WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. (April 24, 2013) -- Everyone knew that when Sequestration hit on March 1 that there would be significant cuts within the Department of Defense. And so, when arsenal Commander Col. Mark F. Migaleddi was spotted this month holding a paint roller in the box shop some thought the budget cuts had gone too far.

It turned out that Migaleddi wasn't painting due to furloughs or layoffs. He was in the box shop to lend his hand, as well as his position to a program called Lean.

The arsenal's Lean program continuously assesses what operations are required to support the customer, which in more than 90 percent of the orders is DoD. Once select activities are assessed, they are then measured to see how effective the arsenal is in conducting those activities. Once the assessment is done, the arsenal then eliminates those activities, processes, or functions that do not add value to the customer.

For the arsenal, the tendency might have been to just look at the machining side of the house. But Migaleddi saw that there might be value added by drilling down into non-machining tasks, such as administrative offices and the box shop to improve quality and to reduce lead time by eliminating waste.

Within Lean, there is a program called 6S. The arsenal is actively using 6S to not only improve housekeeping practices, but also to improve processes of off-production line activities. In essence, 6S goes beyond the simple beautification of an office or work area to actually improving work flow and communication.

The arsenal's box shop handles more than 700 line items or product lines shipped every month from Watervliet. Beyond the paint that Migaleddi and others applied to visually improve the box shop, there were also substantial alignment of activities that will greatly improve the workflow … specifically, the arsenal's mortar manufacturing line.

"In addition to making the work area more atheistically pleasing, we also made significant improvements to our mortar work flow by relocating manpower and equipment from another building into the box shop," said Steve Koza, the supervisor of the arsenal's manufacturing support division.

"We can now machine mortar products, such as the barrels for the 60mm, 81mm, and the 120mm mortar systems, and then transport those products to our box shop in a matter of minutes," Koza said.

At a time when the arsenal is manufacturing up to 100 60mm mortar systems a month for Afghanistan, anything the arsenal can do to streamline the process helps to ensure that tight delivery schedules are met, Koza explained.

Other benefits of the 6S project are that Koza now has better oversight of his operations because his workforce will now work in one area versus separate buildings. Additionally, such things as making the work area more ergonomically friendly will improve workers' safety as well as morale.

Oh, how well did the commander do in regards to painting?

When asked that question, Koza simply smiled, winked and said the commander did fine.

The Watervliet Arsenal (pronounced water-vleet") is an Army-owned-and-operated manufacturing facility located in Watervliet, New York. The Arsenal is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States, having begun operations during the War of 1812.

Today's Arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high tech, high powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $100 million.

Page last updated Tue April 23rd, 2013 at 12:48