Admiral West: Armed forces face "tinpot future"

Re: Admiral West: Armed forces face "tinpot future&quot

stumpy said:
Levers_Aligned said:
My colleagues and I have spent countless hours wasted ... instead of doing what we are paid to do i.e. get a Royal Naval vessel back operational after a repair period ...
I think you have missed the point, perhaps it is all part of a cunning plan to stop you getting to sea, seeing as that costs money...?
Er, no. Where I am, the onus is on us being at sea. That can be greatly compounded by simple attitude-based directives and common-or-garden smoke and mirrors incompetency.

Levers
 

smoothbore

Lantern Swinger
Re: Admiral West: Armed forces face "tinpot future&quot

Passed-over_Loggie said:
copenhagencup


Nimrod MK4; another chestnut. Simple SoR for a replacement for an increasingly elderly and expensive to operate maritime patrol and strike aircraft. BAe, who inherited responsibility for Nimrods, designs a suitable aeroplane based on the original. It uses as much of the original airframe (effectively. the fuselage and weapon panniers, the fin, tailplanes and the outer mainplanes) as possible as it genuinely reduces the cost and the Treasury understands waste avoidance. No doubt in line with Smart Procurement, the MoD pushes BAe to subcontract the conversion work to another Company. This other Company, in the event, is unable to carry out the task as it exceeds its competence. This wastes a lot of time and money (nearly 2 years, I think). BAe accept the task back and give it to the Division that built the original Nimrods. Work continues quite well until the specification changes beyond the original SoR. The aeroplane must now be capable of plotting and, perhaps, attacking land targets (shades of Nimrod MK3). Design changes mean delays and additional cost. The MoD wants all test and development flying at a single location. The location was Warton, where all the similar flying was being conducted for the Typhoon. All the experienced and qualified Nimrod engineers and technicians were/are at Woodford, though; 20 or so miles to the South East. This adds further to the difficulties that then reflect in delays and additional cots. The saga continues. Why didn't we buy Orions from across the Ocean? That aeroplane is as elderly as the Nimrod MK1 and the requirement was for a pure jet that could transit fast and loiter long.
I think the suggestion that one of the main problems with the Nimrod Mk4 was that the sub contractor could not carry out the conversion work because the work exceeded its competence is grossly inaccurate. As I understand it, the conversion was planned on a CAD/CAM basis with precisely engineered new wings. Unfortunately, BAE failed to realise that the original Nimrod airframes were handbuilt and as a consequence the new CAD/CAM wings would not fit! There were differences of up to 2 inches between the old wing sizes. The sub contractor received a compensation work package to make up for the shortfall in the Nimrod work but still sufferred financially due to a problem not of its making. BTW, I have no connection with the sub contractor.
 
Re: Admiral West: Armed forces face "tinpot future&quot

smoothbore said:
Passed-over_Loggie said:
copenhagencup


Nimrod MK4; another chestnut. Simple SoR for a replacement for an increasingly elderly and expensive to operate maritime patrol and strike aircraft. BAe, who inherited responsibility for Nimrods, designs a suitable aeroplane based on the original. It uses as much of the original airframe (effectively. the fuselage and weapon panniers, the fin, tailplanes and the outer mainplanes) as possible as it genuinely reduces the cost and the Treasury understands waste avoidance. No doubt in line with Smart Procurement, the MoD pushes BAe to subcontract the conversion work to another Company. This other Company, in the event, is unable to carry out the task as it exceeds its competence. This wastes a lot of time and money (nearly 2 years, I think). BAe accept the task back and give it to the Division that built the original Nimrods. Work continues quite well until the specification changes beyond the original SoR. The aeroplane must now be capable of plotting and, perhaps, attacking land targets (shades of Nimrod MK3). Design changes mean delays and additional cost. The MoD wants all test and development flying at a single location. The location was Warton, where all the similar flying was being conducted for the Typhoon. All the experienced and qualified Nimrod engineers and technicians were/are at Woodford, though; 20 or so miles to the South East. This adds further to the difficulties that then reflect in delays and additional cots. The saga continues. Why didn't we buy Orions from across the Ocean? That aeroplane is as elderly as the Nimrod MK1 and the requirement was for a pure jet that could transit fast and loiter long.
I think the suggestion that one of the main problems with the Nimrod Mk4 was that the sub contractor could not carry out the conversion work because the work exceeded its competence is grossly inaccurate. As I understand it, the conversion was planned on a CAD/CAM basis with precisely engineered new wings. Unfortunately, BAE failed to realise that the original Nimrod airframes were handbuilt and as a consequence the new CAD/CAM wings would not fit! There were differences of up to 2 inches between the old wing sizes. The sub contractor received a compensation work package to make up for the shortfall in the Nimrod work but still sufferred financially due to a problem not of its making. BTW, I have no connection with the sub contractor.
And, who paid for that oversight? Am I being stupid, or is it wrong to expect 'experts' to have had that one in the bag? Did MoD shrug their shoulders and say, 'well, you're not getting paid, sunshine', or did they cough up meekly (see also SA80 Mk1)

Levers
 

FlagWagger

GCM
Book Reviewer
Re: Admiral West: Armed forces face "tinpot future&quot

smoothbore said:
I think the suggestion that one of the main problems with the Nimrod Mk4 was that the sub contractor could not carry out the conversion work because the work exceeded its competence is grossly inaccurate. As I understand it, the conversion was planned on a CAD/CAM basis with precisely engineered new wings. Unfortunately, BAE failed to realise that the original Nimrod airframes were handbuilt and as a consequence the new CAD/CAM wings would not fit! There were differences of up to 2 inches between the old wing sizes. The sub contractor received a compensation work package to make up for the shortfall in the Nimrod work but still sufferred financially due to a problem not of its making. BTW, I have no connection with the sub contractor.
This is a classic project management risk that is not rocket science and to say that this is not incompetence is simply playing with words; while it may not represent technically incompetence (I'm sure the CAD/CAM designed wings were more than up to the job) I'm afraid from a project management perspective this is incompetence of the highest order. An unfounded assumption was made which was subsequently used to underpin the whole commercial basis for the work. The proposal should never have got out of the door without a thorough review and confirmation that all assumptions had a) been documented and b) been confirmed. I also think that the DPA must also accept some blame for this - when they assessed Big And Expensive's proposal didn't the assumtpion that all airframes would have identical wings sound any alarm bells?
 
Re: Admiral West: Armed forces face "tinpot future&quot

Levers_Aligned said:
Cracking thread.

I've read Page's tome from cover to cover and although I do believe it has some contentious issues and omissions of detail, from his angle it is a pretty decent stab at a fat carbuncle. If we were half as good at being actively cynical and respectfully asking questions, we would alleviate our malaise overnight.

I am a nailed on, front-end victim of the support chain fuckery, and one who has to deal with the shortcomings of some dim and distant contract set-up-without-cutomer-asking. In my case I have dealt with the civilian contractor assigned to deal with our logs chain and found stupefying amounts of idiocy in both procedure and personnel. My colleagues and I have spent countless hours wasted ... instead of doing what we are paid to do i.e. get a Royal Naval vessel back operational after a repair period ... diagnosing the faults and arranging 'work rounds' because the requirement and urgency of the middle man supplier fails to align with the pressing timescale of our programme. It beggars belief, mobile-thumby 'dunno's' on the end of the phone, stores not where we want them (on the ship would do, for a change) absolutely idiotic 'technical queries', unfathomable working hours and a sense of delivery, urgency and customer satisfaction which seems almost retarded. My point is this. Someone devised, wrote and shook hands to agree this ******* mess, and customer one has to work 'Rebalanced' hours to sort out the shitstorm that it causes. We get the 'oh, it's always been like that. It's what was agreed in the contract' bullshit like it is the final word ... what I want to know is, is anyone getting sacked over this shit?
The problen is that for both DPA/DLO and the contractor the contract is what matters. From PA/DLO point of view thecontract terms and deliverables are what they measure to control payment and and performance, anythingoutside the contract means nothing to them. For the contractor what he gets paid for is what matters, no pay no business no jobs, all tends to focus ones mind. In reality from my experience contractors are flexible as long as it does not hitthemin the pocket. Now I hear great cries about profit etc but us poor contractors do need profit, without it there is no R&D and no contractor. The root of the problem is that DPA/DLO really need to get the contracts right, they need to specify what is needed to get ships to sea and planes in the air etc. You can get what ever support you want, but it does need to be specified and paid for, specification is needed to ensure we nasty contractors actually do what is required, and the money is needed because providing support does actually cost.
Levers_Aligned said:
Furthermore, when it comes to contracts, how come we fail to grasp the concept of agreements, punitive payments for non-deliverables and the whole 'signed contract' enigma? As Page says, why do we pay Westland so much cash to build Apache when we could have bought them built and paid off the workforce and still had cash for a piss-up? Why do we allow partners, contractors, design authorities and the like to pull the strings, when once upon a time 'The Admiralty' had so much power in it's mighty fist? Or is it some kind of deal ... lucrative positions in return for compliance, too much authority vested in people in civilian shirts and ties and not enough shop-floor, uniformed staff in the procurement process? Why, I hear you ask? Because it is us who take the ******* things to sea, fly them and drive them into the teeth of the enemy, not the shirt sleeves and coffee-drinkers sat in cosy old Blighty.
Buying licence build will always cost more than an offthe shelf buy, and I suspect that if MD had been contracted to supply the same as Westland were contracted to supply it would have cost a lot more than the headline cost of one upside down grass cutter. I would also add that one has to take quoted 'production costs' for USequipment with a pich of salt. You could never buy at those prices, they are a trifle artificial.

I read with interest that McKinsey are engaged in 'consultancy' within our fold. I'd like to know two simplistic, 'don't see the bigger picture' things ... and I hope you're reading this, those in power:

1. How much has it cost the government in the past ten years in 'consultancy fees' outside of the actual warfighting game? I'm talking manpower, accomodation, welfare, procurement and anything else away from the actual teeth end of what we do? Auxiliary question ... given the amount of nause and unease in the mob these days, do you think you have had 'value-for-money'?

2. Would you like to send a McKinsey team to me, to investigate exaclty what the knock-on effects of their recommendations are? Serious statement, now. Send them to me during any FTSP over the next year ... one of their 'consultants' can shadow me and my team for, let's say, the last week of it (just as the shit starts to fly) and they can look from the fat end of the telescope at the complete mess that now exists at an extortionate cost to the taxpayer (but not to them, of course ...) If it 'isn't wise to disagree' with their recommendations, as was stated, then I'm sure I am not alone in believeing that it's possibly a worrying indication of the state of the forces in general, and the chronic impotence of our senior staff.

Levers [/quote]

The government has imposed McKinsey on a lot of organisations mainly I think as a means of cutting their budgets in a way that makes it look as if it was not a 'cut' but an improvement. It is all a bit of public hand washing and when it all goes tits up it was not the governments fault.

I agree with you that there is a real need for meaningful dialogue between the user, DPA/DLO and the contractors so that the contractors can supply what the user really needs in a way that the DPA/DLO can both afford and measure.

Good luck, it is often not that good at this end either.
 

copenhagencup

Lantern Swinger
Re: Admiral West: Armed forces face "tinpot future&quot

The bottom line Maxi is that you might not die if it is crap, forward assist on the SA80 now that's criminal !..

Pay the best consultants to write the contract, not to come and tell me how to do it, to save 5p.

Buy it proven kit off the shelf, people at the front end should no be doing R & D for your precious companies.
 
Re: Admiral West: Armed forces face "tinpot future&quot

copenhagencup said:
The bottom line Maxi is that you might not die if it is crap, forward assist on the SA80 now that's criminal !..

Pay the best consultants to write the contract, not to come and tell me how to do it, to save 5p.

Buy it proven kit off the shelf, people at the front end should no be doing R & D for your precious companies.
I think you have misunderstood my point, contractors do actually want to do the job properly but if we are not contracted to do that we are as stuffed as the guys at the front end. I am certainly not suggesting that the R&D should be done at the sharp end, although there does come a time when you have to transition out of the labs into the field.

Basically the military get from us contractos what the DPA/DLO ask for and pay for. If they get the question wrong because they don't do their preparation properly it is not our fault.

To give you an example a few years ago a colleague of mine was bidding for the supply of a new bit of kit, and did his research with the user and offered what the user wanted and needed, our competitor offered exactly what the DPA asked for and got the contract, end result we lost a whole lot of cash and a few jobs, and the user got a bit of kit that did not meet his requirements. Now you tell me was that the contractors fault, the users fault or the DPA.
 

copenhagencup

Lantern Swinger
Re: Admiral West: Armed forces face "tinpot future&quot

Maxi_77 said:
copenhagencup said:
The bottom line Maxi is that you might not die if it is crap, forward assist on the SA80 now that's criminal !..

Pay the best consultants to write the contract, not to come and tell me how to do it, to save 5p.

Buy it proven kit off the shelf, people at the front end should no be doing R & D for your precious companies.
I think you have misunderstood my point, contractors do actually want to do the job properly but if we are not contracted to do that we are as stuffed as the guys at the front end. I am certainly not suggesting that the R&D should be done at the sharp end, although there does come a time when you have to transition out of the labs into the field.

Basically the military get from us contractos what the DPA/DLO ask for and pay for. If they get the question wrong because they don't do their preparation properly it is not our fault.

To give you an example a few years ago a colleague of mine was bidding for the supply of a new bit of kit, and did his research with the user and offered what the user wanted and needed, our competitor offered exactly what the DPA asked for and got the contract, end result we lost a whole lot of cash and a few jobs, and the user got a bit of kit that did not meet his requirements. Now you tell me was that the contractors fault, the users fault or the DPA.
Peter please define who you mean by USER, fleet HQ or the guy/girl pushing the buttons.

Peter I am not convinced, all contracts should include, if it is modification because of a design error the contractor should pay. If its an enhancement to the role the MOD should pay, unfortunately this does not happen in the vast majority of cases.

At the end of the day a commercial business primary function is to maximise profit.
 

smoothbore

Lantern Swinger
Re: Admiral West: Armed forces face "tinpot future&quot

FlagWagger said:
smoothbore said:
I think the suggestion that one of the main problems with the Nimrod Mk4 was that the sub contractor could not carry out the conversion work because the work exceeded its competence is grossly inaccurate. As I understand it, the conversion was planned on a CAD/CAM basis with precisely engineered new wings. Unfortunately, BAE failed to realise that the original Nimrod airframes were handbuilt and as a consequence the new CAD/CAM wings would not fit! There were differences of up to 2 inches between the old wing sizes. The sub contractor received a compensation work package to make up for the shortfall in the Nimrod work but still sufferred financially due to a problem not of its making. BTW, I have no connection with the sub contractor.
This is a classic project management risk that is not rocket science and to say that this is not incompetence is simply playing with words; while it may not represent technically incompetence (I'm sure the CAD/CAM designed wings were more than up to the job) I'm afraid from a project management perspective this is incompetence of the highest order. An unfounded assumption was made which was subsequently used to underpin the whole commercial basis for the work. The proposal should never have got out of the door without a thorough review and confirmation that all assumptions had a) been documented and b) been confirmed. I also think that the DPA must also accept some blame for this - when they assessed Big And Expensive's proposal didn't the assumtpion that all airframes would have identical wings sound any alarm bells?
I agree but the point I was trying to make was that it was BAe's incompetence not the sub contractors. The sub contractor planned on the basis of the info/ contract that it was given by the prime ie BAe.
 
Re: Admiral West: Armed forces face "tinpot future&quot

copenhagencup said:
Peter please define who you mean by USER, fleet HQ or the guy/girl pushing the buttons.

Peter I am not convinced, all contracts should include, if it is modification because of a design error the contractor should pay. If its an enhancement to the role the MOD should pay, unfortunately this does not happen in the vast majority of cases.

At the end of the day a commercial business primary function is to maximise profit.
I mean who ever is on the front line be it in the air on the sea or on the ground. That is where the need exists and where solutions need to be found. In my experience if it is a design error made by the contractor the contractor pays, that is one thing the DPA can be quite good at. If on the other hand as it often is a specification error properly designed into the equipment then it is not the contractors fault.

Of course we need to make a profit, that profit makes the business exist. It ensures in my case we manage to employ some 2000 people on this site, and that we can invest in developing the next generation of equipment for the MOD who do not cover all the costs of such new development.

Like most companies we take customer satisfaction very seriously, the problem though is that our customer is the DPA/DLO and often satisfying them does not satisfy you.
 
Re: Admiral West: Armed forces face "tinpot future&quot

smoothbore said:
As I understand it, the conversion was planned on a CAD/CAM basis with precisely engineered new wings. Unfortunately, BAE failed to realise that the original Nimrod airframes were handbuilt and as a consequence the new CAD/CAM wings would not fit! There were differences of up to 2 inches between the old wing sizes.
You are, indeed, correct and it's precisely (excuse the near pun) the problem the Woodford production line found in the mid '60s. De Havillands, as I remember, built their fuselages in conventional jigs in 2 halves. These were joined on completion, rather like an Airfix kit. If 2 halves were completed on days with different temperatures, they had to be "coaxed" together. AVRO, on the other hand, were used to building fuselages in Fairey patented envelope jigs. This produced a very precise airframe that closely matched the loft drawings. A weakness of a large organisation cobbled together from small organisations (and remember that was a Government edict) is that the "corporate knowledge" gets diffused. There was little surprise at Woodford when the fuselages returned home to their line in New Assembly. It was a minor embuggerence that could be resolved in the drawing office next door or the one at Chadderton. Admittedly, the sub contractor didn't have that advantage. Whether that was made clear to MoD PE, I don't know.

Again, this is all from memory.
 

snorko

Lantern Swinger
Re: Admiral West: Armed forces face "tinpot future&quot

Copenhagen Cup: You ask who is the user. In reality it is the whole of the RN or the uniformed armed forces. The procurement decisions are taken at a completely different level, by the MOD and the treasury's Investment Appraisal Board, chaired by the Chief Scientific Advisor, 2nd PUS, CDL, CDP and Treasury representation. They take their advice from the Cost Benefit Analyses undertaken by the project teams. However all of this is bugger all use if we cannot write a project contract properly in the first place. I would guess - from a bit of experience and some job related reasearch, that there are VERY few uniform staff who can write a decent contract and not many more from the MOD Civil Service. A successful project (so far) is the Army's re-build of the Colchester Garrison. A £2.2Bn project over 35 years with £560M of capital works. So far it has been successful... BUT there have still been big problems. An example is when MOD policy on the size of JR's beds changed. A massive cost was incurred by us as the beds - the originals under the contract were a different size - had to be renegotiated. That is the size of the issue we have to deal with. We also change our minds all the time. No contract is going to be cost effective if we change our minds - and we carry the risk for any changes, which we will as very few contractors will want to carry unquantifiable risk. We need people who can negotiate contracts proplerly not some passed over 2 1/2 and a couple of chiefs

What we are crap at though, as you state is actually designing kit with the end users in mind... or that is the way it seems. I think what happens in many cases is that the original design is often good, but cost/size/technology/performance considerations get in the way and the end result is half baked. This isnt helped by a number of the civillian employees within the IPT's/DLO/DPA etc not having a bloody clue what they are actually supporting. They dont realise that cutting the allowance of Gaskets for Auxialliary Steam Reducers from 6 to 3 is ******* stupid because each reducer requires 2 Gaskets for a repair. There are so many more things I could drip about in this vein, but the solution to the problem we are in wrt the stores chain mostprobably requires lots of money, a MUCH more powerful IT system (oh shit!!) and more knowledgeable and highly paid staff in the Stores organisation.

Lets not give those in uniform a hard time...... as we are so far down the food chain that we can have very little influence.
 

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