Sustainment 4.0 : The digital revolution of defence

Indra multiplies armies’ effectiveness and agility

An army’s ability to react and respond largely depends on the work of its logistical command. Indra has developed a Sustainability 4.0 platform that incorporates the most advanced digital technologies to multiply its efficiency.

The logistical unit of an army is responsible for projecting its strength to any point on the planet every time a mission is activated. Within a matter of days or even hours it’s able to deploy entire contingents of ideally equipped soldiers in the field. It’s also responsible for ensuring that all the armored vehicles, aircraft, ships and other materiel are always in perfect condition and for providing all the supplies required for the operation.

Indra’s new Sustainment 4.0 platform, based on the use of artificial intelligence, accelerates all of these processes and facilitates the predictive maintenance of air, naval and land platforms. But how does this revolutionary solution work and how is it implemented in an army’s legacy structure?

The first step in achieving the above is the massive sensorization of equipment. Indra’s SmartBITE solution can be installed in all kinds of vehicles, and it monitors their behavior in real time. This system, which operates autonomously and without the need to be connected to the Sustainment 4.0 platform, detects any anomalies that occur during the mission and automatically informs the crew or pilot, proposing potential solutions.

In turn, SmartBITE allows the vehicle to connect to the Sustainment 4.0 platform after each sortie and update the information related to its sustainment. It also provides intelligence to enable the platform to “self-diagnose” itself and report any problems, mobilizing mechanics and requesting components for its immediate repair.

The vision of the entire army

While all of this is going on, the army command supervises the logistical situation of all its units via the Sustainment 4.0 platform’s Command and Control Center.

This center acts as the true brain of the Sustainment 4.0 platform. With it, it’s possible to supervise and control all of the logistical flows of an entire army in real time, a feat that was practically unthinkable until now. It checks the stock in the warehouses, the expected demand, the evolution of costs, the work in progress and planned, etc. The system is also capable of proposing strategies to optimize freight organization, cargo disposition, optimal means of transport and routes, etc.

But the truly innovative feature of this platform is undoubtedly its ability to learn constantly. It has a test environment in which it trains, re-trains and verifies the logic and algorithms it uses. In this task it employs the most advanced machine learning, deep learning, transfer learning and reinforced learning techniques and so on.

The 4.0 platform then evaluates each of the new algorithms, chooses only those that guarantee the highest degree of accuracy and forwards them for production. The users responsible for the system have a control panel to supervise the ones that are being used at any given moment, monitor their status and check their behavior.

Drones and digital twins

While all these features provide strategic support at the highest level, the operators and maintenance technicians at the workshops and in the work centers rely on virtual reality, artificial intelligence, digital twins and drones to carry out their work.

The drones are able to check the condition of the vehicles in a fully automated manner each time they return from a mission, rapidly detecting any anomalies.

The maintenance personnel have Virtual Assistants (based on the use of wearable devices with Virtual Reality capabilities, tablets and smartphones) to carry out the repairs. Thanks to them they can, for example, obtain information on the configuration of a system without having to physically disassemble it. Instead, they view a digital object that exactly replicates the system to be repaired. They can also access the technical information on the equipment, which they view in superimposed form by means of augmented reality.

If they come across any problems, they can request remote assistance. Indra’s remote assistance solution has virtual reality glasses for sharing what’s being viewed in order to work hand in hand with other experts.

To address more complex projects that go beyond a specific repair, they have Virtual Rooms in which a team of people, each of them represented by an avatar, can meet up to study the status of a system, depicted in the form of a digital twin, and access all the technical documentation, statistics and videos they need to make decisions, determine potential evolutions, choose configurations for the next mission, etc.


The Sustainment 4.0 platform also incorporates Hybrid Digital Twin Labs, which combine accesses to real, simulated and virtualized assets in the same virtual space. This kind of twin allows the superimposing of actual information on the areas of operations onto digital mapping and adding a simulation layer to analyze any scenario, thus determining how a platform will respond to the demands of a mission.

Unsurprisingly, this impressive smart and hyper-connected working environment has been developed with the highest cybersecurity requirements and standards in mind from the earliest stages of its design. Cybersecurity is incorporated into all its facets, including the hardware, software, communications, data, identity management, traceability, monitoring and auditing. In particular, the public cloud and the 3G/4G/5G transmissions, a critical point that’s completely shielded, are protected.

With the development of cutting-edge systems such as this one, Indra is speeding up the digitalization of the world’s most advanced armies, providing capabilities that make a difference and enabling them to prevail over the adversary.

Add new comment