CRM is not just for the private sector, and — in a rather dramatic illustration of that fact — Siebel Systems has announced that its business applications will help maximize the readiness of the new Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.
Use of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software, such as Siebel’s product, is expected to increase overall weapons systems availability. With Siebel business applications, the F-35 JSF team will be able to support international warfighters anywhere in the world.
Specifically, the Siebel solution will provide the F-35 JSF team with a unified view of all maintenance activity, issue resolution, communications and inquiries, he said, allowing the warfighter, the F-35 and the JSF support organizations to exchange information easily and quickly.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program was designed to develop a family of stealthy, next- generation replacement fighter aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps; the U.K. Royal Navy and Royal Air Force; and allied forces worldwide.
Brian Stone, general manager of Siebel’s public-sector division, told CRM Buyer that the 12-year, 14-country project is out of the selection and procurement phases and into the design phase. He expects the Siebel rollout will support the first F-35 flights scheduled for the summer of 2005. In fact, the F-35 JSF team already is pulling together the needed support organizations for those flights.
Because of the long duration of the F-35 initiative, he added, Siebel expects the project to evolve in the future.
Where ALIS Comes In
As one might expect of a government rollout, there are some tricky acronyms involved. Siebel’s product, officially known as the Siebel Public Sector Solution for Improving Defense Logistics Management, will be just one of the core applications of the F-35’s Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS).
ALIS is the information infrastructure for the F-35, transmitting data on a global network to maintenance technicians worldwide. It is autonomic, meaning it can predict behavior based on internal and external stimuli without human intervention. The F-35 aircraft’s health and maintenance actions — even the location of parts — are generated through ALIS.
Currently, traditional aircraft require approximately 10 hours of maintenance for every hour spent in flight. As ALIS develops, it is expected to drastically reduce this ratio.
How It Works
In a nutshell, the Siebel product consists of three parts. One component is the service and logistics support segment, which tends to be reactive. This segment might involve accepting inquiries and service requests from the warfighter, the field or the garrisons, then turning them into service actions — dispatching personnel or going through a field service resolution process.
Another component preemptively identifies service downtimes by using “triggers” and metrics to flag when an F-35 or its parts need servicing.
Meanwhile, the third component provides complete asset visibility throughout the lifecycle of an F-35 and all of its parts. This component provides the history of the weapons system and focuses on how to minimize downtime — reduce the number of hours in which the plane must be maintained, reduce time between operational maneuvers and increase the aircraft’s overall availability.
Technology Business Research software industry analyst Steve Trotta told CRM Buyer that just like any company purchasing software, one of the main objectives of the Department of Defense is to reduce TCO by eliminating manpower, in turn eventually reducing costs for taxpayers. Siebel is just one small piece in this overall puzzle.
Indeed, according to Trotta, the U.S. military currently is undertaking a multibillion-dollar initiative to increase the efficiency of its massive supply chain through use of RFID technology and other software.
“If commercial software can be used to increase the efficiency of a process and decrease the DOD’s costs, it is a great thing,” Trotta said. “Siebel will undoubtedly have several opportunities to win other business with Lockheed and other defense contractors.”