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Babcock: £30m and 1,000 man hours per year saved with ACQUIRE™ barcoding solution.

Babcock: £30m and 1,000 man hours per year saved with ACQUIRE™ barcoding solution.">

Babcock is the UK’s leading engineering support service organisation with revenue of approximately £3 billion in 2010. Their marine base in Rosyth, Scotland has a long and successful involvement with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) working on the Surface Ship Support projects maintaining and refitting Royal Navy Vessels. Babcock Marine has become a key member in the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) to build two Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy.

“The Cooper Software team engaged immediately with the business to expedite the project. Their innovative thinking helped engage the users and a very clever, innovative yet simple-to-use solution was found to solve what could potentially be a very big problem. Another major success was the agile way in which Cooper Software delivered, ensuring we were involved in the whole process and changes could be made easily and early – which helped prevent any overrun.”

QEC Project Delivery Manager

Project Background

At the Rosyth base, Babcock Marine plays an integral part in the manufacture, build and assembly of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers – the largest single engineering project in the UK. Given the vast scale of the super carriers, Babcock will handle a significant amount of material and parts – estimated to be worth in excess of £200m – and manage the process during the build and assembly phase. Babcock Marine needed a way to ensure visibility of equipment at all times across the entire 200+ acre site and, given their historic failure rates, more than £30m worth of equipment was at risk if a robust solution wasn’t found. Additionally, an ACA regulatory mandate meant every piece of equipment and component must be tracked at all times, from point of issue to final installation location. Babcock uses the IFS ERP system for the management of assets, resources and components for the QEC project as well as other businesses on-site. The IFS system underpins the ability to manage the information successfully, but with the size, scale and complexity of the physical build operations there needed to be additional solutions put in place.

Our Solution

Cooper Software, Europe’s largest independent provider of products, consulting and support for IFS users, engaged with Babcock to provide full-time experienced IFS development staff to deliver several key projects. Cooper Software not only provided an Equipment Tracking and Inventory Management mobile barcoding solution, but was also involved with assisting in setting up the Radio Frequency (RF) network. This included a supporting application to the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

The engagement model consisted of a team of consultants and developers working on Babcock’s ‘list X’ site in Rosyth for four months. Cooper Software worked with the business process owners, IT and IFS to create an in-depth understanding of the current processes in place. Working with Babcock’s IT/IM infrastructure team, Cooper Software was able to also provide a single-source solution for infrastructure and hardware including site survey, install, test and commission of the access points and associated mobile devices.

Using ACQUIRE™, Cooper Software’s data capture solution for IFS, and a number of bespoke features, Cooper Software delivered the necessary Equipment Tracking and Inventory Management capability. These transactions included the arrival of a purchase order, moving stock to inventory, changing part location and issuing parts to IFS Shop Orders. The solution is used by 30 users issuing and tracking 225 items per day with this volume likely to rise as the Aircraft Carrier build progresses.

There were also two core transactions within the barcode solution that provided an offline feature when operators were outside RF signal, for example on the inner compartments on the aircraft carrier. This allows operators to move equipment to a destination anywhere across the entire 200-acre site without the need for RF network coverage. Security was a major factor in the solution, hence the details of the movements are encrypted on the mobile device. Data is then decrypted at the server side for processing into IFS.

After the delivery phase of the project, Cooper Software worked with Babcock IT/IM and provided a handover to their IT department and the solution is now fully supported by the on-site IT team.


• Saved up to £30m in untracked inventory.

• Estimated labour savings of nearly 1,000 man hours per year through the automation of transaction processing in the inventory stores and warehouses.

• Removed manual paper-based processes using RF handhelds, allowing real-time update of data.

• Eliminated data errors and the need for any rework using barcodes and other flexible data fields for data entry.

• Increased productivity of stores personnel by reducing the time required to update the IFS system.

• Improved the cycle count process by using barcode technology to minimise the effort required to update the IFS system.

• Provided solid data for improved utilization of KPIs enabling the business to report on performance, stock holding and age analysis.

• Increased visibility of stock and improved stock accuracy, eliminating losses and ensuring accountability.