35 young maintenance professionals obtain WCM Summer School certificate with marine case

On Friday 4 August, 35 young maintenance professionals obtained the certificate for Smart Maintenance & Engineering Management. In the previous week, the students had attended classes by a range of professors from seven Dutch universities in the area of smart maintenance. The students were immediately able to apply this theoretical knowledge to the practical case contributed by the Directorate of Material Sustainment (DMI) of the Royal Netherlands Navy: maintenance of the new M-series of frigates.

The group of young professionals was composed of participants from Alliander, MaxGrip, the Ministry of Defence, NS Techniek, Schiphol Group, Shell, Sitech Services, SPIE, Stork, Strukton Rail, Tata Steel, Thales, the University of Tilburg, the University of Pisa, the University of Twente and Utilities Support Group.

New programme

This was the sixth edition of the WCM summer school, with a brand new programme. Based on the insight from the report on the study ‘Smart Moves for Smart Maintenance’, subjects such as big data, human factors, performance-based contracting and life-cycle costing were added. Maintenance Management & Engineering remains the main subject.

Practical case: maintenance of M-frigates

The Royal Netherlands Navy has a considerable fleet of very complex vessels (including frigates, patrol boats, submarines and diving craft), which is managed and maintained all over the world. The students of the WCM Summer School got the unique opportunity to spend a whole week working on the new series of M-frigates. These multipurpose vessels are primarily used for anti-submarine defence. Helicopters can land on them and they are equipped with ultra-modern sensor, weapon and command systems. The main assignment and challenge for the students was to think about how DMI could optimise the maintenance of vessels by introducing maintenance innovations such as predictive maintenance, life-cycle management, and design for maintenance.

Arnold Boomstra, head of sensors and weapon technology, showed what the groups had to bear in mind in the future for the maintenance of marine vessels: “We are caught in the middle of a technology shift in which we as the Navy are leading the way. We also manage a state-of-the-art fleet. It is a challenge to find qualified people for maintenance. We also want to use our equipment more flexibly and in the future we would like to work more closely with the private sector”.

Modular frigates

The group presented their findings on Friday 4 August during an info market. The public in attendance chose the winner, the group composed of Francesco Castaldi Cuppari (University of Pisa), Bas Pelssers (SPIE), Sander Cords (Tata Steel) and Arjan van der Palen (Schiphol Group). The winning group came up with a new name for the multi-purpose frigates, namely the ‘modular frigates’. In their design, all on-board equipment is set up modularly making both the vessel’s operation and its maintenance flexible. With condition-based maintenance and augmented reality, each module would then itself need to be able to show if, when and what maintenance is needed. The winning group says: “The concept is bold, but if you want to be future-ready, this is the direction the Navy needs to go in”.


Other groups also came up with original ideas for more efficient maintenance of complex vessels: from organisational ideas, such as merging together the DMI and DMO (Defence Material Organisation) and the set-up of a virtual warehouse, all the way to technical ideas such as the use of hydrogen at room temperature (as a result of which cooling installations are no longer needed on-board) and even campaign ideas to increase the capacity of qualified staff. “It is buzzing here. It is impressive that the input we gave resulted in this output of such practical and refreshing ideas”, says Pieter van Noort, head of the Maritime Technology Department of DMI. “The power of this type of initiative is that people are working on common challenges, from the point-of-view of multiple disciplines”.


Rob Kramer, deputy commander and present at the presentations: “It is unbelievably positive to see that there are so many young people who can teach us something. Their ideas and spot-on solutions are of course interesting, but much more interesting is the fact that they keep asking us ‘why?’”. Kramer provides an example: “In our case, a vessel has a five-year cycle. This means that it is used for four years and then goes in for maintenance for one year. “Can maintenance not be done in much less time than a year?” is therefore a very valid question. We were also made to take a look at the marketing of defence activities. This is also something we are going to concentrate on because working with the private sector is a prime focus of ours for the future. This will contribute to greater command out at sea, which is what we are doing it for”.

About the WCM Summer School

This was the sixth edition of the WCM summer school, and this year it took place for the first time at the KIM, the Royal Naval College. In one week, young maintenance professionals get the chance to expand their knowledge and experience in the area of Maintenance Management & Engineering. Alongside the case for which students compete, professors from all Dutch universities that count maintenance among their subjects (Delft University of Technology, University of Twente, Eindhoven University of Technology, University of Groningen, NLDA, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Tilburg University) give a masterclass. The WCM Summer School is planned again for 2018.

Please click here to find pictures of the week. 

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