The Defence Materiel Division of the Dutch Ministry of Defence, a RHEA Group client, has opened its own dedicated concurrent design facility, following 3 years of successfully applying the methodology to a broad range of projects, led by the RHEA team. The facility’s design was inspired by the one used by the European Space Agency, which recently announced it is now using RHEA’s COMET™ software for all concurrent design studies.

RHEA supports Dutch MoD to open dedicated concurrent design facility

The Defence Materiel Division (DMO) of the Dutch Ministry of Defence (MoD) has opened a dedicated concurrent design facility at Soesterberg in The Netherlands, supported by RHEA Group. RHEA’s experts contributed to the realisation of the new facility, having worked with the DMO since 2019 to apply the concurrent design methodology to major projects, including the specification of new naval vessels.

Massimo Bandecchi at the opening of the Dutch MoD new concurrent design facility
Massimo Bandecchi, former Head of the Concurrent Design Facility at the European Space Agency, shared his experience of the value of concurrent design at the Agency.

Each concurrent design study requires input from a variety of stakeholders involved in the procurement of military material and IT. The location for the new Concurrent Design Facility is between Amersfoort and Utrecht at the heart of The Netherlands, which will optimize its use by participants in these projects, as they may be based in military headquarters distributed across the country.

The new facility, hosted by the DMO’s partner, the research organization TNO, is based on the blueprint of the one used by the European Space Agency (ESA) at Noordwijk in The Netherlands, where the DMO first learned about the benefits of concurrent design and the required building blocks. “It was there and then that we were inspired to put concurrent design to the test at the DMO,” explained Rajko Brokken, Change Manager at the DMO. “The projected results were so promising that we simply could not ignore them.”

Since the concurrent design programme started at the Dutch MoD, the DMO has achieved nearly the same beneficial results as ESA in terms of the acceleration and efficiency of running projects. Having applied concurrent design to nearly 25 projects, DMO has found that the speed of completing each study has accelerated by a factor of three on average, while using just half the manpower previously required.

“ESA has been able to accelerate its projects by a factor of four using half the manpower – a benchmark that we at the DMO have set ourselves as an eventual target,” said Rajko Brokken.

Sam Gerené, RHEA Group’s Competence Area Lead for Concurrent Design and MBSE, observed: “ESA has been using concurrent design for over 20 years, with a modernized facility and very experienced, trained staff. Now, with the opening of an up-to-date, dedicated facility, the continuation of an intensive training programme and the use of an integrative data model, the DMO is very likely to improve its execution of concurrent design studies even further. Our concurrent design experts will continue to support the DMO team, so who knows – the DMO might be on track to outperform its role model in future.”

ESA formally adopts RHEA’s COMET for concurrent design

In the week before the Dutch facility opening, ESA announced its adoption of RHEA’s COMET software tool for use at its Concurrent Design Facility at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) at Noordwijk in the Netherlands. The transition from its previous in-house solution began last summer and was completed earlier in 2022.

“We are proud that our Concurrent Model-based Engineering Tool COMET is now the software of choice for ESA in concurrent design and model-based system engineering (MBSE),” said Sam Gerené. “ESA is a pioneer in the use of concurrent design and MBSE for a wide range of projects and we have worked closely with the team there for many years. We have developed COMET in line with both ESA’s and other clients’ needs, and look forward to continuing our collaboration in future.”

In its article describing the move – COMET upgrade for ESA’s mission design centre – Ilaria Roma, who heads the ESA Concurrent Design Facility, explained: “This new software provides a much better-performing and more contemporary user interface experience, and adds a new dimension to report generation, including mass and power budgets for the missions being designed.”