By Lisa Simunaci (AMCOM)December 17, 2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The Army selected a single viewer for more than 7,400 electronic technical manuals, choosing a solution developed by a team from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command.
The Interactive Authoring and Display Software, or IADS, will become the Army's single viewer for all electronic technical manuals, said Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics Lt. Gen. Duane Gamble.
Just as Adobe acts as a viewer for a PDF file, IADS is the viewer for the military standard compliant data that makes up the Army's technical manuals. IADS is currently available as a desktop application, with plans to go across mobile devices.
"We chose IADS as the best solution to increase efficiencies while reducing costs and paper requirements," Gamble said. "IADS has a history of success and emerged as a Soldier favorite, inspiring confidence in maintenance and sustainment environments."
An update to the Army Materiel Maintenance Policy, expected by December 2020, will discontinue the use of other electronic maintenance viewers by October 2023.
"This move takes an AMCOM innovation and applies it across the Army," said Don Nitti, director of AMCOM's Logistic Center. "The responsiveness and reliability of the viewer reduces the logistics footprint and the Warfighter's burden."
For operators and maintainers, using IADS means quicker updates and eliminates the need to upload revisions from compact discs or insert paper modifications.
The desktop application was originally developed in 1989 as a paperless initiative. A small team continues to improve the software, which encompasses all stages of technical manuals, from publication development to the end-user interface.
"IADS revolutionized the way the Army generates, edits, publishes and maintains the full array of technical publications," said Kyell Turner, chief of AMCOM Logistics Center's Publication Services Division.
Turner was once part of the IADS development team he now oversees.
"In an increasingly paperless world, IADS is the right tool," Turner said. "IADS puts up-to-date and synchronized information in the hands of Soldiers and maintainers faster and more conveniently than other viewers."
Turner credits the IADS team for turning a vision into reality by transforming IADS into a leading-edge logistics application for providing maintenance manuals to the Warfighter.
"This is such a great honor," said Shannon Marion, the publication services division branch chief. "The Army selected a product developed and improved by a small team, based on the capabilities it offers to Soldiers. It is quite an accomplishment."
IADS allows the quick production of technical manuals that are accurate, affordable and delivered efficiently to Soldiers. Quality, accuracy and speed are the overarching goals for IADS, Marion noted. Cost effectiveness factors in too, and IADS is less expensive than other systems.
"I believe our mission is to support maintainers with the best possible product," said Justin Cook, a lead software developer on the team. "Every new feature that goes into IADS must provide value -- either directly to the user or by improving the quality of the manual."
The single-viewer decision involved an extensive evaluation overseen by a General Officer Steering Committee with representatives from the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology; the Deputy Chief of Staff for Army Logistics; the Army Materiel Command and the Combined Arms Support Command.
Features of the latest version of IADS include easy installation, tabbed interface, improved search capabilities, interactive troubleshooting and the ability to generate PDF work packages that may be printed. The software also facilitates the creation and submittal of a Department of the Army form 2028, used to recommend changes to publications.
"We always have the future in mind and continue to define the next generation technical manual as we incorporate updates and improvements," Turner said. Those efforts include support for small-screen devices and an enhanced use of multimedia.
"This is a winning solution for everyone in the tech manual community, and especially for the end user," Turner said. "IADS provides the most current data, has the ability to link safety messages and support parts ordering capability."