, maintainability and availability) with integrated product support elements. This element drives the relationship of system design parameters and product support requirements to be balanced to meet system availability goals, design costs, and support costs. These design parameters are expressed in operational terms rather than as inherent values, and specifically relate to system requirements.

The activities of design interface should begin during requirements definition, and continue throughout the system’s life cycle. In each stage of the acquisition process, Life Cycle Logisticians should work as part of the PSM team with the key program areas of design and systems engineering, cost analysis, test and evaluation, and quality control, to ensure every aspect of the system is focused on meeting the required product support objectives.

Sustaining Engineering

Sustaining engineering supports in-service systems in their operational environments. This element includes the identification, review, assessment, and resolution of deficiencies for the purpose of returning an operational system to its baseline configuration and capability. Sustaining engineering may also identify opportunities for performance and capability enhancement through the collection and analysis of key metrics. The metrics may include measurement, identification and verification of system technical and supportability deficiencies, associated root cause analyses, evaluation of the potential for deficiency correction and the development of a range of corrective action options.

Typically, Business Cases Analysis (BCA) and/or life-cycle economic analysis are performed to determine the relative costs and risks associated with the implementation of various corrective action options.

Technical Data

Technical Data represents recorded information of a scientific or technical nature, regardless of form or character (such as equipment technical manuals and engineering drawings), engineering data, specifications, standards and Data Item Descriptions (DID). This element addresses data rights and data delivery, as well as the use of any proprietary data.

Technical Manuals (TMs), including Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETMs) and engineering drawings, are the most expensive and probably the most important data acquisitions made in support of a system. TMs and IETMs provide the instructions for operation and maintenance of a system. IETMs also provide integrated training and diagnostic fault isolation procedures.

Computer software documentation is a part of technical data management and is differentiated from the data category of “Computer Software”. Computer software documentation refers to owner manuals, user manuals, installation instructions, operating instructions, and other similar documents, regardless of storage medium, that explain the capabilities of the computer software or provide instructions for using the software.

Information Technology Systems Continuous Support

Formerly known as “Computer Support,” this element was re-designated “Information Technology Systems Continuous Support” by the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Product Support) in December 2019.

This element includes all computer resource requirements involved with a system. These computer resources include the facilities, hardware, software, documentation, manpower, and personnel needed to operate and support the computer hardware and software systems. Over time, the software programs for primary end items along with the support equipment and training devices are increasing in complexity with more and more software being used. As the software programs driving systems increase in complexity, the associated expense with the design and maintenance rapidly increases to the point where managing the process becomes critical to achieve cost effective designs that meet design requirements.

Computer programs and software are part of the technical data set that defines the current and future configuration baseline of the system. This technical data are necessary to develop safe and effective procedures for operation and maintenance of the system.

Category Two

Technical Management
  • Design Interface
  • Sustaining Engineering
  • Technical Data
  • IT Systems Continuous Support 

Facilities and Infrastructure

The facilities element consists of all permanent and semi-permanent real property assets required to support a system. This includes studies to define types of facilities or facility improvements, location, space needs, environmental and security requirements, and equipment. The goal of facilities management is to identify, plan, resource, and acquire facilities required to support training, maintenance, storage, and other logistic support requirements of the system at the lowest possible cost.

This element encompasses a variety of functions that focus on the life cycle design, construction, resourcing and maintenance of all facilities and civil works projects such as airfields, roadways, maintenance depots and ocean facilities. Due to the potential long lead times in funding, acquisition or construction, and resourcing, planning must start early in the design process to ensure system requirements are aligned to facilities planning objectives.

Manpower and Personnel

Often referred to as “M&P.” The terms “Manpower” and “Personnel” are not interchangeable terms. “Manpower” represents the number of personnel or positions required to perform a specific task. Manpower analysts determine the number of people required and available to operate, maintain, support, and provide training for a given system.

“Personnel”, on the other hand, describes the human aptitudes (cognitive, physical, and sensory capabilities), knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience levels that are needed to properly perform job tasks. Personnel factors are used to develop the occupational specialties and task requirements of system operators, maintainers, trainers, and support personnel.

The goal of this element is to identify, plan, resource and acquire the necessary personnel with the skills required to operate and maintain the system and equipment. Information from the manpower and personnel analysis will be directly used to drive training requirements.

Support Equipment

This element consists of all equipment (mobile or fixed) required to support the operation and maintenance of a system, but is not an integral part of the system. This can include but is not limited to; material handling, maintenance equipment, trucks, air conditioners, generators, tools, metrology and calibration equipment, Built-in Test Equipment (BITE), General-Purpose Electronic Test Equipment (GPETE), and Special-Purpose Electronic Test Equipment (SPETE).

Support and test equipment can be segmented into “common” and “peculiar” categories. Common Support Equipment (CSE) includes items that can be used with multiple systems. Peculiar Support Equipment (PSE) includes items that are unique to one system and have no other applications. This element also includes logistics support for the support equipment itself.

Training and Training Support

Training is the learning process by which personnel individually or collectively acquire or enhance pre-determined job-relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities; by developing their cognitive, physical, sensory, and team dynamic abilities. The training and training support element consist of all policy, processes, procedures, techniques, Training Aids, Devices, Simulators, and Simulations (TADSS), planning and provisioning for the training base, including training equipment, to acquire, operate, maintain, and support a system.

Training is normally performed as New Equipment Training (NET) and/or sustainment proficiency training for individuals and teams. Training strategy and techniques may include all or some elements of formal in-classroom programs, On-the-Job Training (OJT) with formal or informal mentoring, self-directed training, cognitive apprenticeship, or communities of practice.

Category Three

Infrastructure Management
  • Facilities and Infrastructure
  • Manpower and Personnel
  • Support Equipment
  • Training and Training Support
Ron Charest

Ron is a native New Yorker and 22 year Navy veteran. He retired from active duty in 1996 and went on to build a successful post-Navy career in logistics. Ron currently works for a major Government consulting firm based in Washington D.C., and together with his wife Weifang make their home in Northern Virginia.