Fueling resilience

How Defence FMs can drive savings and compliance across assets

Think of the fundamental assets of an air force, naval or army base and you are likely to think of the obvious – fighter jets, vessels, ships, and armoured vehicles. Ask Henry Simpson, Director at Defence FM specialist Adler & Allan, and his response is rather different.

From experience, Henry knows that the critical infrastructure of a military base is made up of the assets that are generally out of sight – the fuel tanks, pipework, valves, and control systems – all essential to ensuring a base fuel system functions in a safe, compliant fashion on a daily basis and is primed for surges in demand.

With much of the defence infrastructure dating back to the Cold War, Henry finds the state of some bases’ fuel infrastructure to be in urgent need of overhaul to bring up to the latest compliance standards.

“What we have found in many cases is that FMs and base operators have forgone Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) in favour of emergency remedial works, believing they’re saving money. An example would be where an FM with a tight budget and increased pressure to deliver value for money may ignore or actually be unaware of a corroded tank lining. The corrosion results in a fuel leak, or allows contaminants to interfere with fuel quality, and the implications of this end up costing the FM much more than a PPM contract with a POL specialist like Adler & Allan.

With over 30 years’ experience in the Defence sector, we’ve gathered enough data to prove that a planned programme of maintenance saves money in the long run as well as ensuring full compliance and the highest levels of safety. We advocate a ‘prepare, protect, and respond’ approach across the UK, dependent territories, and USVF bases we work on, to minimise the likelihood of an incident in the first place, to extend the lifespan of existing assets, and to ensure a plan is in place if the worst case happens.”

Based on his experience in the sector, we asked Henry to share some of his cost and efficiency recommendations for FMs working in Defence:

  • Use a specialist:

Managing POL assets requires a specialist and highly skilled approach, one that a total FM provider is unlikely to have in-house. It’s dangerous and potentially explosive work with staff working in hazardous areas, so you need to employ a special kind of expert, with the necessary experience as well as the relevant security clearances. I would recommend working with a flexible, responsive partner who understands the specific POL challenges a base faces and can offer maintenance and remedial support as well as 24/7 emergency response to give you complete coverage – it will certainly save you money and ensure compliance.

  • Know Your Assets:

Our first activity when we arrive on a new base is always to document and audit the assets. If you don’t know what you are working with and their condition, you will always be open to uncertainty, which is always costly. Once assets have been identified and their state assessed, you can begin to schedule and cost out any remedial works and get a full maintenance plan in place. We suggest using an Asset Management database; we have a system called MARS (maintenance and repair system) that enables you to monitor, plan, and run optimal programs of works across assets. Telemetry can also help give visibility on the state of assets – from silt in interceptors to stock levels in fuel tanks, helping to manage maintenance intervals accurately or optimise fuel delivery times.

  • PPM offers VFM:

The Government is increasingly looking for value for money (VFM) and simply won’t tolerate poor performance from its FMs. We know that reacting to any kind of breakdown is expensive but our experience across the military estate shows that asset management becomes more efficient, there is less downtime, and it is less reactive when Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) is properly implemented. PPM brings significant direct cost savings and reduces the risk of potential fines and loss of service.

  • Take Compliance Seriously:

We are pleased to see increasingly stringent regulations (and their enforcement) on the storage of fuels plus there is more need than ever for contractors to understand the requirements of environmental compliance. The outcomes if they don’t comply are potentially catastrophic, and it’s no longer acceptable to ignore the standards applied to wider industry. Military bases need to comply, adhere to the rules, and do things properly so they’re not held up to account by other agencies. Working with a partner who can take of compliance removes the headache for the FM.

  • Ensuring asset resilience

New technologies are bringing new ways for FMs to think about the lifecycle of the assets they manage. Many of our clients are seeing the benefits of a TOTEX approach to asset management where the lifespan of an asset is extended through the use of new technologies such as cathodic protection or linings to restore integrity. Problems can be identified earlier with PPM, and rectified so it’s no longer necessary to decommission an asset when it breaks down. It’s time to think differently about how we manage assets and look to repair, rather than replace.

Henry Simpson is the Commercial Director of Adler & Allan, a specialist POL management, maintenance, and response company that partners with FMs working in the Defence sector to offer specialist services, expert advice, and 24/7 emergency response.

Adler & Allan is the MOD’s contracted partner for Emergency Pollution Response Services in the UK and worldwide.  It is committed to the Armed Forces Covenant, employs ex-military staff, and supports SSAFA.


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