BAE Systems Military Air Solutions — Bills of Material

This article first appeared in the in-house newspaper of BAE Systems' Military Air Solutions business. It is reproduced here by kind permission of BAE Systems Military Air Solutions.

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Above: a new communications and education activity specifically focusing upon Bills of Material management is being rolled out across the air sector

‘THE ESTABLISHMENT AND MAINTENANCE OF A POLICY AND PROCESSES FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF BILLS OF MATERIAL IN THE AIR SECTOR IS THE KEY ISSUE FOR THE THROUGH-LIFE ASPIRATIONS OF OUR BUSINESS. THE POLICY ENHANCES OUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE BY SUPPORTING OUR ABILITY TO DEMONSTRATE THAT FROM ‘AS DESIGNED’ THROUGH TO ‘AS DISPOSED’ WE CAN DELIVER THROUGH-LIFE CAPABILITY’

Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director Military Air Solutions

Defining the standards that will enhance capability

Through-life Bills of Material Management critical to success of air sector products

A Bill of Material specifically defines the standard of a product, rather than just a list of the parts used to manufacture it, or maintain it through its life.

And it's not just about aircraft – it's about any air-related product. A Bill of Material governs everything that the air sector produces and purchases, from nuts and bolts to complete air platforms.

It defines products at design stage, as they are being manufactured, ordered, built or maintained and supported.

For the air sector at BAE Systems, the management of Bills of Material is a critical – and mandatory – element of its future success as it enhances the company's ability to demonstrate through-life capability to its customers.

It is so vital that a new communications and education activity specifically focusing on Bills of Material management is being rolled out across the air sector – which encompasses all of the air-related activities of BAE Systems' air sector business; Military Air Solutions (MAS).

Following an internal audit within the Typhoon and Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programmes in 2005 by audit manager Greg Walton, a strategy group was set up.

One of the audit’s findings was that people didn’t always understand the impact of their actions up- or downstream in the product’s life-cycle from the point where they were working.

Greg said: “Generally we found that all the people involved would know their bit of the process in great detail – but very few had a view across the whole process from end to end.

“The audit found a great deal of good work and effort going on, but it wasn’t co-ordinated, and so it recommended that a single point of contact be established, who would ‘own’ the Bills of Material management process from end to end.

“It also recommended that the policy and process should go across all air sector programmes and services, and where possible, involve the customer as well.”

‘IT IS IMPORTANT TO ADHERE TO THE PROCESS BECAUSE IT IS HOW WE CONFIGURATION CONTROL OUR PRODUCT, THE ‘AS DESIGNED’, ‘AS BUILT’, ‘AS MAINTAINED’ STANDARDS. IT IS AT THE HEART OF PRODUCT ASSURANCE AND QUALITY SYSTEMS’

Simon Howison, Engineering Director

The strategy group agreed that the policy/process owner should be MAS group engineering director Simon Howison.

And, after defining the main requirements of the development strategy, a working group was established under John Hume, head of production control and logistics, to take the programme forward. Its members include experts from several MAS specialities.

John Hume told Compass: “The audit did not suggest that things weren’t being covered effectively – they just weren’t being covered efficiently.

“The ultimate test for any MAS product is the airworthiness certificate signed off by the customer. Simon (Howison) would have made sure that what-ever work had been carried out in the programme established that airworthiness using configuration management and control.

“The issue for the working group was developing the right way to manage Bills of Material given that our objective is to sustain the DAOS (Design Approved Organisation Scheme) approval and achieve MAOS (Maintenance Approved Organisation Scheme) suppliers to our customer. Having the policy and processes in place will enable us to underline our capability in those areas.

“Not only has the team completed its task – it has done so ahead of time. And there’s a real opportunity for us to export this programme to other business units across BAE Systems.”

After almost a year of intense investigation, the working group has produced a policy and process standards on Bills of Material management, which have been endorsed by the strategy board.

Its central position is that there is only one Bill of Material, which is defined by the design authority, and that is known as the “as designed”. All of the bill structures – as planned, as built, as supported, as maintained and as disposed – are views of the “as designed” structure taken from different perspectives.

Now it is sharing its work with more than 200 leaders in the organisation through education sessions from specialist trainers MML, and via an eLearning package produced by Futuremedia.

Consultant Tony Cowderoy, of MML, told Compass: “Some of the concepts developed by the BAE Systems working group represent leading-edge thinking. And in my view only a handful of companies in the UK are currently thinking the same way.

“The fundamental concept that there is only one Bill of Material provides the foundation stone for companies to solve problems of Bill of Material management over the next few years.

“In MML’s experience, it is a concept that relatively few organisations are currently aware of … and many of those who are aware of it do not properly understand it yet. BAE Systems is taking a lead in this development.”

MML will deliver the initial presentations to groups of managers and leaders at a series of presentations in the last couple of months of 2006.

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Above: Bills of Material education courses are being held for managers and leaders across the air sector

‘THE AIR SECTOR BILLS OF MATERIAL MANAGEMENT POLICY IS AN IMPORTANT ENABLER FOR US TO DEMONSTRATE FURTHER TO OUR CUSTOMERS (MOD AND DOD) THAT WE ARE A ROBUST ORGANISATION WHICH CAN MANAGE OUR PRODUCTS THROUGH THE FULL LIFE-CYCLE, RETAINING OUR DESIGN APPROVED ORGANISATION SCHEME ACCREDIATION AND HELPING US TO SECURE MAINTENANCE APPROVED ORGANISATION SCHEME ACCREDITATION’

Tony McCarthy, business operations and capability director

Working group project manager Louise Flesher said: “Five of the six courses will be at Warton, and the sixth will be held at Brough before the end of December. The focus of the education package that’s currently being rolled out is largely – but not exclusively – on engineering, manufacturing and procurement across the air sector.

“The intention is that managers and team leaders who go on the course will take the learning back to their own groups and help their colleagues to understand why the Bills of Material management policy and process standards are so important. The interactive eLearning package developed by Futuremedia will be an invaluable tool in supporting this. It is available to everyone via a link on the dedicated BOM web site.

“We ran a half-day pilot course for members of the working group, the strategy group, and some other invited delegates. The course’s technical content, structure and the handouts produced a very positive response. Every member of the strategy group came up afterwards and said it was just what we needed.”

She added: “By early 2007 we anticipate that between 5-6,000 people across the air sector will have a fundamental understanding of Bills of Material management in the air sector. We’re using Team Brief, as well as a dedicated website reachable from the Air Systems intranet home page, and have condensed the key messages onto an A6 information card that will also be widely available.

“And the course will also be available on the peopleportal integrated development portfolio next year.”

Head of design engineering Jim Banks added: “Group members have been working closely with some of our senior engineers, and their feedback generally has been very positive. Initially there were concerns that this was something they hadn’t done before but these were quickly dispelled when they realised that, actually, they had.

“The new policy and process standards merely consolidate and co-ordinate the management process.”

He added: “It’s been a real learning opportunity for the members of the team as well. Nobody has come away from the working group saying ‘I knew that before we started!’”

Vic Winrow, manufacturing and engineering processes manager, said: “My role on the working group was to look at the integration between design and manufacturing, in order to make sure the Bill of Material developed in the design phase was able to be passed on to the shop floor and assembly areas and onward to our external suppliers.

“Everything feeds back to that initial design standard. The Bills of Material management policy and process has allowed everyone involved to appreciate the impact made by each of those bills of material as it goes through the initial life cycle, and moves into service, maintenance, support and ultimately disposal.

“Clearly there will be aspects of concern that will be driven back from the support environment and we will have to take them into account when devising our future service plans.

“What’s important is that we understand every aspect of the product and we can support it so that the Customer gets a better service overall. That’s what we’re aiming for, and that doesn’t mean just the RAF, but any Customer with a service and maintenance requirement.

“It could mean 50 plus years in service for some of our products like Canberra, which is 60, and Tornado which is already 30 years in operation.

“What this work does is link the bills of material back in to the company’s record creation, retention and disposal policy.”

Last word on the programme comes from the man whose audit started the ball rolling.

Greg Walton said: “I attended the pilot course with members of the strategy and working groups and found it very interesting.

“While I had been in at the start, I had not been involved in any of the development work that had gone on. And to come in and compare the reality with what I would like to have seen was very impressive. It exceeded my expectations.”

‘THE NEW POLICY IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT PROVIDES, FOR THE FIRST TIME, A COMPLETE THROUGH-LIFE APPROACH TO THE MANAGEMENT OF BILLS OF MATERIAL. IT HELPS US DEMONSTRATE TO OUR CUSTOMERS THAT WE UNDERSTAND THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE THROUGH-LIFE CYCLE OF OUR PRODUCTS AND OPERATION BY OUR END USER’

Cliff Robson, Director of Integrated Operations, Military Air Solutions

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