Text: Matti Remes
In September 2014, the FDF and Millog, a Patria subsidiary, agreed to deepen their strategic partnership, with Millog taking a larger responsibility of the FDF’s maintenance functions. This strategic partnership for maintenance was built in two phases. In the first phase, implemented in 2009, Millog assumed responsibility for maintenance functions performed at the Army Depot (2nd level), comprising activities such as servicing and repairing weapon systems and vehicles, including preventive and corrective maintenance. In the second phase, in early 2015, the maintenance work carried out at the Army garrison repair shops (1st level), was also transferred to Millog. This includes corrective maintenance of vehicles and equipment, and performing minor servicing operations. At the same time, all Navy repair and maintenance functions were transferred to Millog.
Much more than just cost savings
Millog’s role in the planning and implementation of maintenance operations was strengthened when the Logistics Command began operating in early 2015 and the roles and responsibilities of the various operators were clarified. The Logistics Command handles the common logistic arrangements for the FDF, securing the material capability for the defense system and ensuring its usability and life cycle support. According to Lieutenant General Raimo Jyväsjärvi, Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics and Armaments, a range of benefits were gained in addition to cost savings when partnership began to deepen. “Instead of being a support function for the FDF, maintenance became part of Millog’s development-oriented core operations. Our cost awareness related to the use and maintenance of equipment improved. We can also provide rapid materiel support to troops on crisis management or other similar operations,” Jyväsjärvi remarks.
Millog has operations in various locations in Finland. The professional at work in Kalkku.
Improved situational awareness
According to Jyväsjärvi, as the partnership further deepens during its second phase, further benefits will be realised, since demanding repair and maintenance functions for defense material are now provided by the single, professional operator. “Millog’s situational awareness enables the FDF to plan the storage, reuse, deployment in training and maintenance of the material in an optimal fashion, taking account of the defense materiel’s life-cycle.” Jyväsjärvi regards the disappearance of the boundary between the maintenance work performed by the FDF and Millog as a positive issue. This will eliminate overlapping tasks, bringing high maintenance capabilities closer to the users of systems. “The number of hours spent on maintenance will increase, improving the preventive dimension of maintenance, which will in turn improve the reliability of defense materiel,” he comments. Jyväsjärvi remarks that the benefits arising from partnership are also relevant in crisis time conditions. “Millog is capable to flexible adjustment of its capacity to match FDF needs, using not only the capacity of its owner companies but also capacity of its suppliers.”
Another option under consideration
Before deciding to expand the partnership with Millog, the FDF carried out a long and thorough assessment of its future maintenance arrangements. According to Jyväsjärvi, an alternative option – the FDF developing its operations by itself – remained as a choice on the table until the very end. “Both alternatives under evaluation were well determined and justified. The issue was ultimately determined by the bottom line – through the assessment of clearly measurable benefits.” According to Jyväsjärvi, such benefits include cost savings, higher productivity, enhanced overall management of maintenance activities and improved management of the defense materiel life-cycle. Once the extended partnership is in place, the FDF will perform only daily maintenance and inspection activities when equipment is in use. Jyväsjärvi points out that there is another side to the coin. The FDF will lose its own capabilities and expertise in the performance of demanding corrective maintenance and repair operations. “This is something that we were aware of from the very beginning. However, we are confident that Millog and its Finnish suppliers will be able to provide us this service – including war time conditions.”
A clear division of responsibilities works in practice
Following the deepening of the strategic partnership between the FDF and Millog, a total of 317 employees as well as various activities at 14 locations were transferred from the FDF to Millog. One of the units transferred to Millog is located in Pansio, Turku and is responsible for maintaining the Navy’s ships and systems. Employees from this unit also work at the Upinniemi garrison. Juha Reivolahti, the head of the Pansio unit, says that changing the operational model required a great deal of work. However, the experiences obtained during the first few months are positive. “The new order-to-delivery process is clear, since the Navy, as our customer, orders services from us. Our operations are now more systematic than before. Work is now specified and scheduled more precisely,” Reivolahti says. Reivolahti points out that equipment maintenance used to be just one of the FDF’s support functions. In contrast, at Millog this is a core operation. “This provides a strong foundation for our operations. For example, we can use the broad expertise of Millog’s other sites whenever necessary.”