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Life Cycle Logistics

Touring Product Support, Element By Element (Part 8)

Carrying on with our horse racing analogy, today we find ourselves heading into the far turn in our ongoing “Tour of Product Support, Element by Element”. Although it has been a few weeks since the…

Touring Product Support, Element By Element (Part 8)

Touring Product Support, Element By Element (Part 8)
Bill Kobren
Carrying on with our horse racing analogy, today we find ourselves heading into the far turn in our ongoing “Tour of Product Support, Element by Element”. Although it has been a few weeks since the last post in this extended virtual tour, today’s post marks the eighth in an ongoing 12-part series examining each of the twelve Integrated Product Support (IPS) Elements. Thus far on this tour we’ve examined seven elements: Product Support Management, Design Interface, Maintenance Planning & Management, Supply Support, Packaging, Handling, Storage & Transportation (PHS&T), Sustaining Engineering, and most recently, Technical Data.

Today we take a look at yet another critically important interdisciplinary element, namely Support Equipment Like each of the preceding elements, success again entails a range of multi-functional defense acquisition workforce professionals, including life cycle logisticians, systems and sustaining engineers, program managers, as well as anyone with involvement in production, quality and manufacturing, information systems, contracting and others. Key activities include, but are by no means limited to:
  • Manual and automatic test equipment management
  • Equipment design
  • Equipment commonality management
  • Maintenance concept integration
  • Ground handling and maintenance equipment management
  • Equipment capacity determination
  • Air conditioners requirement determination and management
  • Generators requirement determination and management
  • Tools requirement determination and management
  • Metrology and calibration equipment requirement determination and management
  • Deployability requirement determination management
  • Automatic Test Systems
  • Support Equipment Integrated Product Support


According to Appendix A of the DoD Product Support Manager (PSM) Guidebook, the objective of the Support Equipment IPS element is simply to “…Identify, plan, resource and implement management actions to acquire and support the equipment (mobile or fixed) required to sustain the operation and maintenance of the system to ensure that the system is available to the Warfighter when it is needed at the lowest total ownership cost.”

The PSM Guidebook goes on to describe the Support Equipment element as consisting of “…of all equipment (mobile or fixed) required to support the operation and maintenance of a system. This includes but is not limited to ground handling and maintenance equipment, trucks, air conditioners, generators, tools, metrology and calibration equipment, and manual and automatic test equipment. During the acquisition of systems, program managers are expected to decrease the proliferation of support equipment into the inventory by minimizing the development of new support equipment and giving more attention to the use of existing Government or commercial equipment.”

In many instances, like weapons systems themselves, support equipment very often may require its own product support tail. Additionally, an important nuance to be cognizant of includes the distinction between peculiar support equipment (required to support a specific weapon system, subsystem, or component), and common support equipment (used to support many different items, systems, subsystems, and components). Additionally, note as well the inclusion of test equipment, as well as tools (including hand tools).

Longtime life cycle logistics practitioners will again recognize the critical nature of the Support Equipment in the years since the issuance of the seminal November 2009 DoD Weapon System Acquisition Reform: Product Support Assessment report. They well understand how interconnected it is with the other elements, particularly maintenance planning and management, design interface, supply support, and training & training support. As I’ve shared throughout this series, not only the did the integrated nature of all of these elements accelerate the transition from Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) to Integrated Product Support (IPS), it also highlighted their interconnected nature as key enablers of wider life-cycle management and product support requirements outlined in 10 U.S.C. 2337. Bottom line: Support Equipment, like each of the other IPS Elements we’ve examined during this tour, serves a key enabler of affordable readiness!

As I will continue to reiterate at each stop in this blog series, the operative word for each of these 12 IPS Elements is “integrated.” Decisions made in or for one element routinely have major – and occasionally unintentional -- implications across each of the others. As I’d also shared previously, this critically important product support element transcends functional communities. Support equipment decisions directly impact each of the other eleven elements, and in so doing, each element aligns, integrates, and addresses key “ilities” including reliability, availability, maintainability, supportability, affordability, sustainability, suitability, habitability, and transportability, among others. As I also previously shared, the term “ilities” is so ubiquitous and so pervasive in the acquisition arena that it actually has its own definition in the DAU Glossary!

Finally, as we stop of at each of the elements along this extended 12-part IPS Element tour, it’s worth remembering that your DoD and DAU life cycle logistics colleagues offer a myriad of references, resources, training and tools to assist you in better understanding the nuances of these elements, (and the integrated nature of product support) including but by no means limited to:


Next up: Training and Training Support!