What does Leidos do? Part 5: Operations and Logistics
What does Leidos do? In this series, we answer that question by exploring the core capabilities that power the solutions we provide for our customers. Today’s interview with Lisa DeVine covers the area of operations and logistics.
Here’s what she had to say.
How does Leidos define operations and logistics?
Generally, most would define it as supply, maintenance, and transportation. At Leidos, we use a broader definition. Operations and logistics includes the big three, as well as training and operations, integrated product support, readiness and field support. There are subsets within each area. For instance, maintenance includes repair, overhaul and modifications.
Our company’s strength is our ability to execute complex, integrated logistics operations.
Does Leidos always do operations and logistics at a large scale?
Leidos does logistics at all scales, although what differentiates us is our ability to execute operations at large scale. It is relatively easy to find companies with expertise in shipping, warehousing, or maintaining. We have the functional expertise in logistics, enterprise IT, and data analytics to manage really large projects. Our company’s strength is our ability to execute complex, integrated logistics operations.
For example, we have a program called the Logistics Commodities and Services (Transformation), or LCS(T), which supports the U.K. Ministry of Defence (MOD). Essentially, the British government leveraged Leidos’ decades of proven logistics expertise to guide it in the transformation and modernization of the MOD’s storage, distribution and procurement capabilities. We procure, store and distribute common items such as food, clothing, medical supplies, packaged fuels and more. It’s a very large program that will span more than a decade.
What helped Leidos win that particular program?
To bid on it, we had to have the past performance to prove that we could successfully execute this large, complex project. That only happens when you’ve built up that expertise over years and years. It requires precision and excellence in execution on similar sized programs. So first and foremost, we had to provide the MOD with the confidence that we could actually do the work.
Why was operations and logistics selected as a technical core competency for Leidos?
An admiral during World War II once stated, "I don't know what this ‘logistics’ is that Marshall is always talking about, but I want some of it." Virtually all our work involves some aspect of logistics. We support the Department of Defense (DOD), the National Science Foundation (NSF), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and so on. So it was natural to select Logistics as a core competency. Further, logistics support is something we do extremely well. We have very talented logisticians in all parts of the company. We want to harness and leverage this talent to improve our logistics offerings to our customers.
How has Leidos been successful across all these projects and customers?
We attribute our success to three things: people, processes, and tools. Leidos has people with decades of experience in functional areas, and that counts a lot. We are also excellent about documenting and establishing standard processes and practices for how we succeed. And we have a strong set of tools that back up our logisticians so they can more effectively do their jobs. Those three elements are really what make up the strength of this technical core competency.
How did Leidos make a name for itself in operations and logistics?
Leidos started as an engineering company. We began as a company of problem solvers — what problem does the government have, and how can we help solve it? A lot about logistics is problem-solving. Getting supplies to a certain place at a certain time. Fixing systems or re-engineering them so they’re more reliable.
What’s the biggest logistics challenge our customers face today?
All our customers are looking for value for their money. Given our current budget constraints, they are looking for more reliable equipment that’s easier to operate with longer life spans. Another major challenge for our customers is related to data. Many of our customers have a lot of data, but they don’t necessarily know how to use it effectively. It’s the data that informs how many parts I need on the shelf, where these parts should be located, how to reduce my transportation costs, how to track the status of all my equipment, and so on. Many of our customers are looking for data analytics insights from the data, which will then inform them on how to prioritize and optimize their logistics solutions.
What logistics programs are you especially proud of?
Leidos has the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Support Contract. It’s the longest, most complex supply chain in the world. The contract encompasses every activity required to maintain a presence at the South Pole. This includes building airfields on ice and snow in the world’s worst weather conditions, supplying remote field camps, maintaining ice breaking research vessels, and maintaining research stations and laboratories on an isolated continent. It’s a tough, tough program. There’s a very narrow window of time when it’s safe to actually move cargo in and out of the area. The precision and planning to deliver the logistics and the people necessary to support life there is amazing. Solving that takes a lot of competency and expertise.
We also have a joint venture in which we support the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Test Site on the island of Kwajalein Atoll. We operate the testing ranges for the ballistic missile defense system and also support space operations. Few people really think about all the logistics that come with this critical mission. The people who live on the island have to be housed and fed. They need medical care, and their kids need to be educated. We need parts and supplies to run the ranges. Leidos, in partnership with Bechtel, supplies, stores and distributes all the food, supplies, repair parts — everything needed to operate the island. It’s remarkable. We only accomplish these two amazing missions with the skills and expertise of a talented logistics workforce.