The Problem Solvers
Textron Systems Support Solutions Logistics Engineering Analyst Latosha Murchison and her team are contractor logistics support (CLS) specialists. While logistics in everyday life get packages to your door on time and on budget, military logistics can be fraught with complexity and even danger. Latosha discusses the power of data, working across teams, and keeping the warfighter at the center of every idea. This dedication to Textron Systems’ military customers comes naturally; Latosha herself served in the U.S. Army, including an overseas deployment in 2003.
Q: How did you first learn about the company?
A: I spent four years on active duty as part of the U.S. Army, and an additional two years on reserve duty. During that time, I learned about the company’s Shadow® Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (TUAS) at the Army’s schoolhouse in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, as it was integrated into my unit. After I completed my time in the military, I continued my work in electronics and completed additional deployments as a contractor before finding an opportunity to join Textron Systems Support Solutions. My first role with the company was part of the Shadow TUAS training team; eight years later, my current role provides CLS support for the same program.
Q: How are military logistics unique?
A: The logistics services we provide our military customers here and overseas affect people who are most often in harm’s way. There are nuances in terms of making sure we are following government policy, finding points with the least challenges to land equipment and people, and managing within the strict cost requirements of our government funding.
In addition, factors like funding and mission tend to change regularly for the military, whereas commercial logistics are fairly straightforward. If our customer’s mission changes, we change how we’re delivering support.
Q: Describe your day-to-day role.
A: We’re problem solvers. Our CLS team leads integrated product support for the Shadow TUAS; it’s really about preventing or solving issues in the field. These may be equipment related, including spares, repairs and upgrades; or they may be logistics, staffing or training related. If we see data that indicates an emerging issue, we investigate it, validate it and generate ideas across the integrated product team with program management, engineering, training and others. We provide the big picture – potential solutions, both short-term and long-term, along with cost.
Q: What tools do you have at your disposal to identify and solve issues while they’re still small and manageable?
A: We have access to every area of the program: spares, hardware, software, logistics data management, training, field service, etc. Each group maintains metrics on every area it manages; for example, the hardware team can tell us how often a piece of equipment has been updated, any repairs it has had, when it is due for upgrades, plus all of the associated costs. At the larger integrated product support level, our job is to analyze that data across the entire program, go to each function and discuss ideas to address repetitive issues. We also can bring people together across the functions to solve more complex problems. While we aren’t the holders of the metrics, we know how to access, analyze and bring all of those pieces together.
Q: How does your military service impact your current role?
A: I remember myself as an 18-year-old soldier and think about things from that perspective. As we consider changes to the system, we consider whether it will be a better way of doing things for them. Will it make their lives easier? We want our customers to understand that the person in the field is always foremost in our minds.
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