MBDA, Cranfield and Rolls team up on Tempest supply chain

MBDA has announced a new partnership with Cranfield University to validate supply chain maturity for the Team Tempest future combat aircraft.

BAE Systems

Supported by Rolls Royce, the aim of the project is to develop a new digital toolset that will provide better visibility and granularity on the state of readiness of a supply chain across the Tempest programme lifecycle. According to the partners, this will allow earlier identification of potential issues and mitigate supply chain risks.

“To enable advanced engineering systems and complex programmes to be developed successfully, there must be a viable means of delivery including a fit for purpose supply chain design,” said Professor Aris Matopoulos, from Cranfield’s Centre for Logistics, Procurement and Supply Chain Management.

“The proposed solution builds on the idea that the supply chain cannot be an afterthought in future defence programmes. Developing the product (i.e. technology) and the process (i.e. manufacturing) needs to go hand in hand with the supply chain.”

The initial study will be carried out over a six-month period. The partners say the digital toolset will be agnostic and therefore could be used for a range of different defence equipment programmes in the future. It will use Supply Chain Readiness Levels that mirror the Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) already widely applied across industry.

"The right level of supply chain maturity is key for the industrial partners in Team Tempest," said Mark Harrison, senior procurement executive at MBDA. 

"Research by Rolls-Royce identified that Cranfield University was working on assessing Supply Chain Readiness in the commercial sector, similar to the way we currently assess Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) and Manufacturing Readiness Levels (MRL). So we agreed a contract where the idea of Supply Chain Readiness Levels could be developed and made suitable and appropriate for application in a defence procurement supply chain environment.”

Rolls-Royce supply chain executive, Dr Paul Hacker, added: “Any successful new product development requires the concurrent design of the product, the manufacturing process as well as the supply chain. Currently, we lack sufficient detail and metrics for the state of readiness of a supply chain. With the support of Cranfield University’s research – which Rolls-Royce are pleased to have identified – we aim to fill this information gap and universally apply findings to programmes in any industrial sector.”