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White paper: Defence On Demand

The Role of Data-Driven PLM

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Defence On Demand: The Role of Data-Driven PLM

Defensive technologies, tools and tactics are changing rapidly. As noted by research firm Deloitte in their recent whitepaper, Defense Trends 2020: Investing in a Digital Future, “digital technology is reshaping the nature of combat and the nature of business, and defence companies need to transform nearly every aspect of how they operate in order to compete.”

What does this mean for defence agencies? No longer is a plane just a plane or a ship just a ship. Instead, they now exist as hybrid resources — physical/digital nodes that contain vast amounts of usable data, so long as defence organisations can access it. For example, an aircraft on patrol isn’t simply evaluating potential threats and assessing current conditions; connected onboard sensors are automatically collecting relevant data and routing it back to command installations for further analysis.

Commensurate with the evolution of these technologies, however, is their increasing cost. Combined with emerging budgetary constraints and expectations around spending transparency, government defence agencies must justify purchasing decisions in part by demonstrating the ability of these assets to deliver significant value over time — and it all starts with robust product lifecycle management (PLM).

The Evolution of PLM

PLM isn’t a new concept: agencies have always seen the value in extending the actionable lifecycle of assets within their organisation. The integration of new data-driven technologies, however, such as always-connected IoT sensors that leverage edge and cloud computing, or the use of artificial intelligence tools in defensive frameworks to help manage and maximise operational strategies in-situ have created new challenges: Now, PLM strategies must address both physical and digital lifecycles in tandem, despite the fact that these lifecycles are often discontinuous.

In practice, effective PLM approaches must include:

Product
data
management

Engineering
change
management

Supplier and
partner
collaboration

Product
and part
classification

Configurable
design and
building

New product
development

Product
data
integration

End-to-end
product
management

Worth noting? These discrete stages aren’t enough in isolation. To ensure a 360-degree view of each asset, organisations need tools capable of combining operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) datasets across the entire lifecycle — from inception to decommission to disposal. Achieving this goal requires robust software solutions capable of collecting, connecting and curating asset data on-demand.

The Defence-Driven Role of PLM

As defence agencies adapt to meet the increasingly data-driven reality of military engagements and asset management, six key factors are driving the need for comprehensive PLM:

Uniquely complex, recapitalised assets. With aircraft, tanks and ships commissioned over decades, each is designed, built, serviced and maintained in a specific way. Spare part management, which includes configuration and change management, is critical in defence. Recapitalisation of fleets is ongoing, and with the challenge of asset life extension, the refurbishment and planned obsolescence is one of the most challenging KPIs. The authorities and complex protocols for managing all the necessary data over a 25-40 year life, plus a further 30 years after decommissioning, are significant.

Software-defined products and assets. Today’s smart defence assets must be maintained and configured accurately, with immediate access to spare part information, for example. Software-defined communication systems and electronics include highly complex interdependencies that must be monitored, maintained, updated and secured. At the same time, software costs have increased significantly and must be tightly managed. Without PLM, the complexity of managing relationships between software and hardware and between electronics and controls, and the inter-operability needed for data-sharing between stakeholders will be become increasingly challenging.

Data ownership, IP management, security control and governance. Over time, and as products become more complex, the boundaries between data owned by defence organisations and that by Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEMs) are becoming increasingly blurred. As in the IT services sector (which has moved from legacy systems to virtual service, to micro-service architectures with massive reusability and open platforms), defence contracts and supply chains are evolving and new forms of competition and collaboration are opening up. Gaining control of data governance and security is critical to the digital future of defence in which data will be remunerated as a key asset.

Integrated product development, logistics and support In defence, as in other sectors, product lifecycles are evolving to integrate the engineering view of an asset with the service management view. As connected assets and infrastructures become increasingly intelligent, service management can be optimised to drive down costs, reduce downtime and so on. Ready access to integrated data is critical to this evolution.

Supply chain resilience. Keeping equipment in working order is critical to the success of military operations. Therefore, defence capacity must remain predictable, even in degraded geopolitical conditions.

PLM in Practice

It’s one thing to talk about effective PLM processes, but what does this look like in practice?
The Australian Department of Defence is currently undergoing its largest growth journey in the country’s maritime assets since World War II. The Australian Department of Defence’s vision of future maritime support capabilities, Plan Galileo, has identified key transformative needs, including:

01

Integration of environments to promote increased levels of innovation and knowledge sharing

02

Adoption of mature technologies that deliver improved ROI

03

Enhancement of data analytics for rapid and informed decision-making

04

Increased productivity from key technology platforms

05

Interruptibility of data sharing between assets during operations

In combination, these needs speak to the increasingly cohesive nature of PLM: assets must deliver key data to drive knowledge sharing that helps improve productivity, increase ROI and ultimately enhance overall cost management.

Atos is prepared to help meet these emerging PLM needs with smart solutions, including:

Predictive maintenance for operational effectiveness. The future of maintenance operations is based on interactive processing of data. By better informing the planners across a wide series of data streams such as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Inventory and Supply and Condition based maintenance approaches, digital technologies can make predictive maintenance a reality. Maintenance of military equipment can be predicted, anticipated and organised thanks to advanced data management system leveraging Digital Twin and Smart Asset and Management Platform using
AI and IoT approaches.

Decentralised architecture to support offline operations. While ships are at sea, the Navy must be able to connect with them. Defence assets need to be equipped with deployable synchronisation tools and decentralised architecture that can support offline service operations.

Seamless customisation configuration and extension. PLM must be flexible and adaptable to any current and future requirements, with reduced software development overheads. It will allow Defence to create ecosystems of applications that are modular and reusable, to customise and overlay their processes using well-defined, easily built, effectively executed, trackable and traceable, automated task flows.

Transforming data into knowledge

In defence, delivering the right data filtered with the right scenario at the right time to the right person can be a matter of life and death. The right strategy on meta tagging can unlock speed of information sharing and enable data driven leadership to make rapid and informed decision supported by 100%
accurate data.

“For well over a decade, Atos has been supporting Defence across critical ICT systems while, at the same time, bringing innovation to Australia with the introduction of proven, worldclass military solutions.” Said Florence Douyere, Managing Director Defence, Atos Australia. “We are proud to be a
trusted partner for Defence organisations worldwide and we are looking forward to helping shape the future of Defence’s sustainment in Australia & New Zealand.”

The Future of Digital Defense

As the technology market shifts toward more open-source and composable solutions, defence agencies are looking for ways to regain control of their own data. Rather than being tied to potentially problematic and proprietary solutions that offer limited interoperability, military decision-makers want to gain granular visibility over key assets — without giving up control.

The result is an increasingly diverse future for digital defence that includes technologies such as:

Secure 5G. 5G networks offer network throughput up to 100x faster than their 4G counterparts, making them a must-have for data-driven defense applications such as tactical information sharing, strategy development and proactive maintenance reporting. But speed alone isn’t enough — these networks must also be protected by robust security to ensure critical military data isn’t compromised at rest or in transit.

Collaborative VR. Collaborative virtual reality (VR) tools now make it possible for design teams and engineers to digitally examine and interact with defensive designs or asset improvements before they’re put into production. In practice, this provides the opportunity to identify potential problems and develop more efficient frameworks that can then be applied at scale.

Swarm Intelligence. Swarm computing leverages autonomous edge devices to create intelligent networks capable of responding on-demand to emergent situations. At scale, this solution could be used to better understand large-scale tactical conditions, while at the asset level swarms could help identify potential problems before they become costly issues.

AI, Automation and Machine Learning. With intelligent automation trained to identify predictive maintenance needs and conduct remote repairs in geographically and physically hard-to-reach places, automation will increasingly replace human resources. Machine learning will generate knowledge repositories that include data in multiple formats, from video clips to soundbites, for continuous knowledge management, accessible by partners via PLM along the supply chain.

Digital Twinning. 5G networks, VR, swarm intelligence and AI are now coming together to underpin the creation of digital twins — digital duplicates that are intrinsically connected to their physical counterparts. This twinning takes place as assets are being produced; digital twins are created to reflect every part added and every change made during the production process.
Assets are then equipped with sensor and connective technologies that permanently link them to defence infrastructure frameworks to provide a continuous reflection of current asset status. The result? Inherently proactive PLM.

From sustainment to sustainability

Carbon reduction improves efficiency, reduces costs and drive innovation. Atos is committed to help defence achieve net zero with digital solutions such as:

  • Digital platform management that integrates Inventory Management and fleet maintenance program planning will reduce general transport and crisis shipping of parts or support equipment. This in turn will reduce overall Supply Chain and maintenance operation costs.
  • Better efficiencies in maintenance operations give corresponding reductions in fuel consumption and total cost of ownership.
  • Data driven, conditioned based maintenance approaches prolongs the service life of equipment and prolongs the need for replacements or overhauls.

Navigating the Next Generation

The future of defence is digital. To navigate the next generation of military engagements and equipment expectations, agencies must deliver on the potential of data-driven PLM strategies to capture mission-critical insight, empower strategic development and proactively improve asset lifecycles.

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