As the Council of Logistics Engineering Professionals (CLEP) continues to evolve, it is important that we consider ways to grow the logistics profession. Over the last year, CLEP launched the Lunch N’ Learn Series, established the Defense Industry Lifecycle Logistics Certification Program, and revived our monthly newsletter. As a regular feature of our newsletter, we introduce the “Back to The Basics” blog series. This series will focus on establishing a solid foundation in the fundamentals of Product Support that help Life Cycle Logisticians bring supportable, reliable, and cost effective, products to market.
Let me start off by saying: Transitions are hard. Coming out of the military with eight years of logistics experience, I thought that a transition into the Logistics Engineering field was a natural progression. In my first job interview, one of the interviewers asked me, “Which one of the 12 IPS elements do you think you are strongest in and why?” I was caught flat footed. I did not know. I didn’t even know what an “IPS” was, let alone which ones were relevant to me. The interviewer was kind enough to review the 12 Integrated Product Support (IPS) elements with me and I picked out the ones most relevant to my experiences. It was not my best moment, but it was salvageable.
One of the men who continues to impact my professional growth used to always say to me; “Jon, words mean things.” He used that as a mantra and as a reminder that sometimes the words we use are not always what we mean. Before we can dive into the inner workings of logistics engineering, we need to define the difference between “Business Logistics” and “Acquisition Logistics.”
When people think of a company that exemplifies logistics, big names like UPS, FedEx, Amazon, and Walmart typically come to mind. These household names have developed a reputation for delivering products all over the world and for efficiency in their operations. The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) defines Business Logistics as:
The systematic and coordinated set of activities required to provide the physical movement and storage of goods (raw materials, parts, finished goods) from vendor/supply services through company facilities to the customer… and the associated activities-packaging, order processing, etc.-in an efficient manner necessary to enable the organization to contribute to the explicit goals of the company.
To achieve this vision of logistics, you need warehouses to store the supplies, transportation to move the supplies, maintenance to maintain the assets, and an efficient system to control the flow of it all. When we look at the definition of Business Logistics, it most closely resembles the logistics activities within the military profession. This is partly due to the recent adoption of enterprise resourcing programs (ERPs) and the incorporation of industry best practices into modern doctrine to increase efficiency.
Acquisition Logistics is an inherently DOD focused process that is different from Business Logistics in that its primary focus is on product development. The source Acquisition Notes (AcqNotes) defined Acquisition Logistics as:
… a multi-functional, technical management discipline associated with the design, development, test, production, fielding, sustainment, and improvement modifications of DoD systems.
Despite these distinct differences between Acquisition Logistics and Business Logistics, there are also similarities in the knowledge required to operate in either side of the industry. Maintainers, Warehouse personnel, Transporters, and Managers, all have core competencies that can be used to influence the design in the defense industry. A maintainer, for example, can understand schematics, review the system, and identify common system failures.
Warehouse Personnel are familiar with packaging equipment for transport and ensuring it can be moved. Transporters know the dimensions of their platforms and what sort of systems can be moved on each platform. The baseline experience, willingness to learn, and an openness to new experiences are what drive one’s ability to make the jump to the defense industry.
Life Cycle Logisticians
Life Cycle Logisticians, also titled “Logistics Engineers,” are the advocates for designing cost effective and supportable systems. They work together with everyone from engineers to program managers to ensure that the system meets the customer’s goals and are integral to the defense acquisition process.
Our target audience for the “Back to The Basics” Blog is anyone with the desire to learn more about defense acquisition logistics. Whether you are a junior technician, recent college graduate, veteran, or an experienced professional, this series is for you. We seek to build on the fundamentals and provide the resources to grow our future. Feel free to ask questions in the comments below and we will seek to provide a response in a timely manner.
 Vitasek, Kate. (2013). “Supply Chain Management Terms and Glossary.” Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. Retrieved on 18 MAY 2021 from https://cscmp.org/CSCMP/Academia/SCM_Definitions_and_Glossary_of_Terms/CSCMP/Educate/SCM_Definitions_and_Glossary_of_Terms.aspx
 AcqNotes.com (2021) Acquisition Logistics Overview. Retrieved on 18 May 2021 from https://acqnotes.com/acqnote/careerfields/acquisition-logistics-overview