Performance to Plan (P2P) is a data-centric, analytical approach the Navy uses for a variety of improvement initiatives, including ship maintenance, to clearly characterize availability performance goals and develop solutions to improve availability duration outcomes.
Fleet maintenance is a critical business function with an imperative to develop innovative solutions so process efficiency is improved without compromising safety and quality.
This case study shows, in order to improve a highly complex fleet maintenance system, it is necessary to develop a comprehensive and valid model of the operational system, which represents not just what is goal targets to happen, but what normally happens.
This model provides the backdrop against which to change or improve the system. A performance report, the Blocker Report, specific to fleet maintenance and related to the model was developed gathering data on anything that ‘blocks’ task or check performance.
A Blocker Resolution Process was designed to resolve blockers and improve the current check system to be rolled out across all fleet hangars of the enterprise.
Approved maintenance schedule puts out the mandatory maintenance programme, and is broken down into checks at various intervals, designated as either line checks, overnight checks and the heaviest checks to empower crews to conduct both routine and non-routine maintenance of the aircraft.
This maintenance includes scheduling the repair of known problems, replacing items after a certain flight time, number of cycles or calendar time, repairing defects discovered from reports logged by pilots and crews or items deferred from previous maintenance and performing scheduled repairs or inspections.
Once maintenance and inspection are scheduled for a fleet component, the plans are translated into, first, a check ‘work pack’ and then into a set of ‘task cards’ giving the instructions for the maintenance personnel to carry out the different tasks on the aircraft.
A major check may have thousands of task cards. Each task card will include a description of the task and contain information pertaining to the type of fleet component. Accomplishment of the intent of the task card initially comes from within the aircraft manufacturer's maintenance manuals used while performing maintenance on any part of the fleet. The task card is a tool that when properly executed provides ‘proof’ of work accomplishment and it exacts accountability from inspectors signing off the card.
Overall, the improvement initiative has been successful leadership was happy with the results. The mix of the different levels of intervention was an important aspect of designing the improvement system.
The improvements taking place at the hangar level helped to show staff that management were committed and serious about the initiative and willing to invest in them and their working conditions.
Once this commitment had been demonstrated, crews responded well when given responsibility to take charge of designing the improvement initiative, of investigating and resolving blockers, of improving the check and meeting customer requirements showing the initiative to meet the challenge.
Data the crews had not seen before were put on the high visibility notice boards in relation to overall check performance, combining some of the performance/quality indicators. The crews involved in, not just identifying problems and possible areas for improvement but became empowered and given a budget to resolve them.
The crew’s work was recognised and supported in the organisation and they were given adequate time to carry out the improvement work. In the beginning, some of crew did not have training for the automatic logistics system. At the end of the first trial they were ‘firing off’ messages to different departments requesting status updates on the resolution of certain blockers.
The work on mapping and modelling the current check process and identifying blockers to task performance based on taking a systems perspective on the location, effect and impact of those blockers led to new levels of work performed on checks.
Time given to the Improvement Team allowed for participants to ask questions of each other and about each other's work. At a cross-departmental level this was not happening. There was an underlying, inadequate assumption that each area knew what the other did and how they all fit together in the organisation and worked together to fulfil the overall goals of the organisation.
New initiative has lead to more insightful diagnosing, planning and taking action. In an initiative of this scale where so much time and energy is invested, along with the internal reviews and milestones, the following questions require ongoing evaluations.
One potential source of delays is unplanned work, which consists of both growth work and new work. The Navy defines growth work as additional work that is identified or authorized after contract award that is related to a work item included in the original contract. We previously found that growth work contributed to cost and schedule increases, and it remains a contributing factor. As an example, one official stated that they cannot fully inspect ballast tanks and accurately write work specifications for their repair until the ship is at the repair yard and the availability has begun. Negotiating change orders for unplanned work under MAC-MO is more difficult and time consuming than under the prior MSMO strategy because the Navy can no longer direct the contractor to continue to work without agreeing on the cost.
Navy defines new work as any additional work that is identified or authorized after contract award that is not related to a work item included in the original contract. Maintenance team officials stated that new work can originate when an item that needs repair breaks or the maintenance team first discovers it after the Navy awards the contract. The Navy can also add new work to an availability whenever it sees fit.
Availability had 60 instances of growth work that the Navy considered unidentifiable prior to the start of the availability, including welding for the fuel tanks and repair to the bulkheads. Officials stated that the Navy used unilateral modifications to direct the contractor to execute growth work items and avoid further schedule.
Navy officials stated that negotiating change orders for unplanned work under MAC-MO is more difficult and time consuming than under the prior MSMO strategy because the Navy can no longer direct the contractor to continue to work without agreeing on the cost. In one of our case study availabilities.
The Navy recognizes the negative schedule outcomes it currently faces with MAC-MO strategy implementation and has worked to mitigate them. It has implemented new contracting provisions and is moving key availability milestones to earlier in the process in an effort to better plan availabilities and facilitate their on-time completion.
LOE to Completion
LOE to Completion allows the Navy to obligate funding for labor-hours and material costs for estimated growth work at the time of award, rather than having to obtain appropriate funds after repair work begins. The Navy can then use those labor-hours and materials for individual growth work items over the course of the availability. While noting the potentially positive effects of shifting award date to 120 days before the availability begins, Navy officials also raised some challenges. They said that locking ship repair requirements almost a full year before an availability actually begins means that the Navy could finalize a ship’s upcoming availability work specifications before a ship even begins its next deployment.
During this deployment, equipment breakages or other deficiencies not anticipated and subsequently not included in the work package could arise on the ship, all of which would likely become growth work during the availability included in the work package could arise on the ship, all of which would likely become growth work during the availability.
According to third-party planning contractor representatives, they monitor contract changes involving growth work, assess whether that growth is due to planning deficiencies or other causes, and then identify lessons learned, which they use to improve their specification writing process.
For example, contractor representatives stated that they used lessons learned during Destroyer availability to create a template for a section of the forecastle deck plate. This template could be used on future availabilities for ships of the same destroyer class, providing potential cost savings to future availabilities.
Upward Obligation Approval
In 2019, legislation was approved responsive to the Navy concerns relating to the process of approving upward obligations more than $4 million in its MAC-MO availabilities. In the Fiscal Year 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act,
Congress established a pilot program that allows the Navy to use the Other Procurement, Navy (OPN) account to fund Pacific fleet surface ship repair availabilities for 2020.
Our review of Navy budget documentation shows that the Navy plans to execute 16 pilot availabilities using fiscal year 2020 OPN funds, and it has requested funding for another 26 pilot availabilities in fiscal year 2021. Unlike the Operations and Maintenance, Navy account, which the Navy typically uses to fund ship repair availabilities in 1-year increments, the OPN account provides the Navy with funding that will not expire for 3 years.
Consequently, for availabilities the Navy funds through the pilot program, any growth work that necessitates an availability stretching into a second or even third year will avoid upward obligations and the related approval processes, provided sufficient funding remains in the OPN appropriation to cover the work.
The Navy has recently begun implementing two new contractual approaches—horizontal and vertical contract bundling—within its MACMO strategy, but has not yet had sufficient time to collect or assess results.
These approaches are intended to increase contractors’ visibility into and confidence regarding future ship repair workloads. Navy leadership officials stated that by awarding multiple availabilities, industry receives a body of work that creates confidence in hiring and retaining a skilled workforce and investment in infrastructure.
These approaches provide for contractors to propose on multiple ship repair availabilities that the Navy has bundled within a single request for proposal. Horizontal bundling helps them decide where to direct ship repair and maintenance work, especially as a means to not surpass capacity at a given port.
Contractor anticipate positive effects from horizontal bundling to include being awarded two availabilities from one proposal process and guarantees of work for a longer period than one availability. Vertical Contract Bundling approach has the potential to allow contractors to increase their workload through only one proposal process.
Leveling Port Workloads
Through its P2P initiative, the Navy intends to use historical timelines from recent availabilities to more accurately plan and forecast future availability time frames. This effort is using computer modeling to avoid either underutilizing or exceeding the available port loading capacity of the industrial base in any given timeframe. On average, NAVSEA leadership stated that they intend to lengthen planned availability timeframes by 56 days to more accurately reflect completion times. The officials assessed that this strategy will help ship repair contractors better manage their workforce planning.. If contractors have increased visibility in port loading, they will be more likely to hire an increased number of permanent staff in key ship repair trades and allow for increased workload capacity at a given port, so workers will become more skilled over time and therefore would require less on-the-job training.
1. Assess organisational readiness to change and identify key areas to be addressed with staff workshop
2. Execute initial communication sessions with all staff explaining rationale for and objectives of change.
3. Establish a hangar improvement team to run with the change process and training.
4. Engagement with an iteratively developed meeting schedule to facilitate improvement and resolve blockers.
5. Communicating the status of blocker reports to staff through the use of high visibility notice boards in the hangar and designing the new ‘to be’ process.
6. Assess the needs of the hangar from a staff perspective and create improvement plan based on assessment.
7. Establish relationships with people from other departments involved in the check process e.g. planning and commercial, engineering
8. Explore relationships between the new blocker report and existing network systems to gather data on different aspects of check performance
9. Establish a systematic approach to the oversight of key performance indicators KPIs in relation to the overall base maintenance process and check process
10. Strengthen relationship with the customer, including having daily meetings, post check ‘wash up’ meetings, post check customer surveys and analysis