RHEA Group has worked with the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) in the Netherlands, part of the Dutch Ministry of Defence, since 2019 to apply the concurrent design methodology to major projects, including the specification of new naval vessels. The DMO now plans to use concurrent design more extensively, taking inspiration from the European Space Agency (ESA), and is launching its own concurrent design facility.

Timescales

Initial pilot project: June 2019
Planned duration: 3 years to progress to self-sufficient usage

Assessment phase

Following visits to ESA and a Dutch luxury yacht builder, the DMO ran a pilot project in June 2019 looking at specifications for fixed cabin, rigid hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) for the Dutch military police. The pilot project employed RHEA’s standard procedures for all concurrent design studies, with regular sessions at the same time on the same day every week, with all subject experts and stakeholders in attendance.

The RHIBs project proved the methodology would work for the MoD by providing a thorough programme of requirements twice as fast as the typical time estimated for such a task.

M-frigate replacement programme

Dutch MoD - Artist's impression of ASW Frigate
Artist’s impression of the Anti Submarine Warfare Frigate (ASW-Frigate). Copyright: Dutch Ministry of Defence

The DMO chose to use concurrent design for a much larger, more complex programme; namely specifications for Anti Submarine Warfare Frigates (ASW-Frigate), which will replace the Dutch Navy’s M-frigate ships. This is a binational programme in partnership with the Belgian Ministry of Defence.

Several studies were identified within the programme, starting with a relatively small-scale study covering integrated logistics support to acquaint the project team with the method.

This first study, along with others for the ASW-Frigate programme, demonstrates the breadth of support that concurrent design can offer for complex projects beyond physical design, such as cybersecurity, manning and automation, and reviewing the programme of requirements.

Impact

By the end of 2020, the use of concurrent design had proved so successful that the RHEA team had expanded from three to nine to assist with the growing number of projects, at the DMO’s request. The DMO has now instigated a ‘CD quick scan’ at the beginning of any potential project to determine whether it will benefit from support through concurrent design.

Among the benefits the DMO has seen already are faster results, reduction in costs and improvements in the quality of outputs, along with contributions to team building and capacity management.

Rajko Brokken Dutch DMO MoD small“I am an optimist, but the concurrent design programme has been so successful that it has led to a pace of requests for support from within the MoD that even I did not foresee, so we have had to significantly scale up the support from RHEA. It has made us more efficient and we see results far more quickly. And it has been invaluable for team building.”
Rajko Brokken, Change Manager, Dutch Defence Materiel Organisation.

The future: self-facilitated sessions and a dedicated DMO CDF

All the concurrent design sessions undertaken to date by the DMO have been facilitated by RHEA’s SEMT team. The DMO’s plan is to become self-sufficient, following training and coaching by RHEA experts in how to plan and facilitate studies, which will take place over the next 2 years.

The DMO is also forging ahead with the launch of its own dedicated concurrent design facility (CDF), similar to that used by ESA, to maximize its flexibility in the timing of study sessions.

Main image: Copyright: Dutch Ministry of Defence