The program to design and construct the Collins Class Submarine has become one of the most complex and expensive Defence procurement programs in history. It was devised to replace the existing Oberon submarine fleet. The Collins Class Submarine program demonstrated the capacity of Australian industry to manufacture a world-class submarine. Nonetheless, the procurement of the Collins Class Submarines has not been without criticism. The program has experienced various project management issues that ultimately lead to increased costs and time delays. This report will address these issues along with traditional Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and non-traditional KPIs and ...view middle of the document...
Kockums had been selected as the design contractor to the Collins program. The design team was in Malmo, Sweden - separated by more than 15,000km from the construction site. This separation presented communication and data-sharing challenges. Furthermore, the new design contained a number of technical risks, one of them was designing a submarine that would operate in a manner and environment very different from what Kockums was accustomed to. The risk resulted fuel system has been proven to be problematic. Swedish submarines have short patrols in calm, relatively fresh water. When a similar design was used in the salty, open water in which Australian submarines operate, water was sucked into the engine causing failure. Moreover, the RAN submarines transit greater distance and are on station for months at time, which has number of implications for fuel storage, hotel service, and other hull design features. The difference in operation concept and environment ultimately led to some equipment and system decision during design that caused problems with operations and supportability.
While accepting that on some issues such as noise there were significant differences between ‘the contracted requirements and the Navy’s current operational requirements’, McIntosh and Prescott (1999) concluded that there were serious deficiencies in the design and manufacture of the submarines. Moreover the requirements and RAN’s expectations had changed since the specifications were established, due primarily to advances in technology. What the 1987 contract laid down was not what the Navy wanted by 1997, yet under a fixed-price contract ASC was determined (and well within its rights) to do no more than it was contractually bound to do (Yule & Woolner, 2008).
Problems associated with changes to design and late delivery of parts manifested in extensive re-work undertaken by Boral. Updating drawings and keeping detailed records of all changes imposed significant administrative overhead, leading to further schedule delays (Yule and Woolner, 2008) and higher overhead costs. These issues could have been prevented if consideration was given to the submarine’s design scope and the manufacturing requirements to meet the design.
2.2 Building Submarines
Kockums and ASC had their own unique modular construction approach, which allowed sections of the submarines to be built throughout Australia and the world, including the Kockums yard in Sweden. From this unique approach, each module and all sub-components could be manufactured and assembled prior to undergoing quality inspections. As with all the Australian sub-contractors, ASC Engineering would be the prime quality control authority to make sure all sub-contractors meet the project’s quality standards. However, Australian manufacturing had never had to compete on quality, and there were only 35 Australian companies in the early 1980s that were certified to meet international standards (Yule & Woolner, 2008). The...