Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) is a technique which was originally introduced by the US Army to improve the lifespan and reliability of military equipment by ensuring that the supportability of equipment is considered at every stage of its design and development. The technique was adopted by the UK Ministry of Defence in 1993 and made compulsory for the procurement of the majority of MOD equipment. In the MOD’s own words:
“Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) provides the disciplines for ensuring that supportability and cost factors are identified and considered during the design stage of an equipment so that they may influence the design, with the aim of optimizing the Whole Life Cost (WLC). Def Stan 00-60 defines the Ministry of Defence (MOD) requirements for the application of ILS principles for through life management of equipment. It is intended to be used, whenever relevant, in all future designs, contracts, orders etc. and whenever practicable by amendment to those already in existence.”
The aim of ILS is to address three aspects of supportability during the acquisition of the equipment.
1. Influence on Design. This is an iterative process during the design of the main equipment to ensure that supportability aspects are considered. This is to ensure that user maintenance and routine servicing tasks can be performed easily and that existing tools and techniques can be used.
2. Design of the Support Solution. Ensuring that the Support Solution considers and integrates the elements considered by ILS.
3. Determination and Procurement of the Initial Support Package. This calculates the requirement for spares, special tools and documentation is defined and that the quantity required for a given period is calculated, procured and delivered to support the delivery and operation of the main equipment.
The ILS management process facilitates development and integration of the 10 individual logistic support elements to specify, design, develop, acquire, test, field, and support systems. There are 10 ILS elements:
1. Maintenance planning
2. Supply support
3. Support and Test Equipment/Equipment support
4. Manpower and personnel
5. Training and training support
6. Technical data
7. Computer Resources support
9. Packaging, Handling, Storage, and Transportation (PHS&T)
10. Design interface
All elements of ILS must be developed in coordination with the system engineering effort and with each other. Trade-offs may be required between elements in order to acquire a system that is affordable (lowest life cycle cost), operable, supportable, sustainable, transportable and environmentally sound within the resources available.
The ILS planning for a system is normally contained in an Integrated Logistics Support Plan (ILSP). ILS planning activities coincide with development of the system acquisition strategy and the program will be tailored accordingly.
Since it was originally developed by the military to plan and execute the support of combat systems that were developed or acquired, ILS is now also being used by non-defence organizations to plan how the products that they develop will be supported throughout their life cycle. Supportability Engineering is a discipline which is closely related to and developed from ILS.