Technology management in warship acquisition

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1 management in warship acquisition A J Shanks B.Eng(Hons) MIET BMT Defence Services Limited SYNOPSIS Today s warship designers and engineers look to technology to provide warships and systems better, cheaper and faster. Technologies can take the form of a new material, a new process or technique, or the application of an existing technology in a novel way. Every technology presents an intrinsic risk and/or opportunity; so how is the designer, engineer or project manager to decide which technology to use? To make successful decisions requires understanding and management of potential technologies. This paper presents an approach towards Management, Acquisition and Planning which seeks to help the warship designer or project manager to make the most effective use of technologies. The approach presents a suite of tools and techniques to support the technology management process. Crucially, the cradle to grave process can be accessed at any point in a product lifecycle from concept through technology insertion to life extension. The paper shows how integrated applications can be used to determine which emerging technologies have the potential to meet the needs of a particular project. It describes how maturity is assessed, how cost and risk are incurred over time and how action plans can be developed by the design team and brought together to aid communication. The paper explores the various reports, plans and roadmaps that can be configured to convey information to stakeholders at all levels both internal and external to the project. The paper explains the many benefits that can be realised from the integrated approach and how it should help ensure that innovation can be exploited earlier in the design process. INTRODUCTION In the UK the publication of the Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS) White Paper sets the scene for working together across all the Defence Lines of Development (DLoDs), to deliver the right equipment and services fit for the purpose at the right time and the right cost. Building on the intent described in the DIS, the Defence Strategy (DTS) provides the clarity and direction needed for success by describing the underpinning technologies that are important to defence. Together the DIS and DTS offer clear guidance to assist industry and the research, science and technology base to understand the broader needs of the UK MoD and the fundamental importance of linking its needs to the technology investment opportunities that exist now and in the future. Warship Acquisition The acquisition process has the stated aim of making capability acquisition faster, cheaper and better through team working, a whole lifecycle approach and by implementing best practice at all times. However the design and build of a warship is a complex undertaking and is the product of many engineering disciplines to create a single unified and integrated platform capable of delivering the desired military capability. A key differentiator between commercial and military ship building is the timescale for the design and build process as identified in Table 1. For a warship this is significantly longer, in part due to the desire to incorporate advanced technology in order to maintain a strategic military advantage. By contrast the commercial focus is on the adoption of currently available technologies in order to reduce the timescales and to therefore start generating revenue as quickly as possible. Author s Biography Alastair Shanks has been a Senior Systems Engineer for BMT Defence Services in Bath UK, since Previously he has served on UK submarines and has spent time as an Electronic Design Engineer in industry. He is currently the project manager for a number of technology management work streams and is consequently working closely with UK MoD and industry. April 2008 Page 1 of 11 BMT Defence Services Ltd

2 Design and Build Expected Life Focus Commercial Ship 3 Years years Revenue Generation Military Warship 15 Years Years Military Effect Table 1 - Military Warship V Commercial Ship Additionally, a warship s capability is required to evolve through life to counter emerging threats and changing defence environment while the role of a commercial ship remains mainly unchanged through life. Enablers to Affordable, Adaptable and Flexible Warships Future warships are required to be affordable, adaptable and flexible. One of the biggest challenges for designers of future warships is to be able to design them with sustainable, maintainable and adaptable systems with increased growth margins that are able to support incremental acquisition and spiral development. Combat system equipments (i.e. sonar, weapons, communications systems, etc) are increasingly designed with open systems architectures and utilising COTS/MOTS equipment to ease the process of technology refresh in addressing equipment obsolecence issues and reducing unit procurement and through life costs. Open systems provide projects with the flexibility to look to a range of suppliers to support technological advances. Their use should therefore be considered by projects when planning technology management. Open systems in themselves do not overcome equipment obsolescence but looks to deliver more cost effective solutions by removing the need for expensive bespoke equipment and associated interfaces. Design and engineering factors will assist in tackling some of these challenges. It is also important to match good design practices and new technologies with the effective application of Planning, Insertion and Through Life Capability Management to significantly increase the chances of meeting the challenging requirements of defence. WHAT IS TECHNOLOGY? There are many, and varied, views of the definition of technology. For example; for the crew of a warship technology may be considered to be a physical product, component, equipment, subsystem or tool. In the wider operational context a technology could also be considered in terms of knowledge, i.e. the skills and techniques required to operate a warship s systems. A distinction to be made here is between product technology and process technology. Process technology is what an organisation may use to achieve its business objectives in terms of product delivery. In the context of a warship, process technology considers the tasks and techniques required to manage the design and delivery of a warship that is fit for purpose. When considering technology it is important not to think of it in isolation, as once the technology is introduced it is the crew of the warship that will operate the systems delivered. A failure to do so will mean that a technology may be fully mature and integrated into a system but it may not be exploited to its full potential. Thus it is essential that all DLoDs are considered and matured as part of the technology management strategy. TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT IN TERMS OF WARSHIP ACQUISITION management in terms of warship acquisition seeks to influence the ultimate design of the vessel to ensure that the needs of defence are met. The main approaches to this are to build on the experience gained through other programmes, in order to reduce project risk, and to look at new or emerging technologies to assess the potential risks and opportunities for exploitation. The lifecycle of a warship project, from Concept to Disposal, may span a period of 40 to 50 years. There is a need to actively manage the warship s capability throughout its life in order to counter evolving and emerging threats and to deal with equipment obsolescence. Clearly the availability of new technologies, technology derisking opportunities, alternative approaches to design and arrangement, and novel acceptance strategies can go some way to tackling these challenges. Figure 1 depicts an approach to link Management and Capability Management. The interactions between technology, capability and external influences are shown explicitly. The model may be used to assess all of the technologies available against the identified capability gaps that need to be managed through targeted investment. Each of the three key components of the model are outlined below. April 2008 Page 2 of 11 BMT Defence Services Ltd

3 Influencers Threats Opportunities Physical Environment Scenarios Capability Management Capability Planning Programmes Delivery Current Portfolio Audit & Readiness Assessment and Capability Integration Investment Prioritisation R&D Projects / Research Watch System Maturation Management Figure 1 - Linking Management to Capability Development Influencers Influencers are the external factors which must be taken into consideration during the design process if technology is to deliver the effect required. The physical environment and emerging threats are important components in warship design. It is therefore imperative that a clear understanding of the doctrines, processes, practices and culture adopted in their operation is gained to ensure the delivery and acceptance of a capability. Capability Management Capability Management involves developing a clear definition of the capability requirement in terms of one or more statements of capability need. Capability Planning captures the goals, measures of effectiveness and the scenarios which set the operational context in which capabilities are utilised. Delivery involves ensuring that all DLoDs have been considered and solutions implemented; for example, a warship without a trained crew is unlikely to be effective. Management Management seeks to inform decision making by identifying, understanding, informing and exploiting the critical technologies needed to provide the capability demanded. It involves developing an awareness of the technologies which are available or may be available in the future. It includes processes for technology identification, acquisition, selection, portfolio assessment, readiness assessments, prioritisation, development, sustainability and protection. Watch forms an integral part of technology management as it aims to provide early visibility and information on emerging technologies that may be relevant to a project. TECHNOLOGY EXPLOITATION There are a range of stakeholders involved in the process of technology development and management. Figure 2 illustrates an outline process by which technology needs are identified and managed through to their exploitation. The process is interlinked by the activities of identifying, understanding, informing and exploiting technology opportunities. April 2008 Page 3 of 11 BMT Defence Services Ltd

4 push is mainly driven by the ideas and innovation that have been developed by SMEs in academia and industry to address a specific or perceived customer need. In this case, initially there may be no clear exploitation route identified and this would need to be managed to ensure that the technology was understood and exploited as appropriate. pull by contrast is driven by a specific customer need to satisfy the specific requirements or the shortcomings of existing technologies and is likely to be communicated from the capability management process (as described in Figure 1). Identify Push Continuous and Interlinked Activities Understand Inform Pull Exploit Figure 2 - Exploitation Activities (Reproduced from MoD Guidance) The requirement to identify both current and emerging technologies that offer benefit is well understood. However, for such activities to be truly effective, good relationships need to be maintained between the supply network and the end users. Obtaining accurate information from such relationships is in the interests of the technology providers, however a strong culture of trust is essential between decider and provider parties to free up the flow of information and to avoid issues such as IPR and breaches of trademark or commercial confidentiality. The key reason for undertaking such technology exploration studies is the need to inform key decision makers with accurate and timely information. Key decision makers include those that are ultimately responsible for delivering through life capability but also include those that are in a position to assist in delivering the technology that could maintain such capability. An awareness of the emerging technologies enables a better understanding of the appropriate exploitation strategy to be established. The need to develop a balanced and affordable investment approach is key to managing emerging technologies and in the wider context, a thorough understanding of equipment and in-service programmes is also required to ensure the potential for technology exploitation is fully understood. TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK From the initiation of a project there is a need to develop a high level understanding of the technologies required to deliver the capability and how these will be integrated into the system as a whole. The Acquisition Process at Figure 3 presents an iterative process that will enable a project manager to refine and manage the technology management process. The key components of acquisition process are to derive the technology drivers and the technology needs, and then to establish the plans and investment that will mature these technologies to satisfy the project requirements. April 2008 Page 4 of 11 BMT Defence Services Ltd

5 Figure 3 - Acquisition Process (Reproduced from MoD Guidance) Tools and Techniques for Management In order to realise the potential benefits of existing and emerging technologies we must be aware of the mechanisms, processes and stakeholders that assist in bringing technologies from identification to ultimate exploitation. A number of tools and techniques exist that can be applied in future warship programmes during various stages of the acquisition programme. In recognition of the need to adopt and support a more integrated approach to technology management BMT has developed and utilises a through life technology management framework, supported by a web-based software tool called BMT TeMAP. In the following paragraphs the framework will be discussed to illustrate the types of techniques, management data, plans and graphical outputs that are necessary to support the effective management of technology. In the Framework at Figure 4 it can be seen that the Acquisition process is an iterative process that will be repeated many time throughout the project lifecycle. The following paragraphs aim to elaborate on some of the technology management processes and techniques that are used within this framework to deliver the assurance that the technology is maturing at an adequate rate and that it will be capable of delivering the required outputs. April 2008 Page 5 of 11 BMT Defence Services Ltd

6 Outputs Process / Techniques C A D M I D D I S C I P L I N E S Configuration Management Through Life Capability Management Management and Planning Production Management and Planning Requirements Management T O O L S Obsolescence Management Figure 4 - Management Framework April 2008 Page 6 of 11 BMT Defence Services Ltd

7 Readiness Levels The adoption of good technology management practice will allow a sound understanding of project technical and technology risk to be communicated to all appropriate stakeholders and enable co-ordinated exploitation of technology opportunities. risk may be defined as the risk that an underpinning technology, necessary for a capability, will not mature within the required time frame. There are a number of tools and techniques to measure maturity and Readiness Levels (TRLs) are being adpoted in many domains. Table 2 presents the UK MoD rating system used to assess TRLs. The TRL descriptions should be tailored to satify the needs of a specific project and the levels of technology maturation desired at key decision points. It is relatively simple to use, however there are some known limitations in that it does not: Assess the uncertainty of integrating technology into a system, which is done by System Readiness Level (SRL) assessment; Consider the speed of technology obsolescence e.g. COTS products; Consider the time to market or measure the technology maturation cycle time. Level TRL 9 TRL 8 TRL 7 TRL 6 TRL 5 TRL 4 TRL 3 TRL 2 TRL 1 Description Actual system qualified through successful mission operations. Actual technology system completed and qualified through test and demonstration. system prototype demonstration in an operational environment. system / subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment. component and/or basic technology subsystem validation in relevant environment. component and/or basic technology subsystem validation in laboratory Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof-of concept. concept and/or application formulated. Basic principles observed and reported Table 2 - Readiness Levels (Reproduced from MoD Guidance) The significance of TRLs for a warship design project is to mature the candidate technology options to TRL3 by the end of the Concept phase and TRL7 by the end of the Assessment phase in order to de-risk the warship acquisition cycle and to inform decision making at these key milestones. Assessment assessment is essentially focused on exploring design, cost and risk drivers, understanding technology and their lifecycles and relating these to emerging warship programmes. The outputs from this process also support the science, research and technology development needs. By comparing this to existing technology development and research plans we can assess how good the fit is, what if any gaps exist, and what changes should be proposed. Figure 5 illustrates typical technology views that can be used to associate the relevance and suitability of technologies to the requirements of a project and to predict the TRLs maturation over a suitable timeframe. April 2008 Page 7 of 11 BMT Defence Services Ltd

8 Figure 5 - Assessment Views Roadmaps Roadmaps form an important part of the management strategy as they are used to communicate the technology maturation timeline and to identify where technology development timescales exceed that of the project. The roadmap communicates the technology alternatives that are capable of delivering the projects requirements and the route by which these may be emodied in the final product. Once the roadmap (Figure 6) has been developed and activities have been put into place to ensure the availability of the technologies to meet the developing requirements of the project, the management challenge is to ensure that sufficient time is provided within the plan to allow technology risk reductions to be undertaken. The roadmap includes contingency plans that may be adopted in the event that the technology matures more quickly or slowly than expected. April 2008 Page 8 of 11 BMT Defence Services Ltd

9 Figure 6 - Roadmap Assurance Once an technology has matured to a TRL that makes it a viable contender for exploitation within a project, there must be a clear strategy by which it can be down-selected or eliminated against the alternatives. It is during the concept phase that the more fundamental technology options are likely to be addressed. A functional model, ideally across the entire warship, will provide a structure within which the impact of new technologies can be considered. However attractive the benefits of the technology may be there are challenges that the project will face in its implementation. To mitigate this, Assurance should be used to provide confidence that the project is managing its introduction. The following questions are relevant to the assurance activity: Which functions can be implemented by the new technology? Is the technology linked to specific Safety Integrity Levels (SILs) and does the technology cover the necessary set of safety related functions? Is the technology associated with particular suppliers and does its introduction therefore place constraints on the commercial boundaries with other suppliers To what extent is the technology linked to changes in personnel levels and the operability of the warship s systems? From an assurance perspective, any concept that considers the use of new technology is forced to examine how the functional partitioning will be affected by its introduction as in Figure 7. Consideration needs to be given to how the functions should be partitioned to reflect sub-system, commercial, safety, and operating boundaries. If this is not considered as an integral part of the technology assessment, major risks could become embedded and the project could expect problems to arise later. April 2008 Page 9 of 11 BMT Defence Services Ltd

10 Figure 7 - Functional, commercial, safety and technological boundaries must be coherent From the project s point of view, the assurance arises from the ability to explore, not only the functionality and performance of the technology, but its impact on the whole procurement process. Provisional modelling of the anticipated interfaces and working boundaries allows potential suppliers to be asked questions that they may find difficult to answer but which, far from compromising the chance to introduce the technology, are invaluable in risk reduction. The issues raised can be fed back into the technology development programme, captured in the roadmap and TRL assessments. CONCLUSIONS Warship acquisition is complex and therefore requires robust and cost effective management. For technology management to be successful there are many interdependent issues and constraints that need to be identified and resolved. There are certain key questions that need to be asked: What technologies are available? Are the technologies mature enough to meet the requirements? Can the technology be matured in an affordable manner, and if so where should investment be prioritised? Are there barriers and constraints to technology exploitation? Can the technology be matured in the timeframes of the project? This paper has set out a framework for technology management, this includes a number of tools and techniques to provide the management information required to ensure that the benefits of the investment in technology is realised. These included: Providing clear and unambiguous information to inform better decision making; Gaining a thorough understanding of the technology needs to meet the capability requirements; Establishing an integrated approach to identify and manage technology maturation and exploitation; Early identification of the technology risks to the project. The technology management process is continually evolving and the focus to date has been on the processes applied in the concept and assessment phases. However, warships may have an in-service life of over 40 years and therefore technology management must be addressed through life. Mr Tim Hardy, BMT Defence Services. Mr Ralph Hudson, BMT Defence Services. Mr Dominic Manchee, BMT Defence Services. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS April 2008 Page 10 of 11 BMT Defence Services Ltd

11 REFERENCES MoD Acquisition Operating Framework (AOF). MoD Defence Strategy, MoD Roadmapping Systems Guidance, Dr Robert Phaal - Centre for Management, University of Cambridge. Readiness Levels (TRLs) guidance, Issue 3.0. Insertion - A Marine Engineering Perspective, Hardy et al, BMT Defence Services. GLOSSARY CADMID COTS DIS DLODs DTS HMI IPR MoD MOTS R&D SIL SME SRL TLCM TRL Concept, Assessment, Demonstration, Manufacture, In-Service and Disposal Commercial Off The Shelf Defence Industrial Strategy Defence Lines of Development Defence Strategy Human Machine Interface Intellectual Property Rights Ministry of Defence Military Off the Shelf Research and Development Safety Integrity Level Subject Matter Expert System Readiness Level Through Life Capability Management Readiness Level April 2008 Page 11 of 11 BMT Defence Services Ltd

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