What is ILS? - Part A

11 May 2022 1:31 PM | Anonymous

by Gary Pearce, ASCI ACT Chapter President and ASCI ILS College Secretary

This article is part A of a 3 part series.

Australasian Supply Chain Institute (ASCI) has introduced a fourth stream in their supply chain program, that being Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) along with the other three streams, Procurement, Operations and Logistics. The question, what is ILS? There are many descriptions that can answer that, which all are relatable, one definition I like is:

Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) is the management and technical process through which supportability and logistic support considerations are integrated into the design of a system or equipment and taken into account throughout its life cycle. It is the process by which all elements of logistic support are planned, acquired, tested, and provided in a timely and cost-effective manner.

ASCI ILS College has a definition:

Integrated Logistics/Product Support is a set of related disciplines focused on the cost-effective; definition, design, development, delivery, and ongoing operation of a harmonised Support System to specified Products or Product Families.


What is the origin of ILS? ILS was developed in response to the realisation that United States (US) Defense acquisition programs were often producing complex Materiel Systems that were unreliable, poorly supported and costly throughout their life cycle. This situation was exacerbated by the increasing cost of in-service support for such systems, with costs rising significantly as a proportion of total acquisition costs.

ILS originated in the 1960s in the US Department of Defense (US DoD) that identified deficiencies in its ability to support military hardware, particularly at a cost affordable to Congress. The need for an integrated approach to logistic support, involving production and through life support, hence Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) was introduced, also called military logistics.  The US DoD saw that without an integrated approach, they were producing ineffective and inefficient support solutions.

The Australian Defence Organisation adapted ILS during the 1970’s to have applicability during the In-Service Phase (and Disposal Phase) in the recognition that an integrated approach to monitoring and modifying Supportability for the Materiel System will ensure that the best balance between LCC and operational and preparedness requirements continues to be maintained.

ILS should be applied to ensure that supportability considerations influence the concept and design of an item and to ensure that logistic support arrangements are consistent with the design and each other throughout the item’s life.

The successful application of ILS will result in a number of customer and supplier benefits. For the customer, these can include increased satisfaction, lower logistic support costs, greater availability and lower life cycle costs. For the supplier, benefits can include lower logistic support costs, a better and more saleable item with fewer item modifications due to supportability deficiencies.

My experience in ILS is largely in Defence, therefore this article Defence centric. Can ILS be used in non-Defence environments, of course it can, industry and organisations have fleets of trucks, vehicles, forklifts, buses, trains, aircraft ferries, plus machinery, manufacturing facilities, information and communications technology (ICT), infrastructure, etc, just to mention a few.

By using the processes, principles and functions of ILS, non-Defence companies can achieve the same benefits, that is efficiencies and effectiveness over the life of their equipment/systems. Where Defence gets real benefit from ILS, which includes technical integrity, is capability support over its life, referred as life of type, which can be in-service from 10 years up to 40 years.

Imagine what could occur if a forklift or an ICT was kept in-service for up to 40 years without recognised/proper processes, sounds frightening doesn’t it. Later in a follow-up article a term called Integrated Product Support (IPS) will briefly be discussed, and how it is replacing ILS, to the point IPS fundamentally has the same functions and processes.

ILS objectives

ILS should ensure that:

  • logistic support considerations are integrated into item design at a very early stage in the design process – preferably at the concept stage
  • logistic support arrangements are developed that are consistently related to design (including intended use and intended environment of the item) and to each other
  • the necessary logistic support is provided at the beginning and during customer use and disposal at optimum cost
  • improvements are allowed to be made in the logistic support of an item throughout its life
  • to support necessary modifications; for example, changes required to deal with obsolescence.

Elements of ILS

The management framework of ILS is divided into key elements known as ILS Elements or Support Elements. Throughout the world the number of these elements vary, however in reality they all have a strong relationship, countries such as the USA and UK have variants of the elements. As an example, the ADF has ten key elements, shown in the figure below, which are those factors to ensure materiel can be supported whilst in service.

The individual elements contain a number of specific responsibilities within the acquisition and sustainment environment. It should be noted that each element has a strong association with other elements, and are ineffective on their own hence the word ‘Integrated’.


In the early 2000’s the ADF’s acquisition and sustainment organisation, known then as the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), today the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) introduced a variant of the ILS Elements referred to as the five Support System Constituent Capabilities (SSCC), which are overlaid in the above figure.

The reasoning behind this was the prime focus on the Materiel System. The Materiel System is a composite of equipment, skills and techniques capable of performing or supporting an operational role, or both and is the combination of the Mission System and the Support System.

The ILS Elements of Engineering Support, Maintenance Support, Supply Support, and Training Support map directly into the SSCC’s having the same names and functions. The other six ILS Elements are ‘product-based’ support elements, also referred as resource/enabler elements, map into each of the SSCC’s because these product elements are integral to the ability of each SSCC to perform its function and deliver services.

The fifth SSCC, Operating Support, delivers services for the operation of the Mission System, or directly enables the Mission System to be operated in its intended role.  Although Operating Support is an SSCC, it is not an ILS/Support Element because it does not have a logistic outcome; rather, it has an operational outcome.

The ILS Elements include all those functions and resources necessary to ensure that each Mission System can be, and contribute to be, effectively supported while in service. These can be seen from the following functions and descriptions. ILS activities associated with the elements are based on considerations, identification, processes, and not on physical day-to-day services.

To be continued...Part B and Part C to be released as a series.

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The Author

Gary Pearce is a retired ILS Practitioner with over 20 years direct ILS experience, and 50 years Defence and Defence Industry experience. He holds a Masters in Management Studies-Logistics (UNSW) and Master of Project Management (USQ). He also has accreditation as a Registered Practitioner ILS (ASCI), Certified Professional Logistician (Transport & Logistics Certification Council) and Certified Associate in Asset Management (Asset Management Council). In addition, he has an Associate Diploma in Engineering (Maintenance)-Electronics (ADF). Gary is currently the ASCI ILS College Secretary and ASCI ACT Chapter President. Previously he was a SCLAA Director and SCLAA ACT Division President.


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