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Cost Reduction and Lead Time Reduction: Defence Services

> £1M reduction in yearly engineering costs and > 35% reduction in refit time delivered in 12 months


Defence – Engineering support for the Royal Navy

Project Length

12 months, 2 Consultants leading multiple client teams


Significantly reduce the cost and duration of boat maintenance and refit time


> 35% decrease in refit time vs historical average

£1 million+ reduction in yearly engineering costs

> 15% increase in sales as a result of increased capacity and OTIF performance

"One of the defining [features of working with Chartwell] is the focus on working with teams across the traditional functional barriers, helping the workforce to permanently solve the everyday problems that cause delays and inefficiency" - Fleet Services Director

Why was Chartwell brought on board?

The client was responsible for the maintenance, refit and overhaul of a fleet of 12 large vessels in use by the Royal Navy.  Key objectives were to deliver the boats with all work complete on schedule within a defined outage period, with overall costs reducing year on year.  However, direct observation of various engineering activities on the boat showed systemic delays and inefficiencies equivalent to half the overall activity.  These delays were often a result of poor communication and a reluctance to challenge the existing way of doing things.

Key Workstreams

Identifying the Most Important Problems

The team used a structured approach, studying the tasks which took the largest amount of time and manhours and which occurred frequently:

  • For example, at the outset of the project, it took 7 days to complete a common refit procedure.
  • Various delays accounted for > 60 % of the time on this activity:
    • Searching for the correct equipment
    • Waiting for staff from the vessel
    • Waiting for repairs to power system

Implementing Effective Performance Management Structures to Avoid Delays 

The project team improved their ability to foresee and avoid delays by implementing a suite of tools and processes for managing performance

  • Structured, pre-planning sessions were implemented, for defining actions to be completed before start of task
  • Daily and weekly performance review processes involving a cross-functional team were implemented, with the aim of:
    • Anticipating likely delays and take pre-emptive action
    • Driving multi-department actions through efficiently and without losing ownership
    • Discussing and noting issues and learnings from the previous 24 hrs to prevent future reoccurence
    • Providing effective escalation pathways and standard information flows 
  • Supporting these processes, visual management tools were created, implemented and refined with the team to make performance data easy to understand and widely accessible

These processes had an impressive impact on the refit procedure above:

  • Time to complete task reduced by over 50 %
  • Manhours to complete task reduced by > 35 %
  • Time lost due to delays reduced by > 70 %

Similar improvements were seen to other procedures, driving up performance steadily over time