Fleet News

International fleet focus: Army wins the battle over costs

WHILE international attention is focused on Iraq, few people realise the extent of other British Army commitments abroad.

One of the biggest is the British Army Training Unit in Cyprus – one of the only places large enough for the British Army to safely train a full armoured brigade, using all of its weapons.

The bases in Cyprus cover 98 square miles and enable the UK to maintain a permanent military presence at a strategic point in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Britain has a lengthy association with Cyprus, stemming from the British occupation in 1878 and later when it became a British Crown Colony in 1925. It also includes the historic legacy of World War II, when Greek Cypriots fought with British soldiers.

It was not until 1960 that British, Greek and Turkish governments signed a Treaty of Guarantee to provide for an independent Cypriot state in the Commonwealth but, shortly after, a civil war split the country in two with a Turkish-controlled north and Greek south, where the British Army is based.

Cyprus is now home to an 800-strong fleet of vehicles. The fleet is split on a 60/40 basis – 60% classed as ‘green fleet’, which are military vehicles such as adapted Land Rovers and high mobility load carriers, with the remaining 40% ‘white fleet’ civilian cars and vans.

The international fleet, part leased through Lex Defence and part outright purchased, is managed from the island.

A transport unit issues trucks for use. There are three workshop areas and a headquarters which oversees the day-to-day management of the fleet.

Major Dean Hale, D SC Ops (Transport), is part of the team which manages a portfolio of products on behalf of the Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO), including battle tanks and armoured vehicles. He believes the fleet is similar in principle to traditional UK company car fleets and said: ‘The British Forces fleet is similar to other company car fleets in that it is all cost driven.’

Just over three years ago, the British Forces introduced a new fleet management system in a bid to streamline costs.

This has had a profound effect on the way the fleet is run and enabled the Forces to save hundreds of thousands of pounds since it was introduced in 2001.

Hale said: ‘Using the management system we have been able to look at the ratio split between green fleet vehicles, which are traditionally high cost, and the white fleet, which is cheaper to maintain. This means we can look at whether a green fleet Land Rover is really needed or whether a white fleet 4x4 could be used instead.

‘The benefit of introducing a management system is linked to cost. We can now see how vehicles are used. Mileage can be calculated and we can even compare the terrain the vehicles are used on.’

The group has also improved the management of its servicing intervals as a result of introducing the new technology.

‘The military has a strict regime of servicing and with the system we are now able to forecast when maintenance is due,’ Hale said.

By using technology it relies even less on outside help. The system used is the Tranman Series 9 package from RAC Software Solutions which enables the British Forces Cyprus fleet to manage everything, from licence checking to vehicle availability.

The fleet now rarely relies on support from the UK with the group working autonomously for most weeks of the year. Major Rick Jones, D SC Ops (Transport), explained: ‘The Tranman implementation was a win-win situation for the DLO and British Forces Cyprus.

‘Tranman Series 9 is being used extremely effectively to support the single transport fleet concept and is proving to be a flexible, adaptable and comprehensive application, operating overseas with minimum support from the UK, currently estimated at seven man days a year.’

Project DARTS (Defence Automated Road Transport System) is responsible for ensuring the management system runs smoothly and that the fleet benefits from reduced costs and overheads.

British Forces Cyprus can now clearly view all its vehicles and assets. They use the data collected to make procurement decisions and to specifically track ‘cost against activity’ key performance indicators (KPIs).

Jones said: ‘The transport managers can enhance their effectiveness, draw more usage out of pool assets and reduce overheads essential in today’s environment that demonstrates truly effective management of on-island materials and resources.

‘The users are enthusiastic, committed and proud of their new system. They are producing real-time benefits daily, not only for the island but for their higher command and the wider MoD.’

Since the success in Cyprus the British Armed Forces has rolled the Tranman software out to BATUS (British Army Training Unit, Suffield) in Canada, The Falkland Isles, Ascension Islands and Gibraltar.

All of these sites have been implemented as a partnership between the DARTS team and RAC Software’s own staff.

The software is also used by the British Armed forces in the UK and Germany, in some cases providing the Management Information System to support the MoD’s Whole Fleet Management initiative, which aims to improve the management and control of 60,000 fighting and support assets.

Jones added: ‘Critical to the requirement is knowing where assets are located, who they are assigned to and their status of availability. These basic requirements will be overtime to give our Armed Forces global visibility of all assets, their utilisation and cost.’

Fact file

  • 1878: British occupation of Cyprus. The British took over the administration of the island, while agreeing to help Turkey against future attacks from Russia
  • 1914: Cyprus is annexed by Britain
  • 1925: Cyprus becomes a British Crown Colony
  • 1939: Greek Cypriots fight alongside the Allies in World War II
  • 1960: Cyprus becomes independent
  • 1963-73: Civil war splits Cyprus into Turkish and Greek sectors
  • May 1, 2004: Cyprus joins the EU as a divided island
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