A GUIDE TO GREATER ASSET AVAILABILITY

Upgrading an entire fleet of fighter jets is an intense and complicated project. You need to coordinate the incoming supply of parts and the timely execution of specialized tasks, all while tracking every step rigorously. Guidance is needed for the best next step to take, ILIAS’ Guide software solution provides this.

Continue reading

ILIAS SOLUTIONS SHOWS DEFENSE CAPABILITIES AT BLACK SEA DEFENSE AEROSPACE AND SECURITY EXHIBITION

Looking back at a valuable Black Sea Defense Aerospace and Security (BSDA) exhibition 18 – 20 May in Bucharest, Romania.

BSDA, the international tri service Defence, Aerospace and Security exhibition, takes place every two years in order to gather the whole offer and demand of the domains. It brings together worldwide exhibitors, specialized visitors and official military delegations around the world. The ILIAS team on site showed capabilities on maximizing fleet performance, operational readiness and optimizing the efficiency for the MRO industry.

Harry Barmentloo, Business Development Manager Europe: “We highly appreciated the hospitality of the Romanian government in this event and the support of the Lockheed Martin team, being BSDA sponsor. With our ILIAS team onsite we were proud showing the capabilities of our ILIAS platform to the community, based on latest technologies. We are all geared up for a long term business relationship with the Romanian Defense Forces”.

OPERATIONAL READINESS AT NATO NAEW&CF WITH ILIAS

The ILIAS Defense Platform is a commercial off-the-shelf software suite (COTS), specifically designed for the military environment. For over 25 years, ILIAS’ mission-oriented drive to logistics and sustainment seamlessly aligns operations, maintenance, training, supply and procurement, enabling military commanders to do more with less.

DAY TO DAY OPERATIONS IN ILIAS

At NATO NAEW&CF, ILIAS is used across main and forward operating bases to support operational readiness of the E3-A AWACS fleet. Since ‘going live’ in 2002 ILIAS has become the integration platform to replace multiple organic legacy NATO applications. PILS (Programme Integrated Logistics System) – as the NATO E3A instance of ILIAS is called – is considered operationally essential and provides crucial insights to support airworthiness and help achieve a high operational status of these NATO surveillance systems. An independent, NATO commissioned study, gave the green light for the use of ILIAS/PILS with a time horizon up to 2035+, when replacement of the current AWACS platform is expected / planned for.

Interview of Douglas Housel (Branch Head, Integrated Logistics Support – NATO E3A)

SUPPORTING FORCES GLOBALLY

ILIAS is in use around the globe, in Europe, North & South America and in the Asia Pacific region. Every day, military forces are supported through agile capability delivery by a team that understands their needs and by software that is designed for purpose. Whether it is about bringing a new weapon platform to Initial Capability or about driving more value out of the support of day to day operations, ILIAS will deliver solutions. We at ILIAS understand that missions matter.

BETTER SITUATIONAL AWARENESS

The ILIAS Platform provides users with a timely, accurate, and single truth regarding all information essential to military logistics and sustainment. Because the ILIAS Platform is weapon system agnostic, this is true for all weapon platforms managed by ILIAS. This leads to creating insights across platforms, like parts communalities, total asset visibility, and overall fleet management. For Depot Level Maintenance and complex modification programs ILIAS has proven to be second to none with regard to facilitating execution control: better situational awareness due to full data transparency and improved data quality resulting in shorter throughput times, and less man-hours spent per tail in total.

SIXTEEN YEARS OF TEAMWORK – CONTINENT AND CULTURE CONNECTED BY F-16

The Chilean Air Force, known in Spanish as “Fuerza Aérea de Chile” or FACh, traces its origins back to early days of the 20th century.
It has grown and evolved over the decades and its fleet now totals more than 200 aircraft, including a fleet of forty-five F-16 fighter jets.

There have been many milestones along the way, including the first flight over the highest peaks of the Andes in 1918. But there was another one, perhaps less dramatic, but no less important, 16 years ago. In 2006 they partnered with ILIAS, a decision that continues to shape both organizations. 

“In the 80’s, we had something called System 3000. It met our logistical need to handle our maintenance and our supply,” says General Jorge Verdugo of the FACh at the Congreso Internacional de Logistica in 2020. “When we purchased a second group of F-16’s,” explains General Verdugo, “we decided to acquire a new system.”

Some representatives of the Chilean Air Force were in the Netherlands to finalize the purchase. They took one look at the logistics software that Belgium was using and said, “We need this.” 

ILIAS OVERSEAS

It was an exciting opportunity for ILIAS Solutions: a chance to expand outside of Europe. “ILIAS was a pretty small company back then. We were just 40 people at that moment of time,” explains Pierre Van Brussel, Chief Engineer at ILIAS-Solutions. “We were essentially an IT company implementing ILIAS for the Belgium defense.”

The default language of all of ILIAS’ interfaces is English, but this was about more than teaching a new customer how to input data. Pierre needed to understand FACh; its needs and its culture.

“It is a modern organization. It’s one of the more mature Air Forces in South America,” explains Van Brussel. “I would say the culture is very pragmatic, very accessible. When you are exchanging information, they don’t make it too complex, they just stick to the facts.”

One thing the FACh has in common with every other large organization is that internally, some people were hesitant to embrace change.

“In the beginning, for the first two years, I heard I don’t like it. I don’t understand it. It’s too complex,’” Van Brussel recalls. “But after those two years, ILIAS was really adopted in the culture. We became seen as a state-of-the-art enterprise, providing a system that really gave concrete benefits. You could see a clear switch in the mentality. It’s been amazing.” 

THE START OF A VALUABLE PARTNERSHIP

“We started with our fleet of F16s,” says General Verdugo, during the ILIAS User Community Meeting 2021, “and today we have all our aircraft within ILIAS.” That includes their training aircraft and helicopters. For the last eight years, ILIAS has been at the center of the entire Chilean fleet.

“They love having one centralized system and it’s running well,” says Van Brussel. “Next to the scope, also the software itself grew in capability over this period of strong partnership. Capability that has been leveraged by FACh to generate a Single Picture of Truth and continuous improve processes. With so many aircraft and units spread over such a large country, a system like this serves as an orchestrator.”

Van Brussel says the next evolution is to make the system easier for the people working on the ground. That includes ensuring technicians in the field have tablets with them to update status reports in real time, and also to automate some of the data entry through the use of sensors. As such, data quality and with it the decision making capability, will improve dramatically. Also, the scope can be extended now to cover for the operational planning & scheduling processes, aligning operations and logistics even more tightly.

Continued refinement and development of both the software, and the way in which people interact with it, is crucial for this partnership to thrive for the future. 

More info:
Intervention of Gen Verdugo of FUERZA AÉREA DE CHILE 
Registered on 10 sept. 2020 during CONGRESO INTERNACIONAL DE LOGISTICA APLICADA Y AERONAUTICA UNIVERSIDAD MILITAR NUEVA GRANADA Y ESCUELA DE POSTGRADOS FUERZA AÉREA COLOMBIANA EN APOYO DE  
CIAC S.A | CORPORACIÓN DE LA INDUSTRIA AERONÁUTICA COLOMBIANA

See more on www.effac.edu.co

ILIAS SOLUTIONS AWARDED FINANCIAL BACKING FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IN THE CONTEXT OF THE ESSENTIAL SECURITY INTERESTS PROGRAM

Press Release

Brussels, 16 February 2022 – Brussels-based defence logistics software firm, ILIAS Solutions, is recognized as technology partner in the context of Essential Security Interests (ESI)-projects and Industry 4.0.

The ESI projects aim to strengthen the Belgian Defense Technological Industrial Base (DTIB). To achieve this goal, in many cases a transfer of technology and know-how for defense and securities policies is delivered. ILIAS Solutions provides with the defense management platform tangible technological added value for the Belgian industry.

The Belgian Defense (BeDef) works with a central management system for Maintenance, Inventory, Distribution, Budget, Material Management, Total Asset Visibility and Fleet Management covering all their assets. “We started building this incredible strength together with ILIAS in the early 90’s”, says Major Muës, one of the ILIAS specialists. “Our policy of integrated management in combination with the dedication of all ILIAS staff members, current and past, have contributed greatly to the ILIAS of today, an ILIAS that is being recognized by major world players as a very good, sustainable and flexible product.

For the BeDef ILIAS Solutions develops technologies to support the digital transformation, bringing the Belgian Armed Forces to Industry 4.0. To keep up with this fast-changing environment BeDef is looking for the latest data solutions; integration, track & trace and smart monitoring.

Jean-Pierre Wildschut, Managing Director ILIAS Solutions: “ILIAS developed over the last years I-HUMS (Intelligent Health & Usage Monitoring System) and the Total Asset Visibility concept for forces globally. Intensive knowledge building and product development which is beneficials to Industry 4.0.”

This financial backing creates opportunities for ILIAS Solutions to upscale their development capacities, with a top-notch team and be the #1 defense management system worldwide.

 

About ILIAS Solutions

ILIAS Solutions provides commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software, exclusively focused on defence, encompassing over two decades of best practice to ensure low implementation cost, time and risk. The ILIAS defence logistics software platform empowers military operations and defence industry organisations to minimize their logistics footprint while assuring mission readiness at all times.

ILIAS Solutions supports commanders in doing more with less, both for military operations and missions. The platform covers the entire armed forces value chain. It aligns operations, training and missions with maintenance, supply and procurement. The ILIAS software platform captures truth data, enables effective execution, allows military commanders to lead their people and maximize defence capability while managing constraints like budget demands and supply chain challenges.

ILIAS Solutions is ISO 9001 certified.

 

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Barbara Persoons, Corporate Communication Manager, ILIAS Solutions

barbara.persoons@ilias-solutions.com

+31 (0)36 75 19 757

OCEAN SOFTWARE AND ILIAS SOLUTIONS ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIP IN DEFENSE AEROSPACE SECTOR

Laurent Donnet, Ocean Software, European Military Adviser/ Jean-Pierre Wildschut, ILIAS Solutions, Managing Director/ Ashley Stevenson, Ocean Software, VP Operations – EMEA/ Maj. Filip Muës, Belgian Air Force, Squadron Commander/ Rob Lambrichs de Bruin, ILIAS Solutions, Business Development Manager

Date: 18th November, 2021

Melbourne-based defense and civil aviation software technology firm, Ocean Software, and Brussels-based defense logistics software firm, ILIAS Solutions, join forces to offer their integrated capabilities across the defense aerospace sector.  

The Ocean-ILIAS partnership presents a unique opportunity to combine two highly complementary software systems which, together, offer defense a seamless capability across the spectrum of logistics and operations. The integration of Ocean’s FlightPRO® operations management system and ILIAS’s logistics suite will deliver a seamless user experience, providing customers with a unified operations and logistics solution to maximize fleet performance and operational readiness.

Ocean Software’s CEO, Shaun Mitchell, said, “In an era where there is heightened demand on companies to be able to deliver value to their customers rapidly, new ways of working have become increasingly necessary; this includes the opportunity to partner with companies producing complementary toolsets. Teaming with ILIAS Solutions will allow both companies to bring greater efficiency to the market, bringing together two best-of-breed software tools that will benefit further from integration.”

Jean-Pierre Wildschut, Managing Director ILIAS Solutions: “Next generation aircraft require closely integrated operations and logistics efforts to optimize fleet performance. Our partnership with Ocean Software enables us to deliver a common operational and logistics picture to our customers. This assures logistics professionals are always aware of current and future operational demands and ready to take the next best action to support the mission.”

Shaun further added that, “Like ILIAS Solutions, we employ many ex-military staff, who inherently understand the problem and speak our customers’ language. We work closely with the chain of command and partner with the user communities to take an active role in developing tools that are a better fit for them and ultimately benefit the organisation as well.”

“Growing the integrated operations capability fits perfectly into the ILIAS product portfolio delivering an end-to-end solution while delivering mobile and deployed capability like IHUMS, Guide and DCM”, states Jean-Pierre.

About ILIAS Solutions

ILIAS Solutions provides commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software, exclusively focused on defense, encompassing over two decades of best practice to ensure low implementation cost, time and risk. The ILIAS defense logistics software platform empowers military operations and defense industry organisations to minimize their logistics footprint while assuring mission readiness at all times.

ILIAS Solutions supports commanders in doing more with less, both for military operations and missions. The platform covers the entire armed forces value chain. It aligns operations, training and missions with maintenance, supply and procurement. The ILIAS software platform captures truth data, enables effective execution, allows military commanders to lead their people and maximize defense capability while managing constraints like budget demands and supply chain challenges.

ILIAS Solutions is ISO 9001 certified.

About Ocean Software

For over 25 years, Ocean Software has helped defense organisations simplify their complex military operations. Our mission is to help unlock defense workforce potential in real-time to enable better decisions today, to plan for tomorrow and to prepare for the future.

Established in Melbourne, Australia in 1993, Ocean now exports its products and services to 15 nations across Europe and the Middle East, the Americas and Asia Pacific regions.  

Our flagship product, FlightPRO®, has transformed flight training management and operations across the globe, increasing safety and de-risking pilot training through its extensive scheduling and qualifications management engine. Ocean’s portfolio continues to grow with SmartBase® a next generation base management and collaboration platform, and TAMS™, an airspace booking and deconfliction tool that maximises the use of shared assets within congested airspace.

Ocean is a Microsoft Gold Partner and holds ISO 9001:2015 accreditation for Quality processes, procedures, and security. Ocean utilises the NIST Cyber Security Framework, has obtained UK Cyber Essentials certification, and its products are independently security tested.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:
ILIAS Solutions:

Barbara Persoons, Corporate Communication Manager

barbara.persoons@ilias-solutions.com

+31 6 41 51 15 12

Ocean Software:

Scott Alexander, Marketing Manager
scotta@ocean.com.au
+6 14 90 55 56 81

THE GREEK F-16 MODIFICATION PROGRAM IS UNDERWAY

The original F-16 fighter jet was built at a time when the world was in flux. It was the early 1970’s and the US Air Force had realized during the Vietnam conflict that their fleet wasn’t built for modern aerial warfare. The F-4 for example was struggling as a dogfighter because its attack profile was based on missiles.

“We needed to have something that could do close in combat,” says Elileen Bjorkman, a retired US Air Force officer and author. “We realized that we really do still need guns and short-range missiles.”

“They came up with the idea to build a day fighter,” she says. “It would be very basic. You’d be able to have lots of them so that we would be able to go up against the hordes of what the Soviet Union was going to be bringing to bear.”

That low-cost, limited use jet was the F-16, and despite its humble beginnings it has become one of the most popular fighter jets in the world. More than 4,600 of them have been built, and 26 different countries include them as part of their fleet.

“It started out with very little capability, but then as time went on and people started to realize that this was a pretty good airplane, actually we could do a lot more with it. It just started to evolve,” says Bjorkman.

That evolution process continues today.

Modern Modifications

Greece is in the midst of an upgrade program right now. The Hellenic Air Force is increasing the capabilities of eighty-four F-16’s, turning them into “Vipers.” This essentially brings the Block 52 aircraft up to the equivalent of a Block 72 configuration.

The logistics for such a project are, to put it mildly, daunting. The Viper upgrades extend to almost every aspect of the plane including the avionics package, radar capabilities, and cockpit display system, all connected by a high-speed data network. The additions also include an advanced weapons package. It’s a project where the details threaten to overwhelm the big picture.

The solution to that potential chaos is a software package by ILIAS Solutions.

“ILIAS is central to all this,” explains Harry Barmentloo, of ILIAS Solutions. “It’s like a big blender bringing all the different variables together, being IT systems, databases, all kinds of technical instructions, parts and planning cards. The big challenge is to organize it all and be in control of the full mod program. To do that you need to orchestrate all the different elements.”

The planning started in 2019. That included organizing the kick off with the project team consisting of Lockheed Martin (the project leaders),  ILIAS Solutions and the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI). It also means preparing to handle a huge amount of data; much of it being Hellenic Air Force operational data. That requires powerful and secure tools.

“We use a secured cloud environment, where according to the Lockheed security policies, we can hold the development, testing, and production activities, and keep track of the progress of the mod execution,” says Barmentloo. “We also keep track of the different shipments coming in from both the commercial supply chain, and through Foreign Military Sales.”

Patrick Conlan is the Lockheed Martin Depot Operations Manager for the Greece Viper Upgrade Program. He says they decided to use ILIAS as their management tool because the scope of the project was too big for any internal system.

“We deliver large kits with huge builds and materials, but mapping each one of those material requirements to a specific production need date, is something that has eluded us in the past,” he says. “We are dealing with both serialized and non-serialized items being delivered. We also have to track multiple items that are coming and going from Hellenic Air Force for the engine, the seat, the canopy, and the gun. All that needs to be managed and controlled.”

“And of course, what this all leads to is the ability to measure our cost and schedule performance; what we refer to as earned value management, or EVM. And through all this, we hope to capture management visibility and transparency, because as opposed to siloed reports and siloed systems, all of the information is flowing out of one system. We all get to speak with one truth.”

The project has served as a proving ground for ILIAS’s latest product: ILIAS Guide.

“What ILIAS Guide is doing for us is it turns each technician into a sensor,” says Conlan. “Each technician can measure the hours worked, start, stop times, also raise findings from their work and link that work to the planning card that they were working through. The intention is to better document the work and to demonstrate planned versus actual work.

Turning ‘technicians into sensors’ requires equipping them with tablets so they can capture data in real time. Knowing exactly how long each step of the process takes, and how many people it requires is crucial for planning future upgrades.

“By implementing the ILIAS software in Greece we have also standardized our organisation. The naming of locations, Mod docks, Warehouses, Repair centers have all been streamlined and formalized ” Conlan explains. “Having all of this information in one system has helped us to formalize that and convey that more effectively to our end users. It gives us a standardization of aircraft standardization data and a full spectrum of documentation.”

There are always obstacles

For Conlan, the biggest appeal of the ILIAS system is that it is built for the real world.

“We plan for a clean aircraft with no defects, and we plan to execute a mod on schedule, but that’s not reality. Determining the impact of ‘over and above’ was a critical concern. It was a lesson learned from previous programs and it’s something that we hope to catch through this program.”

Cristobal Desmaras, project member in Greece for ILIAS Solutions: “Before the pandemic, half of our time was spent attending in-person meetings. That might have seemed excessive then, but in hindsight, it was worth it.

“All those relationships that we built during the time and all those intensive workdays ended up paying off when it was a critical, while we were all quarantined at home working remotely.”

Through it all, the ILIAS software has kept everyone working with the same data, even if their physical locations were spread around the globe. Desmaras says, “Now that everything is digital you have to rely on your tools even more.”

Making progress

The project hit its first major milestone earlier this year. In January, they were able to complete modifications on the first jet and fly it to America. That plane is now in the US for further testing and modifications. Despites its travels from Greece, via Belgium, to Fort Worth Texas, it continues to be tracked and monitored through the ILIAS system.

It’s early, but Conlan is already seeing benefits of Total Asset Visibility, a hallmark of ILIAS Solutions.

“What we found previously is that a lot of this data was available, but it was rarely correlated and aggregated and put side by side. Going through the process of uploading the data from the various data sources gives us the ability to really measure the quality of the data. This also gives us a full-spectrum view of the mod program, from the development of the kits, the procurement of the materials, the delivery of the materials, the reception, the stocking, issuing to the planning cards, the installation onto the aircraft, and then the delivery of the aircraft and the flights. It’s all documented in one system.”

The program is expected to run until 2027, and when it is complete, Greece’s fleet of F-16 will be ready for an array of new roles.

“It’s now a much more capable airplane. You can do more missions than it was originally intended for,” says Elileen Bjorkman. “I wouldn’t be surprised though if we’ve still got F-16s flying somewhere around the world in another 30 or 40 years.”

ILIAS SOLUTIONS AND TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF DENMARK (DTU) PRAGMATIC AND SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TOWARDS PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE

The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) together with ILIAS Solutions have published their first scientific article.

The mission of ILIAS Solutions is to enable mission driven logistics by preparing the next best action. In order to enhance predictability, ILIAS has developed a unique holistic approach towards condition based maintenance.

To make this approach work ILIAS understands it needs to be pragmatic. Pragmatic in a sense that decision makers understand why and what they need to decide when. And at the same time scientifically based to give the decision makers the trust they have a solid base for their decision.

The three major pillars of this approach are:

  • Educating and warning the user
  • Enhancing the condition and even better the use of an asset to be the trigger for maintenance
  • Create an objective base for Performance Based Contracting

ILIAS has developed together with the DTU a method to create in a relatively short time a model-based algorithm to answer to a need of a customer.

The starting points are:

  1. Understanding the need of the customer and what the exact question is
  2. Creating a scientific (electro) mechanical model as a basis for prediction
  3. Enhance the model with Machine Learning to fill in the blanks and speed up the results

This all based on one basic set of data generated by holistic ILIAS Smart Sensors in combination with vehicle born CAN Bus data. Applying federated learning with the model developed with DTU, incorporating machine learning at the right levels, ILIAS is able to create algorithms within the ILIAS I-HUMS system. This algorithm can be embedded (over-the-air) in the ILIAS Smart Sensor to inform the driver (near real time).

DTU and ILIAS are proud to have achieved a major milestone in publishing the first model in Elsevier’s Mechanical Systems and Signal Processing (MSSP) magazine. The article describes a model for Mass Estimation, enabling the military to prevent overloading. This will reduce cost and enhance availability of the fleet by warning the driver. Colonel De Varé, from Belgian Defense, shares these valuable experiences on the most recent development for the Intelligent Health and Usage Monitoring System for the FOX vehicles.

TOTAL ASSET VISIBILITY WITH ILIAS

ILIAS Solutions is developing an Intelligent Health and Usage Monitoring System.

Total Asset Visibility is an essential concept in every military organization. It provides users with the timely and accurate information on the location, movement, status and identity of units, equipment, materiel and supplies. It delivers capability to act upon that information to improve overall performance and take the next best action in the logistic practices.

The Belgian Defense acknowledged this approach and is ready to mature this overarching solution. The most recent development is for the Intelligent Health and Usage Monitoring System for the FOX vehicles. Colonel De Varé shares his valuable experiences.

For the last five years, Colonel Filip De Varé has held a pretty important role in the Belgian armed forces.

“Until the end of last year, I was the Director of Land Systems,” he says. “I was in charge of all rolling equipment, including ammunition. It was very, very broad. It went from, let’s say, bicycles to combat vehicles.”

Then in January of 2021, his area of responsibility quadrupled. “Now I’m director of all weapons systems,” he explains. “So, now I also have the aeronautical systems, naval systems, and support systems. It’s approaching 10,000 assets.”

One thing that has stayed constant, and made his transition as seamless as possible, is his reliance on ILIAS Solutions software. It is a software suite that provides Total Asset Visibility.

“You can trace everything that has been done with an asset. For example, if you have to know the number of hours an aircraft engine has turned, you have that at your fingertips.”

It is not just engine hours. It also tracks wear and tear on the landing gear, the age of the batteries, and the weaponreadiness. All the information is held in one place so each person using it: the maintenance crew, the weapons team, or transportation personnel, can find what they need.

“You create your own view of the data,” De Varé says. “That’s total visibility. You can even go back in time to see what has happened on a particular asset.”

The Belgian forces aren’t the only force seeking Total Asset Visibility. It is an essential concept in every military organization.

If you want to fly, you have to make sure that everything’s in place,” says Harry Corstens, Business Development Manager at ILIAS Solutions. “If you do that right, you can maximize your flying hours. That is what ILIAS is doing.”

So for ILIAS Solutions Total Asset Visibility is all about mission readiness.

“The mission is everything,” says Corstens. “So, in order to prepare for a mission with a certain fleet of vehicles or airplanes, you need to be aware of ‘What do I need to do in order to be ready with the right vehicles and the right planes at the right time in order that I can fulfil my mission?’”

Sometimes that is as simple as having the right spare parts on hand. Missing a small detail like that can undermine an entire operation.

“If you need spare parts now, you should have ordered them a half year ago. So, if you do not plan in advance, and if you don’t have insight on your work order, if you don’t know what kind of quality of people you need, what kind of spare parts you need, then you’re always too late. And when you’re too late, then you will panic. And when you panic, you pay a lot of money for maybe not getting anything.”

The odds of that scenario playing out multiply exponentially when you are, for example, taking a squadron of F-16’s to the Middle East. That’s exactly the type of operation the Belgium Air Component is undertaking right now. The unit is operating out of Jordan, and to make the mission a success, they need to send more than just planes and pilots.

“We send what we call ‘fly-away kits’ with tooling, spare parts, et cetera,” says De Varé. “We also need to deploy ground support equipment, and airfield equipment. All that is managed in ILIAS.”

On the surface, ILIAS software is designed to organize equipment, but it’s not. It actually organizes people. A mission such as the deployment in Jordan involves a lot of people. Each of them knows a fragment of the big picture, but none of them know everything.

“A lot of people are talking and the thing they are talking about should represent the same information,” according to Corstens. “Everyone has their truth, but it’s not always the same as everyone else’s view of things. And if they interpret a certain element of information, and someone else looking at that same information interprets it differently, then it gets a little bit fuzzy.”

“ILIAS provides you with one truth. So at the moment you have to make a decision, everyone is basing the decision from the same sheet of paper.”

That works perfectly in theory, but as anyone who works with data knows, your end result is only as good as the quality of the raw information you allow into the system. No software can help you make good decisions, if you are feeding it with bad data to begin with.

That’s why acquiring great data has moved to the top of ILIAS’ priority list.

“To be honest, more often than not, humans are not creating valid data. So, we are trying to get the human out of the loop,” says Corstens.

That means using barcode scanning, or when possible, sensors. Barcodes are easy to use. Anyone handling a package of parts, fuel, or even an entire plane, can just scan the barcode and the entire system knows where it is. The downside is you don’t know what has happened to it until the next time it gets scanned. That might be hours, days or months.

“But if you track and trace it with a sensor, you can know where it is in real time,” Corstens explains. “Sometimes it’s not necessary to have that granularity and sometimes it is.”

For example, consider ground support equipment such as a hydraulic power pack. That needs to be close to the plane at the exact time you want to take off. With a barcode system, you don’t know exactly where it is or if it’s serviceable, but a sensor-based system will provide those answers instantly.

“That’s the goal of what we’re doing now with total asset visibility,” says Corstens. “To give the user the information when they need it, so they can act. ILIAS provides you with the next best action.”

“The thing is, we are a software company,” Corstens explains. “We have embedded a lot of knowledge and best practices in our software, and we deliver these capabilities, via training and implementation, to the customer. But in the end, it’s the customer that needs to incorporate this in their daily job. Value is generated via adoption.”

That’s the thinking behind an exciting product called “Intelligent Health and Usage Monitoring System” (I–HUMS® ). The technical knowledge comes from the ILIAS NVO team from Denmark working closely with the Danish Technical University, but the application is a need brought forward by the users, specifically, Filip De Varé and the Belgium forces.

“It’s a development program,” he explains. “We started it in late 2017 on our new jeeps for the special operations forces.”

The goal is to monitor the usage of those assets and evaluate the effectiveness of the current maintenance protocols.

“It’s the ILIAS SmartSensor, a black box we are installing on combat vehicles that provides us with a clear view on the health of the system. For example, on a combat vehicle, after 2,500 kilometers, you have to change the oil. Is that necessary?” asks De Varé. “We’re following what has been prescribed by the manufacturer. But after a couple of years of monitoring we’ve discovered that the frequency was too high, and we’ve been changing the oil too often. Now, with the help of the I–HUMS® we’re trying to make predictions on when to execute that.”

The ILIAS SmartSensor

It wasn’t just the oil changes they were monitoring. The Intelligent Health and Usage Monitoring System also told them they were being overloaded. “People don’t fill a vehicle at the maximum weight, they use the maximum available volume,” says De Varé.

Once they were made aware of this overload situation, it was easily corrected. And that can save a lot of money.

“When we talk to people about health and usage monitoring,” says Corstens, “they’ll ask us, what’s the business case? It’s not just about collecting information, it’s being able to act on it. Nine out of ten people I speak with embrace the idea that if you know more, you can predict better, and that can make your whole system more efficient.”

Efficiency is essential for someone like De Varé, who is starting his year off with a whole lot of new responsibilities and big plans.

“We have a plan with ILIAS over the next 10 years,” he says, “to optimize that predictive maintenance and condition-based maintenance. For me, that’s a big deal.”

COLORS OF THE WORLD

From the streets of Brussels to Athens, and even in Santiago or Sydney, we all understand the rules: Red means stop, and Green means go.  

“It’s an international standard,” says Marcelis of the colors on traffic lights around the globe.  Marcelis is a software engineer responsible for research and development with ILIAS Solutions, and since his software is used all around the world, he decided to borrow that traffic light color scheme.   “We use the red, green, yellow colors to show the state of certain assets,” he says. Red if something is in short supply, yellow means it needs investigation, and green tells the user that everything is within working parameters.

 Mio Adilman, the host of “Repeat Customer,” a podcast about customer experience, says using Red-Yellow-Green for a status reports is just a starting point.

“We know that our eyes and brains can distinguish and differentiate between about 10 million different colors,” he says. And each of those colors does certain things to us. 

Retailers have capitalized on these associations for years.

“In general, blacks and silvers are luxury products. Really bright colors are usually more affordable mass market things. If you think about McDonald’s and Walmart, those are cheap and cheerful,” he explains. “Warm browns and earthy tones are lifestyle brands, like Patagonia and those sorts of things. And anything that has a wood grain to it is seen as relaxing because it makes us feel like we’re outdoors.

That use of color can be put to work in product packaging, advertising, staff uniforms, even the color you paint the walls of your office.

“There’s a reason why when you go to a doctor’s office, it’s often very white,” Adilman says. “White can give you the sense that there is order in your environment. It has a stabilizing effect. It’s meant to project cleanliness and order, and put people’s minds at ease. 

Marcelis has to consider all that as he designs the latest generation of ILIAS’s software.  

I’m now working on a complete redesign of the user interface,” he saysWe’re doing a lot of research and it’s completely different from the existing one.  

That new iteration will rely heavily on one color: Blue.  

“Why did we choose blue? It’s the branding color of ILIAS, but it’s also a very soothing color,” Marcelis explains. “It’s very neutral. We didn’t want to be loud and aggressive.” Adilman agrees. 

“Blue projects trustworthiness,” he says. “You’ll notice that a lot of banks use blue in their logos and in their retail operations because they want to convey that sense to their clients.” 

Marcelis says he has been very intentional about how he applies it. 

“We use it to give accents to things, to really make them pop. It shows that things are interactive. Buttons are blue. If it’s the main button you are expected to press to follow the main workflow, then it will be blue, and it will really stand out. All the other buttons will be white with the blue text. So, you still know it’s interactive and it’s something you can do, but it’s optional. It’s not the main flow. 

 

Using colors to communicate is a great tool. It can convey information in a very bold and obvious manner (like the traffic lights), or the associations can be quite subtle (using blue to build trust). But you have to know your audience. 

“Colors are a language, and that language varies from culture to culture,” explains Adilman. 

“We’re working for big international defense organizations,” Marcelis adds. “So, by definition, we work with all these cultures as well.” 

That’s why he’s restricted himself to just the basics. There will be no orange, or pink, or brown in the latest iteration. As least until he can be sure that everyone seeing it reacts to those colors in the same way. 

It’s an ongoing effort,” he says. “We are always looking for better and improved interfaces.” 

Having dealt with the challenge of using color as a language, his next obstacle will be accommodating actual different languages. 

“It’s in English, in Dutch, in French, and in Spanish currently,” he says. But up next are some more challenging languages. “We’re working on incorporating special things like right to left languages because it has a huge impact on the entire interface as well. 

That is still to comebut if you stare long enough at the soothing shade of ILIAS blue, you’ll trust he’s going to figure it out.