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Crossing the bridge

A look at Irving Shipbuilding’s supply chain to build Canada’s Navy


June 12, 2015
by Michael Power
Image: Ships Start Here

Image: Ships Start Here

Irving Shipbuilding is central to the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) program in Canada, and David Kemp, Irving Shipbuilding’s vice-president for supply chain, spoke at the SCMA 2015 National Conference about the supply chain transformation taking place at that company. That transformation is in place to build a line of Artic/Offshore patrol ships and new fleet of Canadian Surface Combatant ships.

The NSPS is a complex contract with the Canadian government, Kemp said, highlighting that military shipbuilding comes exclusively from taxpayers’ money. It’s tough to run that business through a traditional model, he noted. Production of the Artic offshore patrol vessels started in early June, he said, and the company has a contract to build six.

The task isn’t easy, he stressed. His department must work to satisfy the customer, manage risk and optimize costs. Two years ago, when he began his position, he began work to get some some supply chain basics in place. That included areas like fixing any festering issues with suppliers which, Kemp noted, tend not to get any easier by putting them off. It’s also necessary to evaluate the team, he said, as well as developing people and planning for growth. He also said that he came up with process areas and process maps to help the journey.

Kemp said that he views the supply chain transformation journey as a bridge. It’s necessary to cross the bridge to get away from strictly tactical buying and strictly administrative function. Rather, it’s important to focus on customer needs.