Tobyhanna Employees Use Lean, Save Minutes, Miles
February 12, 2007
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. - Cutting non-value added steps from the raceway installation process has reduced travel distance and repair time for electricians working on the AN/ASM-189 electronics repair van.
Using Lean initiatives, employees reduced the annual travel distance from 266 miles to 47 miles by placing a new raceway kit, parts package and common toolbox near the worksite, within easy reach of the electricians. Additionally, the amount of time spent working on each van dropped from 22 hours to 6 hours after the wheeled carts were developed. Figures are based on the projected workload of 242 vans for fiscal 2007.
Before, electricians had to search for parts and tools before they began work in the van. Now, there will be three kits, packages and toolboxes stocked with equipment stationed near the worksite.
"Using standard raceway and parts kits will improve our consistency in regards to quality as well as productivity," said Robert Sukel, electrical worker on the AN/ASM-189 van.
Lean is a philosophy and ongoing effort to reduce waste and increase efficiency in all processes by identifying and eliminating activities with little or no value.
"There's a tremendous amount of work being done on these vans and we need to do all we can to streamline processes," said Steve Mikitka, Electrical Recap Support Branch chief, Systems Integration and Support (SIS) Directorate. "The estimated savings produced by implementing these changes will be more than $104,000." Mikitka was the team leader.
The rapid improvement team realized the electrical buildup process was long and complicated. By observing the process, they learned employees were exiting the van in excess of 40 trips per worker while performing tasks.
"The ultimate goal was to standardize the procedure so electricians can perform the work in a similar, precise manner and to cut down Repair Cycle Time allowing assets to move quicker and at a reliable rate," said Jason Menago, electronics engineer, Project and Design and Development Division, Production Engineering Directorate.
Time studies showed electricians walked a mile each day during the buildup process. Menago explained that the preassembled carts helped cut the walk length by 80 percent and the work time by 25 percent.
"Using the kitting process makes my job better because I can concentrate more on production and less on looking for parts," said David Ezzell, electrical worker on the vans.
The wheeled carts will be positioned close to the vans thereby preventing workers from having to move in and out of the vans, and around the dock, to retrieve tools and parts. The raceway kits will contain parts pre-cut to standard sizes. Toolboxes will be loaded with cutters, cordless drills, rotary tools, saws, crimpers and other specialty tools. And, the parts package will contain screws, hardware, receptacles and other items needed to complete the job.
"I was there to observe the whole event and address any employee concerns," said Joseph Lilik, union representative. "The whole team was very impressive. They accomplished a lot of major tasks in a very short period of time."
A plan was also created to educate the work force about standard processes, the worker's role in maintaining implemented changes, and management's responsibility to listen, support and take a proactive approach to Lean sustainment.
Team members remarked that if management and all the other workers who participate in the AN/ASM-189 van electrical buildup process continue to focus their efforts on continuous improvement, then Tobyhanna will set the bar at establishing a Lean culture.
"The Lean process will work, but we [management, shop personnel and process improvement personnel] must be committed to following through and sustaining the improvements and suggestions made during the event," said Darren Ruby, process improvement specialist, Process Engineering Division, Productivity Improvement and Innovation (PII) Directorate.
Members of the rapid improvement event team were Mike Bannon, electrical worker, Electrical Recap Support Branch, SIS; Steve Vislocky, electronics mechanic, Electronics Services Division, SIS; Bill Drozginski, electrician, SIS, and April Garrahan, industrial engineering technician, Process Engineering Division, PII. Garrahan and Ruby were the event facilitators.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.
About 4,400 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the C-E LCMC. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., C-E LCMC's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.