The term “Factory to Foxhole”, was born from the US Department of Defense’s focus to accelerate supply chain responsiveness and improve logistics based on lessons learned from Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 where some units that were in 21 days of continuous combat were reported to have not received a single repair part. Then Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld determined that a single point of ownership for distribution across all services was needed. Between factory and foxhole, there were too many transfers, too complex a network of distribution processes, and too little ownership.
Complexity of Defense assets in the Digital Age
Over the past 20 years, since the realization of this issue, many additional capabilities specifically within software and digitization have emerged. This means not only a change to how we manage the distribution of military assets but a change to those assets themselves. The F-35, for example is arguably the most complex aircraft ever built for defense. It consists of a vast array of avionics and sensors to enhance situational awareness for the pilot and is a quintessential single asset for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). Given the increased complexity of the assets like the F-35, ensuring that our defense organizations are effectively serviced with maintenance and spare parts in the digital “factory to foxhole” supply chain is essential.
Enter ESG, Elektroniksystem-und Logistik-GmbH, SAP’s partner for homeland and national security organizations. ESG and SAP have delivered a co-innovation project that digitizes documentation provided by the “factory” and creates a seamless transition to SAP’s defense solution for those in the “foxhole” with S/4 HANA Defense & Security (S4DnS). The factory in this case is actually the greater Aerospace and Defense (ASD) industry in which suppliers like BAE, Boeing and others provide detailed documentation in a standard format known as the S-Series Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) Specifications (S-Series ILS Specifications – ASD (asd-europe.org)).
Industry standards that define the “Factory” data
The international specifications are accepted as a standard in the ASD industry, and are categorized into seven different categories:
- S1000D focuses on technical publications using a common source database.
- S2000M focuses on material management and integrated data processing.
- S3000L focuses on logistic support analysis and quality checking integrated data.
- S4000P is used for developing and continuously improving preventative maintenance.
- S5000F focuses on in-service data feedback.
- S6000T is used for training analysis and design.
- SX000i is the guide for the use of the different S-series categories.
In the project, ESG used their product, Integrated Product Support Suite with SAP to digitize and integrate S-Series into S4DnS. This process ended with master data populated in S4DnS documenting defense assets and thus enhancing the ability to effectively execute maintenance plans, logistics, and change management. Typically, these data consist of hundreds of pages per asset including detailed schematics and parts descriptions.
Partnership focused on supporting those in the Foxhole
The digitization of ILS information into an operational system like S4DnS is, on its own, a major achievement. Several organizations have struggled with this topic for years by creating home grown systems that were unable to establish interfaces for all S-series data, interoperate with partner agencies and handle quality issues from vendors.
Beyond the value ESG provided to handle these issues, it has reduced the total cost of ownership, increased data quality and freed up 250 full time equivalent positions which would be responsible for managing the data. It further enables a streamlined management of the asset’s lifecycle into a single solution that governs the master data and enables integration into supporting solutions.
We look forward to further cooperation and co-innovation with our partner ESG as we aim to enable defense organizations to concentrate on the mission at hand. This is more apparent today more than ever, as increasingly nations need to cooperate on interoperable systems, using accepted standards that describe massively complex systems amidst ever increasing geopolitical instability and the effects of climate change. From the factory to the foxhole, let’s ensure our defenses have what they need, when they need it.