Q&A: Working with an experienced Logistics Support Analysis partner

Heavy equipment manufacturers know most of their equipment's lifetime cost is incurred after it's fielded. Scheduled maintenance, repair tasks, manpower, and other requirements should be well-defined and properly analyzed from the beginning to get the most value over its lifecycle and realize true return on investment.

Successful Logistics Support Analysis takes a structured approach in defining, analyzing, and quantifying maintenance and support requirements to optimize equipment performance. At ONEIL, our dedicated team of Logistics Support Managers work with military and civil customers to ensure their mission-critical equipment is safe, reliable, and properly maintained from early concept to end of life. We sat down with Paul Marx, ONEIL Logistics Support Manager, to discuss this process and the value he and his team bring to our customers each day.

As Logistics Support Manager, you help ONEIL customers save time and money. What types of research and analysis do you perform to help them get the most out of long-life equipment?

Product Support Analysis (PSA), formerly Logistics Support Analysis (LSA), involves research of nearly every aspect of equipment that needs maintenance support throughout its useful life. I most frequently perform Level of Repair Analysis (LORA) which is a software-supported algorithm and reporting tool that determines the most cost-effective level of maintenance where the repair of equipment should occur.

The LORA provides insight to customers, allowing them to make budgetary and future equipment and facility decisions for a projected number of years. The LORA is also a tool used to gain political budgetary allocations for new equipment and support for the life cycle costs of the equipment. With some information about the equipment entered into the software, algorithms are run that produce tangible reports and repair-level decisions. A human can then make an "informed" decision.

In line with the LORA, often a Maintenance Allocation Chart (MAC) is developed to assist maintenance writers with a set of known tasks to be written and to give the end user of the manual the ability to see what tasks they will perform on a given piece of equipment. This report is often a section within a maintenance manual and can change over time.

A third product of analysis and one that goes hand-in-hand with the MAC is a Maintenance Analysis (MA). Typically a spreadsheet, this report is a one-stop place to see the overall PSA that has been performed throughout the logistics analysis process. This report usually contains equipment component parts information, who can repair it, how long it should take, tools needed, failure information, cost, and reflects what PSA was performed.

All three of these PSA processes are living documents that can morph as equipment conditions, age, history, usage, and geographic location change. For that reason, analyses are repeated every few years during the life cycle of the equipment. These reports often go from "Predictive" in nature to "Measured" analysis and become more accurate over time.

How does Product Support Analysis contribute to customer success?

PSA is critical to the success of a customer in that decisions on the cost of maintaining a piece of equipment for many years can be made early on. These decisions can be made while the equipment is still in development and the manufacturing phases of a life cycle. The PSA on a piece of equipment can lend insight into what support equipment will be needed, what facilities will be needed to repair it, personnel requirements, their level of training, and on and on. With that in mind, a piece of equipment may be designed slightly differently based on knowledge that a trained workforce and facilities are already in place for it, and that means cost savings for everyone.

How do end users benefit from Product Support Analysis?

PSA is a means to see into the future and know what you and taxpayers will spend to keep equipment working and performing at its best. Engineers and manufacturers can pre-plan much of what they're doing based on solid historical evidence of similar types of equipment and the analysis of its performance. This can be significant cost savings to manufacturers and taxpayers. Any project that realizes cost savings in both areas can be sure of future work coming in the door.

What does a successful Product Support Analysis program look like?

A solid PSA program reaches out to get analyses done at the most thorough level based on the complexity of the equipment and the length of time its use is anticipated. With a solid team of people and many years' experience in maintenance of equipment at ONEIL, the best and most cost-effective way is often already known. In a nutshell, a simple piece of equipment may not need as much analysis to know how it will perform, but the more a customer invests in its engineering and development, the more important PSA becomes.

Realization of the cost of equipment development and maintenance ahead of time ensures the focus is on customer satisfaction. That is a win-win.

Each day, Paul and his team perform a wide range of critical analyses to optimize support strategies for customers of all sizes and product lines. Learn more about how ONEIL supports the complete product life cycle with Logistics Support Analysis and, as always, contact our product support experts with your questions. Chances are, we've answered them before.

What's it take to develop top quality Mil-Spec manuals?

Mil-Specs (aka military standard, MIL-STD, or MIL-SPEC) are a defense specification used in standardization by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to ensure the compatibility and consistency of logistics systems and equipment. In technical manuals, Mil-Specs ensure a reliable experience for the end user.

At its core, a quality technical manual for any complex piece of equipment provides effective maintenance and operating instructions for the reader. Since end users of varying skill levels rely on this information, it must be accessible, concise, and easily understood. Additionally, Mil-Specs establish technical content and functionality requirements as well as mandatory style and format for equipment and vehicle system technical publications. A critical element of a quality Mil-Spec manual is its adherence to these standards.

At a minimum, authors of Mil-Spec manuals should be very familiar with the DoD standard practice for the development of such publications, with a solid understanding of all military specifications, standards, and handbooks. These are updated regularly and include a summary of revisions with each release. Still, novice technical writing firms are at risk of overlooking key details. Standard practice for developing Mil-Spec manuals comes with its own set of considerations that even a seasoned author might overlook from time to time. After decades in the product support business, we like to think we've seen it all from customers and competitors.

From stylesheets, matrixes, and callout rotation to initial setups and verbatim text, there are many elements that could be missed. We've seen this happen when customers attempt to develop content in-house with inexperienced staff, and we often help organizations who previously outsourced the work to other technical writing firms who ultimately failed to meet requirements.

Bottom line: authoring Mil-Spec manuals requires a level of expertise you can't find just anywhere.

Remember the regular updates mentioned above? At ONEIL, we have protocol in place to ensure all content we develop adheres to the latest standards. With years of experience following military specifications and handbooks, staying up-to-date on DoD revisions is our priority. And, once content is developed by our seasoned staff, it undergoes stringent internal quality and compliance review. We understand that ultimately, Mil-Spec manuals are intended to keep our warfighters safe with effective product support information they rely on.

Customers old and new contact us when they have a need for new Mil-Spec manual development, or when they have existing technical publications that require revisions as standards evolve. Whatever the circumstance, our team of experts takes pride in getting it right.

Outsourcing technical publications: why customers turn to ONEIL

We're often contacted by publications managers who've found themselves in the weeds managing their organization's technical publications initiatives. Often, they already have in-house personnel capable of creating some of the material, but they soon realize bandwidth is limited and they're in over their heads when it comes to meeting quality, delivery, and-- especially-- compliance needs. Specification types vary by industry, but this scenario isn't uncommon.

Take the defense sector, for example. Why do customers turn to ONEIL for help with their technical publications?

Finding experienced and qualified staff can be difficult, so ONEIL customers appreciate our robust team, expansive campus, and years of hands-on experience working with military equipment and personnel. We understand the impact and importance of quality content for the warfighter. Safety and quality will always be our primary focus when developing technical content and supporting mission-readiness in the field.

Building the necessary infrastructure to properly and efficiently produce technical publications takes time and money. Customers rely on ONEIL's existing technology, software, licenses, and best-in-class information security standards to deliver the right product support information at the right time. Whether it's in the form of a ready-to-use paper manual or an electronic environment, busy publications managers count on us to meet all quality and delivery criteria, allowing them to focus on other efforts.

Complying with DoD standards and specifications can be overwhelming for those unfamiliar with current requirements, but developing compliant product support information is part of the ONEIL mission. Customers know we have a reputation for meeting standards their own teams may inadvertently miss (sign up for our newsletter to read about some of the most commonly overlooked Mil-Specs!). We've even helped organizations whose previous strategic business partners unfortunately failed to meet requirements.

Across defense, aerospace, and commercial markets, we've seen it all... and we take pride in being the compliant choice. Get in touch to hear more about our unmatched product support experience.

Keeping our warfighters safe with world-class IETMs

For decades, we've produced all types of technical material, including an increasing number of Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETMs) for our customers in commercial, defense, and aerospace markets.

When developing IETMs, we prioritize keeping the end user safe and their equipment performing optimally. While this doctrine holds true regardless of industry, the defense arena comes with its own nuances we must carefully address to keep our warfighters safe. How do we do this? The key is easy interpretation of procedural steps accompanied with vivid graphics, animations, and interactive schematics, while keeping the different levels of warfighter Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), training, and experience in mind. This allows for quick access to useful information when it's needed most.

What else does ONEIL do to deliver world-class IETMs to our warfighters?

→ IETMs are written to military specification and standards which ensures content is listed in an applicable and effective order. General warning summary, equipment description, and theory of operation are purposely ordered before procedural content to ensure the warfighter has information needed to familiarize themselves with equipment and systems. IETMs provide the warfighter quick content access, part information, and efficient procedural step-by-step instructions for operating, maintaining, and troubleshooting equipment.

→ IETMs identify potential personnel and equipment hazards, risks, and safety concerns in each work package. They contain warnings and cautions with visual icons and detail of the danger that must be acknowledged prior to the warfighter continuing to the next procedural step(s). Warnings and cautions are used reasonably to preserve their value and to avoid overuse.

→ Individual work packages contain information listed in an initial setup section providing the warfighter materials, parts, and tools needed to perform each task. Any other procedural tasks needed to be completed before beginning a task are listed in the initial setup as well. This allows the warfighter to prepare and ensure all items are accounted for prior to operating, maintaining, or troubleshooting equipment.

At ONEIL, many of our employees are military veterans, adding a wealth of field experience when creating IETMs that keep warfighters and military equipment safe. Learn more about our our technical manual development process and download the brochure for more information.

Go digital: 3 ways intelligent schematics make field support easier

One thing MRO, Fleet, and Field Support Managers have in common: they're sick of highlighters. The more complex their equipment, the more intricate the schematics, which means technicians spend a lot of time fumbling through binders of multi-sheet diagrams, then manually tracing wires and connectors to get to the root of failure. Simply put: the troubleshooting process is painful.

Let's work smarter.

Converting your electrical, pneumatic, or hydraulic diagrams to a digital environment is the first step in simplifying workflow (and reducing frustration). When your crew can quickly maneuver through the technical data they need--whether they're in the office or in the field--you'll notice a few major benefits:

  1. Reduced downtime (and therefore, cost). Why should troubleshooting be so labor-intensive? You've heard your techs mention it can take longer to trace back to the failure point than to actually repair the issue. With an intelligent schematics solution like ONeVIEW™, wires and components are hotspots, circuits are "turned on" via colorizing, component details are enriched, and the user can easily zoom and pan between sheets without missing a beat. And, with the option for could-based delivery, users can get the information they need anytime, anywhere.
  2. Reduced human error. Trying to keep your place as you leaf through several reams of paper to determine where that ground wire leads? Good luck. ONeVIEW's interactive interface allows users to interact with schematics by clicking into customizable, color-coded lists with direct links to the component they're searching for. It'll bookmark relevant areas and even populate a list of associated components. Make things even easier by tapping associated attachments to see exploded-view images for a clear, visual indication of what the real-world part looks like.
  3. Better training. A new generation is replacing your retiring field techs--do you have a plan to maintain that knowledge? Intelligent schematics are user-friendly and include the 3D renderings this generation expects. ONeVIEW even offers training modules and videos to catch your team up to speed now and in the future with automatic updates as equipment changes over time.

We're well-regarded in many industries for our product support solutions, and with good reason.

Let us introduce you to our ONeVIEW intelligent schematics solution and take your from-to processes from lifeless to interactive. Download the ONeVIEW brochure when you're ready to ditch the highlighters for good.

ONEIL’s "Exceptional Quality" recognized at Harris Supply Chain Conference

In case you missed it on Business Insider, we recently visited the Harris Technology Center in beautiful Palm Bay, Florida, where we were presented the "Exceptional Quality" Supplier Award during the Harris Supply Chain Conference. ONEIL Director of Operations, Erik Shelton, shared his thoughts on behalf of the team:

"We're pleased to receive Harris' "Exceptional Quality" Supplier Award, as we've prided ourselves on superior strategic partnerships and delivering world class quality to our customers for more than 70 years. This award is a clear indication of our continued commitment to excellence, to Harris, and to our nation's Warfighters."

As Harris' strategic partner in the U.S. Army's Modernization of Enterprise Terminals (MET) Program's Integrated Logistics Support and Products, we proudly develop Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETMs) to support our troops with the mission-critical tools they depend on in the field. The IETMs we produce allow the user to easily interact with complex information- anytime, anywhere- when expedience and accuracy matter most.

It's easy to see why we're an authority in this domain: nearly 40% of our team has prior military experience and intimate understanding of the tools needed for mission readiness. Also easy to see: we're receiving a growing number of IETM requests from our customers.

The MET Program also announced ONEIL has maintained a zero-defect record with the Program since 2012, stating ONEIL "has been a great partner supporting a number of product lines over the years. Their continued support has allowed PdM WESS to provide quality technical documentation and training to the SATCOM Community at large. They have always been open to and willing to implement improvements when identified to improve support to the Warfighter."

Congrats on a job well done to each of the ONEIL team members who contributed to this effort and who continue to provide exceptional quality to our customers each day.

Pictured left to right: Electronic Systems Supply Chain Senior Director Carrie Eubanks, ONEIL Program Manager Mike Grammer, ONEIL Director of Operations Erik Shelton, Electronic Systems Vice President of Operations Robert Kirsch.