By Tim Johnson - May 7th, 2020 | Posted in Article

As many of us have a bit of time on our hands there has been several posts about ILS and support solutions. This has got me thinking about the defence procurement process, there are financial pressures on the procuring organisation to obtain complex defence systems within limited budgets, and to develop in parallel an effective and affordable support solution.

Here comes the idea, what if the acquisition organisation within the customer to hold a procurement budget which covers the Concept, Assessment, Demonstration and Manufacturing phases CADM of the CADMID cycle, which will remain the same as the current model, but with the User/Supporting organisation holding a budget to cover the ILS/supportability analyses during the CADM phases to ensure they get what they want, this is the only difference that needs to be made, the Front line Command are currently involved in defining the support requirements for the In Service and Disposal aspects, however, they are not paying for the analysis so why would the acquisition organisation spend their budget doing more than they feel necessary to develop a support solution that they will have nothing to do with. All too often I have had user representatives ask for changes or additional effort which has been rejected as it impacts the procurement budget and there is no more money for the change.

This idea has been prompted by discussions relating to the concept of “Spend to Save” a concept that many of us in the ILS support domain recognise. How many times has it been said “if only they had brought the slightly better bit of kit then it would be more, Reliable, Maintainable, Supportable… This idea is not to perpetuate a silo mentality, but to ensure that customer is able to get what they want at the affordable cost. The current procurement model is for a acquisition organisation within the customer to hold a procurement budget which covers the Concept, Assessment, Demonstration and Manufacturing phases CADM of the CADMID cycle, with the User/Supporting organisation in many cases Front line Command paying for the In Service and Disposal aspects of the cycle. My thought process has reminded me of a saying a colleague used to reel off, “If you are asking me to clear up after the horse, at least let me have a say in its diet”.

Is ILS regraded as “Integrated Lip Service”? As the acquisition process does not put the priority on the In service and Disposal phases. Once they have either procured or delivered the system they move on to the next exciting new system to be brought into service with the Navy, Army, or Air Force. It is also an issue that the In Service and Disposal budgets are not the responsibility of the acquisition organisation so there is no priority to reduce in service costs as they will not get either the benefit or the kudos for saving in service costs. As ILS practitioners we try to make the best of a bad situation.

An example often used is the young person who buys a fast car and then realises that they cannot afford to run or service it. I think that the current model, is actually great aunt who cannot drive, but has loads of money buys the niece or nephew a sports car and then says “enjoy”, leaving the poor student to cover the unexpectedly high cost of fuel, maintenance and insurance. A lovely gift, but not a good idea. How about looking at the running costs as part of the purchase and seeing then if you can afford it before you commit!

I know that is is common sense, but it’s not that common.

I have been thinking about Aunty and whilst doing some research I’ve been going through some old MSc tutor notes from Exeter Uni in the late 90’s. I found a slide which I think backs up the previous article.

And I Quote; “Remember that, ILS and SA is only a part of the design programme, but one that should be started at the earliest possible time – the opportunities to really influence the design, and to make major cost avoidances occur and rapidly diminish as the design advances.” MIRCE 1995.

The timing of the Supportability Analysis (SA) has to be rescheduled as in so many programmes support is the tail end charly always trying to catch up. If very early analysis and possibly a stand alone set of analyses are conducted outside the programme start then a valid set of support requirements could be produced which could then be applied to the design of the system. the Bland “the system shall be Supportable” or the system shall be available” requirements do not cut the mustard, more time is wasted by the ILS teams in trying to decompose these high level meaningless requirements into something which can be used to truly influence the design. All to often the the system requirements are better defined so the design team can very quickly start designing to, e.g the ship shall not be longer that XXm or shall have the ability to carry X numbers of fully armed infantry men.

These requirements are very quickly interpreted into a drawing, and example is an aircraft carrier the flight deck has to be at least a certain size to accommodate the required number of aircraft, this drives the length and beam, which through the laws of Physics and the density of steel results in a Gross mass. All simple Naval Architecture, however, the support and maintenance of 65000 tonnes of steel has a massive impact on the support infrastructure and supply chain.

An example of this is the need to have a dock which the vessel can be not only built in but dry docked for maintenance. It is surprising how few dry docks are actually big enough to take the vessel.

ILS is often likened to a game of consequences, If you want a big ship/fast car/big car then…

  • You need to rebuild a large part of the dockside/driveway/garage
  • You need to dredge a new channel/widen the drive
  • Sort out how you are going to get fuel to the new toy.

I think that if the consequences are analysed up front then “the rich Aunt” might understand what she is gifting and might even provide some money for you to use the new gift.

The aim should be to explain the impact of Aunt’s generosity.