Swedish Defence Materiel Administration

The modernisation of the Swedish Home Guard led to Celab’s greatest challenge ever, at least logistically.

The home guard plays an increasingly significant role in the Swedish Defence, which results in an increasing need for modern equipment. Given that the Home Guard also constitutes almost half of the Swedish Armed Forces, it is easy to understand that such an armament creates larger ripples. One of these ripples led to Celab’s most extensive and challenging contract to date.

Military branch in need of new tech

The Home Guard should be able to operate across the complete spectrum of conflict. From community support during peace to armed combat in war. Their main task is to monitor and protect Sweden. In order to solve these tasks they need to continuously improve both themselves and their equipment. As a part of this development the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) issued a public procurement for the delivery of a complete solution for group communications within the Home Guard.

The RFP specifications, that filled a binder, comprised not only communication equipment and accessories for tens of thousands of soldiers but also services, support and documentation development. It quickly became clear to Celab that it would require extraordinary efforts regardless of the outcome. Just the magnitude of the contract would require special attention to cash flows, warehouse space and logistics. Circumstances that in Celab’s case normally do not need any further thought.

After a few months Celab received notice that they had won the contract. The contract signed gave FMV the right to order products and services to a value of at least 150 million (SEK) until 2020. Although the announced was received with great delight, the mood quickly got serious again after realizing it was actually now the real work would begin.

An unusual procurement presented expected challenges.

Before equipment is allowed within the Swedish Armed Forces it needs to undergo an approval process. Safety analyses needs to be performed, maintenance plans formed and user manuals created. Service checklists need to be established, data bases updated and training executed. The list is long.

This approval process is usually implemented by FMV themselves. In this contract however they requested a complete solution, making Celab the sole supplier. Alongside the sheer extent this was the main challenge.

There was close to 60 different products that all had to be weighed, measured and described. Explained, put in a context and finally documented in a number of documentation packages focusing on safety, specifications, maintenance and training. A process that has required thousands of man hours in total.

- After the news that we had won the contract the very first step was to create a project page on our intranet. A page that today consists of fifty different document created especially for this project, the largest of which a user manual covering over 100 pages

- Joakim Forsberg, Responsible for project documentation, Celab.

Large quantities required team work

To be able to manage the logistics three additional warehouse workers where employed early on. Their task was basically to prepare all equipment for packaging and shipping together with regular staff. This meant registering and labelling all equipment and some processing and testing of selected components.

It is easy to understand that the warehouse staff really got a mouth full when you consider the hundred thousand components, fifty thousand labels and thirty thousand documents that needed attention.

After they strained themselves for months only one element remained, shipping preparation. In the weeks leading up to the delivery date two assembly lines were set up at the head office. Lines that engaged nearly all staff in sorting and packing the equipment in 14 different kits. Kits that in the same process were put into one of the 17000 labelled bags or boxes.

- The project has so far been more or less as expected. A lot of work for almost everyone, even more for some, but we made it. And we have picked up a few things that will help us with large projects in the future.

- Lars-Göran Johansson, Project manager, Celab

Some well needed breathing room

In the end of November 2012 103 pallets of equipment left Celab and an important milestone was reached. The day before, FMV had been on-site to carry out their acceptance test. Because the delivery was scheduled the next day, there was no margins for error. With a few minor complaints they received the long awaited approval.

- Just before FMV left us after the acceptance test they pointed out that it was highly unusual to get approved on the first attempt. I guess that is the best receipt we could have received.

? Hans-Olof Nilsson, Technical expert during the project, Celab

The delivery, which is one of two main shipments in the contract did not really mark the end of anything but it did provide some breathing room. A much needed break before the next big milestone, the 2013 shipment.