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Cost Reduction: Defence

"One of the defining factors 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


Defence – Engineering support for the Royal Navy

Support Level

2 Consultants


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


  • 40 % decrease in refit time
  • £4 million reduction in yearly engineering costs

Why bring in experts in operational improvement?

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.

Results of the project

The boat refit time was reduced by 40 % against the historical average. This reduced time allowed for more enhancement work to be completed and an overall reduction in the through life cost of boat maintenance.  The consequence of this is that projects are delivered on time, increasing vessel availability.  Additionally, a 15 % increase in work delivered to the Royal Navy was seen, as well as £4 million saved in annual engineering costs.

Examples of Project Work

What type of problems caused delays on a refit?


At the outset of the project, it took 7 days to complete a common refit procedure.


Various delays accounted for 62 % of the time on this activity:

  • 15 % ► Searching for the correct equipment
  • 9 %   ► Waiting for staff from the vessel
  • 8 %   ► Waiting for repairs to power system
How did the team eliminate these delays?


Project team improved their ability to foresee and avoid delays by:

  • Pre-planning session for actions to be completed before start of task
  • Anticipate likely delays and take pre-emptive action
  • Daily task force brief to coordinate between departments
  • Visual management and regular progress updates
  • Discuss and note issues and learnings from the previous 24hrs
What were the impacts of these efforts?


The team were able to make an oustanding impact on the refit time:

  • Time to complete task reduced from 7 days to 3.75 days
  • Manhours to complete task reduced by 40 %
  • Time lost due to delays reduced by 75 %