Applying a whole-of-life asset management approach to shipbuilding and sustainment

PACIFIC 2019 learnings

Defence personnel, industry, and academia from Australia and overseas gathered at PACIFIC 2019 earlier this month to engage, discuss and identify challenges, opportunities and solutions in the merchant marine, shore services and Defence industries. The biennial international maritime exposition is organised by Industry Defence and Security Australia attracting more than 21,000 attendees including 21 Chief of Navy counterparts from across the Indo-Pacific region and delegations from 48 nations.

During PACIFIC the Asset Management Council and Broadspectrum hosted an industry discussion with Navy, Defence, CASG and industry leaders to determine the steps required to apply a whole-of-life asset management approach to the future of shipbuilding and sustainment. Broadspectrum has over 60 years’ experience in optimising assets for clients including the construction of two FFG-7 class frigates for the Royal Australian Navy and several ANZAC class frigates for the Australian and New Zealand Navies.

During the discussion, Dr. Anne Gibbs, CEO of the Asset Management Council, explained that Asset Management is a system that generates value by providing assurance that the people requirements, processes and standards within an organisation are being met to the required level.

It was acknowledged that meeting the challenges of Australia’s future maritime programs will require a shift in mindset and the right skills to support critical Defence capability. In the maritime domain it is essential that all parties involved in the life cycle of an asset adopt a whole-of-life approach. This would be enhanced via a leadership position within Defence responsible for the whole life of an asset. Currently in the Defence organisation the responsibility and desired outcomes for the shipbuilder are different to those maintaining the ships, potentially presenting challenges and conflict. From the perspective of the acquisition agents, the priority lies on delivering a fit-for-purpose vessel as cost effectively as possible: ship delivery sometimes overrides delivery of the logistics solution. Conversely, the sustainment agent seeks a robust maintenance program supported by technical documentation and systems to ensure vessel downtime is minimised.

Shipbuilding representatives in the room commented on the significant focus on data collection and accessibility, especially early in the design phase, and the fundamental importance of having the designer involved from the outset and engaged to maintain focus on through life sustainment.

CASG advised that the roles of Asset Manager and Capability Manager are increasingly converging, yielding the opportunity to achieve increased serviceability out of assets.

It was also suggested that there is a need to turn the ISO 55000 series from a theoretical requirements set into the practical application of that requirements set, and for having a clear Strategic Asset Management Plan to allow everyone within the organisation to understand how their role contributes to that plan.

In her opening presentation at PACIFIC, Rear Admiral Wendy Malcolm used the term Capability Lifecycle Management, which potentially suggests a change in narrative in relation to asset management. The narrative needs to be one that reinforces the criticality of sustainment and maintenance, which is often overlooked, to ensure Navy can execute its mission: “To Fight and Win at Sea”.

Concluding that we are on a long journey, there was consensus of the importance of safely delivering absolute surety of availability and reliability. Thanks to the audience for providing valuable input for the future of shipbuilding and sustainment in Australia.

As an observation, the overriding common theme at PACIFIC was the importance of collaboration and strengthening Navy’s relationship with industry and academia – a relationship critical to Navy’s capability and the protection of national interests. And a theme further reinforced by the Broadspectrum hosted industry discussion.

Dr. Anne Gibbs, Asset Management Council and Rear Admiral Peter Marshall AM, Broadspectrum.