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Digital Logistics


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Control and Communications; Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning; General Warfighting Requirements (GWR)

OBJECTIVE: DON is seeking modern tools and capabilities to improve the resiliency of the existing systems utilized for logistical support to forward deployed forces, not just materiel support, but ensured dynamic, reliable, and robust delivery of medical supplies, support and care.

DESCRIPTION: While there are many definitions of “logistics” (, the Webster’s Dictionary definition is “the procurement, maintenance, distribution, and replacement of personnel and materiel”. So clearly logistics is focused on the flow of not only goods and services (people) but also information, and clearly this flow is both inbound and outbound, and internal and external to an organization. This information flow, management, data analytics and security is referred to as digital logistics and is critical to all modern logistic functions.

One of the difficulties is often times logistical Information and processes are dispersed, with only small user-identified portions of information being shared between groups via man-in-the-loop communication channels. Such limited information sharing makes it difficult to understand a system's overall state, logistical needs, and associated future state. Often times a system’s physical remoteness or inaccessibility, as well as lack of reliable communication of sufficient bandwidth, adds to the complexity and fragility of providing effective logistical support, that is it is difficult to get the right information, difficult to communicate it to the right people, difficult to determine the best response, and then difficult to deliver that response. There are any number of seemingly simple logistics problems that are in fact very complex due to the fragility of the flow of information, material, and people.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown a number of unforeseen and known vulnerabilities to our logistical systems. Mandatory telework and “stay-at-home” orders has severely limited network bandwidth and the timely flow of information. It has also dynamically altered the demand for certain goods in unpredicted ways, e.g. N95 masks. A more typical example would be maintenance and monitoring of a remote oil pipeline. A leak might only be detected by a drop in pressure at a point where it is actually being monitored, or by inspection, but the remoteness may make routine inspection difficult. If a leak develops, the response may entail shutting down the pipeline, localizing the leak, determining the cause, and then development of a solution, and then implementing that solution. But even delivering the fix may entail the logistics of getting the people and material to the site efficiently.

DON is seeking modern tools and capabilities to address the following Digital Logistics Focus Areas:

1. Digital Logistics Challenge for Fragile, Remote Systems
2. Digital Logistics Challenge for Improved Medical Care

1. Digital Logistics Challenge for Fragile, Remote Systems: The impact of COVID-19 has revealed vulnerabilities to what were thought to be accessible, reliable and robust systems. To address these vulnerabilities the DON must evolve the complex logistical support to a system that could be made remote and inaccessible by external events (e.g. health emergency, natural disasters and wartime) into a dynamic/agile, reliable, and robust logistical support system and network for enhancing the remote system’s knowledge-of-self, dynamic data sharing and routing, for current and future logistical needs.

By seamlessly fusing all potentially relevant data (measured and modeled) and management paradigms, an integrated data environment permits the prediction of optimal system performance, logistical support, and maintenance needs. Immediate issues include:

• Use of sensor, machine learning, and data analytic technologies to quantify with confidence levels the current status of platforms and systems, and the logistic and maintenance needs.
• Dynamic/agile, reliable, and robust logistics system architectures and network control with dynamic data sharing and routing, that enables dynamic/agile material and service routing.
• Experiment with the comparison and fusion of physical system and virtual data including multi-fidelity physics-based numerical simulations for selected system responses.
• Evaluate the optimal data structure and data flow to predict system and logistic process performance.
• Improve condition-based maintenance (CBM) with machinery monitoring and prognostics to maximize endurance and operational availability.

2. Digital Logistics Challenge for Improved Medical Care: The DON needs to be able to provide digital logistic support to ensure dynamic, reliable, and robust delivery of medical supplies, support and care. The logistics of providing medical supplies, support, and care during mass illness and casualties, whether due to pandemics (e.g., COVID-19), natural disasters, or war, faces numerous challenges, including knowledge of supply chains that provide raw materials to manufacturers, ability for manufactures to increase production rates or retool their factories to produce medical products, ability to obtain U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, if required, and ability to obtain federal, state, and local government contracts in a timely manner. In addition, some medical supplies may have a short shelf life or include controlled substances. In terms of care, it is critical that the patient has access in a timely manner to medical facilities or FDA-approved home-testing kits. The medical care providers should have secure access to the patient’s medical records. By seamlessly fusing medical supply chain, manufacturing, and patient care, an integrated data environment permits the prediction and delivery of optimal support and care. The DON needs to provide dynamic, reliable, robust, and secure medical support and care to forward deployed personnel.

Specific technical challenges to be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Enhanced digital logistics tools to optimize and authenticate material and product flow through complex supply chains able to manage medical grade raw materials through to the assembly and distribution of advanced, digitally controlled systems for patient care.
• Robust computational tools for guided development of complete packages for FDA consideration and approval including assembling and curating data (e.g. material origin, manufacturing and assembly, and quality assurance and testing) and formatting for ease of review and recording of determinations.
• Enhanced digital logistics tools to optimize timely use or destruction of medical consumables with limited shelf life, tracking individual products/units and providing easily interpreted dashboards to advise care providers working in chaotic environments.

PHASE I: Please add the primary Focus Area number you are proposing to as a prefix to the Phase I Proposal title.

Proposers will develop and demonstrate an initial functional prototype meeting one primary Focus Area of the two Focus Areas listed under this topic. Technical proposals are limited to 5-pages and must provide sufficient information to allow assessment that the initial prototype demonstrated at the end of Phase I will function in a relevant environment in a manner meeting the specified capability. This information may include, but is not limited to, detailed designs, component and system laboratory testing, or a minimum viable product (MVP) [Ref 1]. At the end of Phase I, the initial functional prototype will be demonstrated and a detailed report on prototyping test results will be provided to the Government. Proposals must include a discussion of the dual-use defense and commercial market opportunities for the technology being proposed, including a preliminary assessment of commercial market potential.

Phase I period of performance shall not exceed 5 months, and the total fixed price shall not exceed $150,000.

PHASE II: The functional prototype demonstrated at the end of Phase I will be further developed and refined into an operational prototype based on defense and commercial customer feedback.
Full details for Phase II proposal requirements will be provided to Phase I awardees; however, generally it is anticipated that awardees will have to meet the objectives of key contract deliverables to successfully complete Phase II, including:

Prototype Demonstration of Viability –further builds on the Phase I functional prototype to meet DON user’s needs. The proposer will focus on moving beyond proving basic achievement of meeting DON needs to meeting all of the usability features required for integration and deployment. The proposer will be expected to work with actual end users and systems integration personnel to ensure that requirements beyond technological performance of the prototype are identified (e.g., Human System Interface, logistics, training, maintenance, installation). The proposer will use feedback from DON users, systems integrators, and other potential defense and commercial beneficiaries and stakeholders to modify and adapt its prototype to meet defense operational and technical needs and to meet potential dual-use commercial applications. The prototype must demonstrate operational and/or commercial viability. The proposer must recommend test procedures to demonstrate viability and an appropriate facility for the test; however, the government is not required to use the proposed testing procedures or facilities. It is very likely that government personnel will be present for the demonstration.

Pilot Testing in an Operational Environment – The proposer will meet with DON command stakeholders and operational end users to conduct pilot tests of fully functional prototypes in an operational environment. These tests are designed to be performed using DON operational personnel in real end user environments and scenarios. All testing will be coordinated with DON command and operational stakeholders. Results of this testing will inform stakeholders on the capabilities of the developed technology and the probability for its deployment in an operational environment. The proposer will use feedback from DON users, systems integrators, and other potential defense and commercial beneficiaries and stakeholders to adapt their prototype to optimize defense operational and technical benefits and to provide optimal dual-use commercial market fit.

Operational Test and Evaluation in Multiple User Scenarios - Conduct additional operational testing, if required, using multiple prototypes and users simultaneously in a DON operational environment. For testing purposes delivery of multiple prototypes and/or licenses of the technology may be required. If non-government personnel are utilized as part of the testing, appropriate Non-Disclosure Agreements will be obtained to protect against disclosure of the proposer’s intellectual property (if properly marked). The proposer may be required to support the conduct of the tests, but the operation of the prototypes in the test must be capable of being performed by the government.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Given the need for these capabilities at numerous sites, the Federal Government will coordinate funding to maximize benefit for affected sites. Depending on financial estimates, a phased procurement may be required to reach full implementation at the necessary sites. Coordination between the Government and the provider will be required during Phase III to ensure support and proper proficiency of the solution is in place prior to completion of the effort.

Finally, the Federal Government sees the development of these capabilities as benefiting industrial maintenance activities in partnership with the Navy. The ability to keep critical assets in operation is a common need for which the Navy is seeking willing partners.

1. Minimum Viable Product:
2. Technology Readiness Levels:

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