Planning should define what constitutes a successful end state for the project and provide a road map to getting there. By actively working with our clients during the Planning phase, AARDVARK ensures that the strategic vision for the program is fully defined and articulated. This initial stage then serves as the blueprint for the program's ongoing development and eventual fielding.
AARDVARK plans each client's program to accomplish their mission-specific objectives by working with the Program Manager (PM) to determine the desired end state as a whole. By focusing on the important program milestones prior to its commencement, AARDVARK helps our client establish the framework to seamlessly yield the complete operational system necessary to realize their planned goal.
AARDVARK helps each client assess their operational needs by concentrating on the requirements of their end users and their corresponding capability gaps. After thorough review of the client's stated goals, we work with the PM to identify any further potential needs that can be addressed during the development of the program. Through this process, we are able to help the client uncover and fully identify any prospective capability gaps that may be resolved by their program.
AARDVARK's approach to effective scheduling is to first identify and consider all program milestones. These milestones are then organized to produce a comprehensive program schedule that can be used to measure the progress of the project at any point. As the program advances, action is taken to proactively achieve each milestone while also allowing for the incorporation of other significant programmatic tasks that emerge during the life of the project.
Following a complete needs assessment, AARDVARK continues to work with the PM to select the most effective combination of products that will fulfill the client's previously identified capability gaps. During product selection, equipment is evaluated for functionality, effectiveness, cost, and durability. Additionally, the prospective products are assessed for interoperability with not only the equipment selected for the system, but also with the equipment already in the hands of the end users. The result is an optimized collection of equipment that will later be integrated to produce effective, efficient, mission-specific capabilities.
If the client's needs cannot be met by existing products, AARDVARK can help expedite the development of new Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) items with industry. As an Integrator rather than a manufacturer, AARDVARK is able to work with industry to vector product development in a way that is beneficial to the program while avoiding the concern of unauthorized commitments. The outcome of this is the rapid development of COTS products that suit our client's needs without any cost to the program.
Whether our client provides an exact Configuration Design or requires a custom design, AARDVARK is able to optimize the space and utility of the system and reduce its footprint while satisfying all product packaging and weight requirements. After the Configuration Design is finalized, our Configuration Management process ensures that every system produced is an exact match of the approved Configuration Design. Using Technical Data Packages (TDPs) as the backbone of the process, AARDVARK's Configuration Management requires that any changes to the system are made only with PM approval and the adoption of a new Configuration Design.
As product is being evaluated, selected, and configured into the systems, AARDVARK will assess the potential risks of their inclusion including user injury, environmental impact, and hazardous material (HAZMAT) concerns. Any risk found is reviewed with the PM and mitigated to the extent possible through the introduction of comparable products, product removal, warning labels, and training. The outcome of the Risk Mitigation process is a system with minimal, fully-identified risks that are consequently accepted by the PM.
Acquisition should yield the right components, for the best price, while ensuring contract compliance. During the Acquisition phase, AARDVARK acts as the program's procurement arm and provides seamless, transparent subcontracting. By providing a single point of contact for the program's supply needs, AARDVARK allows our clients to continue to focus on the strategic goals of their program.
After thorough program planning, AARDVARK begins the Acquisition process. As an industry leader for nearly three decades, our unique, well-developed relationships with industry provide our clients and AARDVARK with advantages such as specific production scheduling, priority delivery windows, direct influence over Quality Assurance (QA) processes, and access to all of the industry's personnel. Additionally, our aggressive ISO 9001:2008 based Quality Management System (QMS) ensures that product is delivered to our facilities on time and in accordance with all requirements and contract flowdowns.
As the primary contractor, AARDVARK acts as the client's single point of contact for all of the program's procurement efforts. Once the PM issues a Delivery Order to AARDVARK, we immediately begin production coordination and acquisition while working with each subcontractor to satisfy all contractual flowdowns as soon as possible. Since AARDVARK generates and manages all subcontracts directly with each supplier, involvement of the PM in supplier management is completely eliminated.
As an ISO certified company, AARDVARK's QMS mandates that not only are strict policies in place for the QA and management of our own procedures, but for the program's designated subcontractors as well. In addition to standard QA practices such as requirement review and product inspection, our Quality Operating Procedures (QOPs) include regular supplier evaluations of our approved vendors, product approval processes, and stringent incoming Quality Control (QC) to ensure that we only subcontract with vendors whose products and business practices consistently meet our established QA requirements.
To maintain conformance to the ISO 9001:2008 standards of our QMS, AARDVARK continually evaluates the qualifications of our suppliers to ensure that they are consistently dependable. By screening vendors as the first step of our QA process, AARDVARK reduces the risk to the program posed by unreliable subcontractors. Utilizing methods including an actively managed Approved Vendor List (AVL), Supplier Evaluations, Vendor Scorecards, and on-site visits of supplier facilities, we measure their reliability and track trending data such as shipment errors, non-conforming products, and on-time delivery. Any supplier that does not meet the standards of our QMS will be removed from our AVL and AARDVARK will no longer procure product from the supplier until qualifications are met.
At the onset of a Delivery Order, AARDVARK communicates directly with each supplier to establish a production schedule that ensures compliance with the client's delivery requirements. As a result, AARDVARK is able to provide the maximum available notice to the manufacturers and gain priority product fulfillment. This creates a huge advantage over the normal "first come, first serve" order fulfillment by outlining all expectations during the production coordination, greatly mitigating the risk of delay to the overall program.
As a prime contractor, AARDVARK understands that it is our responsibility to provide the exact product specified while complying with all other requirements outlined in the contract. Manufacturing requirements, such as the Berry Amendment and Buy American Act, export concerns, such as International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) restrictions, and other contract flowdowns are reviewed, addressed, confirmed, and fulfilled by subcontractors to ensure full Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) compliance of the program's acquisition efforts.
Integration should provide a turnkey system that meets both the objectives of the program and operational needs of the end user. As an Integrator, AARDVARK ensures that the program receives completely interoperable, ready to deploy modules rather than a collection of disparate, individual products.
Once all product has been delivered to our warehouse, inspected, and accepted in compliance with our Quality Standards, AARDVARK then begins the assembly, kitting, and integration of the equipment in accordance with the Configuration Design established during the Planning phase. This process results in the transformation of individual component products into integrated, fully operational, turnkey systems that completely meet the program's requirements.
The ultimate objective of AARDVARK's Integration process is to minimize unnecessary effort on the part of the end user by yielding a complete turnkey system. Using the approved Configuration Design as the core of this process, AARDVARK assembles products into mission-based modules or kits, which are designed for a "grab and go" deployment in the field. These modules are then further integrated into larger customized shipping containers or other program designated packaging elements complete with program approved labeling and marking to allow for optimal ease of use and rapid deployment by the end user.
In addition to ensuring that each fielded set includes all of the necessary components to fulfill the required capability, AARDVARK also ensures that every system we integrate arrives 100% ready for deployment by the end user. By regularly monitoring all in-process systems for defects, degradation, and product expiration, AARDVARK is able to maintain the complete readiness of the system through to delivery. This maintenance includes the regular charging of batteries, upgrading of product firmware and software, and resolution of any potential product recall concerns. The net effect of this ongoing maintenance is that each set is received by the end user as a fully functional, deployable system.
During the Integration process, AARDVARK's integration team captures the serial numbers of all component products included in our systems. Additionally, AARDVARK will create a Unique Identification (UID) numbering system at a modular level, container level, or for any product as specified by the client as well as provide RFID markings as required. This exhaustive capturing of this data creates an easily accessible, all-inclusive record that is tracked and maintained by AARDVARK and can be accessed by the PM or any other stakeholders as needed.
AARDVARK has extensive experience with the Military Standards (MIL-STD) that may be required by the program during the fielding of their Integrated Systems. After a thorough review of all Packaging and Marking requirements included in the project's contract, AARDVARK's logistics team ensures compliance with the required standards prior to shipment. If a client needs any packaging or marking beyond that required by the contract, AARDVARK can provide custom stenciling, labeling, or other external markings as specified.
Logistics should deliver the correct solution, on time, as efficiently as possible. By actively managing HAZMAT concerns, export regulations, and all shipping subcontractors, AARDVARK provides the program with the fully compliant, global, on-time delivery necessary for the program's success.
After Planning, Acquisition, and Integration, AARDVARK continues to assist the client in the logistics and fielding of their systems. The ultimate result of the Logistics phase is the on-time delivery of a fully operational system delivered anywhere in the world.
After Integration is complete, AARDVARK coordinates all logistical concerns with the PM and the freight provider to ensure accurate, on-time delivery of the systems to the required destinations. Utilizing air, ground, sea, or Military methods, we will arrange shipping as specified by the contract and process all required shipping licenses and certifications. After the shipment leaves our warehouse, we continue to track each shipment to its successful delivery at its destination and obtain confirmation of receipt by the end user.
AARDVARK is committed to the safe transportation of HAZMAT product and has trained staff certified in the air, ground, and sea transportation of dangerous goods. Certifications include Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, IATA (International Air Transport Association), and IMDG (International Maritime Dangerous Goods). This knowledge is essential for the identification and mitigation of HAZMAT concerns during shipping as regulated product may need to be separated before shipment and integrated at destination. As a result, AARDVARK will assure compliance with all HAZMAT packaging and marking regulations and will advise the client of any HAZMAT product that is affected by these regulations.
AARDVARK is registered with the U.S. State Department for the exporting of our Integrated Systems and has staff trained and certified in the export of a full range of regulated products. Through extensive contract review and a meticulous approach to packaging, labeling, and certifications, AARDVARK ensures that every shipment is always in compliance with the various export regulations that may affect the program.
AARDVARK offers the prepositioning of Integrated Systems for programs where an immediate need for the capability is not required, but may become urgently needed in the future. Prepositioned systems are constantly monitored by AARDVARK to prevent potential problems like expiring product, depleted batteries, and potential product recalls. As a result, when the immediate need for the capability arises, AARDVARK is able to begin the transport of the system in a matter of hours rather than days or weeks. Prepositioned systems can be housed in AARDVARK's warehouse or any other facility as required by the client.
AARDVARK will work with the PM to establish delivery windows for any GFE/GFM and assist with any logistical arrangements to ensure seamless integration with the other products in the system. Upon receipt of the GFE/GFM, we inspect the product for any quality deficiencies or damage as we would any other acquired product and then submit a status report to the PM advising of any issues. Additionally, GFE/GFM is segregated and labeled from all other product per DCMA and Military contracting regulations until final System Integration.
Lifecycle Management should ensure the highest level of system readiness and program support. Rather than treating each fielding as a static, one time occurrence, AARDVARK's Lifecycle Management process provides lifetime support for each fielded system by bookending each delivery with client-tailored support functions to maximize the effectiveness and longevity of the program and our systems.
Viewing ourselves as a System Integrator and not simply a distributor, we support the systems we field for their entire lifecycle at no additional charge to our clients. Lifecycle Management focuses on maintaining the capability of the system and its readiness throughout its life by facilitating training, technical and warranty support, provision and resupply planning and coordination, refurbishment or reconstitution, and finally disposal of outdated systems.
Throughout the fielding of systems, AARDVARK can provide, coordinate or facilitate the training of system users. Training can include end user training, instructor training, or training from the manufacturers of the individual products contained within the systems. As part of this training, AARDVARK can provide instructors or trainees with supporting documentation including instruction manuals, training guides, and lesson plans. Should additional training materials or documentation be needed, AARDVARK will assist end users or instructors in obtaining any required resources.
AARDVARK offers technical and end user support throughout the life of the systems to enable the continual success of the program. By making our support staff available through a variety of outlets such as phone, email, and password protected websites, we offer a single point of contact in the method preferred by the PM to support any potential technical issues. As a result of this direct approach, the end user receives much faster and more effective resolution to problems that arise during the life of the system.
In order to ensure operational effectiveness of the system throughout its lifecycle, AARDVARK researches all the information necessary for the maintenance or potential repair of the Integrated System prior to its fielding. As a result, all potentially important product data including replacement part numbers for spare parts and accessories, manufacturing lead times, repair and replacement processes, and warranty information are obtained and stored. If desired, Spares and Repairs kits can be provided with the systems to minimize in-field downtime by allowing end users to resolve simple problems in the field.
At any time after delivery, AARDVARK will support the Client with any warranty claims that may arise. When a product is broken and under warranty, AARDVARK will act as a liaison between the end user and the manufacturer to ensure the product is repaired or replaced. When the product is not under warranty but appears to have broken from a manufacturer defect, AARDVARK will act as an advocate on behalf of the end user to obtain a no cost replacement.
If desired, AARDVARK will work with the PM to refurbish any sets that may be out of the current standard. During Refurbishment, AARDVARK thoroughly inspects the systems for completeness, broken components, and any potentially outdated software, manuals, diagrams, or other system collateral. AARDVARK evaluates all broken, missing, or used product against warranties and advises the Client of any cost to repair or replace. As product eventually becomes unnecessary or obsolete, AARDVARK assists with any required disposal of goods, including HAZMAT products, and provides recommendations for alternative products that may be provided in more current iterations of the system.