Missile branch improves efficiency, competes for Shingo
July 2, 2010
- The Maverick Missile Branch will submit an achievement report to compete for a Shingo prize this October.
- The branch improved its efficiency by adopting Lean techniques beginning in May 2008.
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, PA. - The Maverick Missile Branch will submit an achievement report to compete for a Shingo prize this October.
Lean techniques and equipment upgrades have lowered the branch's repair cycle time (RCT), according to Branch Chief Steven Janiga.The branch is part of the Command, Control, Computers/Avionics Directorate's Tactical Missile Division. Branch technicians test and repair the Maverick's guidance and control systems (GCS).
"The basic operation of the shop hasn't changed," Janiga said. "We repair infrared, laser and television GCSs."
The branch improved its efficiency by adopting Lean techniques beginning in May 2008.
Employees conducted a Value Stream Analysis (VSA) in May that year and implemented changes to reduce their flow time by 20 percent and travel time by 10 percent," said Ramona Kost, process improvement specialist, Product Improvement and Innovation Directorate.
Changes included relocating circuit cards that are in process to a centralized location, and relocating the leak purge and fill station, and the new balance station.
"They also reduced Data Collection Reporting System logins for the TV GCSs and the IR GCSs from seven to four steps, respectively," said Sharon Kippycash, lead process improvement specialist.
Shadowed tool boxes are being installed to organize and quickly identify tools, along with visual aids such as overhead signs and Andon lights (which tells a technician the repair status of a GCS).
Another VSA was held in February to reduce flow time and repair cycle time.
"Branch employees adopted the Best Business Practice of using an automated label program, established a weekly shipping schedule with the Defense Logistics Agency and identified a need for the parts person position to be re-established in Maverick Missile Branch," Kippycash said.
"We also developed action plans, sustainment audits, story boards and worker education classes," Janiga said. "New equipment has also brought down costs."
For example, with prior equipment, it took up to six hours to mechanically balance an infrared seeker head. The new $1.4 million Friction Balance Test Station reduced that to about 1.5 hours, reducing the RCT by up to four hours.
"The missile experiences 20 or more Gs of force when fired; if the head isn't balanced to within a hundredth of a gram, it will slam to one side and lose the target," Janiga said. "We have the old system as a backup, but we haven't had any problems with the new one in the two years we've had it."
Three IR GCS Test Stations troubleshoot the circuit cards in the AGM-65 Maverick GCS. However, the computer operating system was old and began having reliability problems, lengthening the time to troubleshoot and repair the GCS.
"We upgraded the computer systems to a Windows-based XP operating system and installed new software, printers, monitors and keyboards," Janiga said. "Not only is the system faster, it has been flawlessly reliable; it hasn't broken down in two years."
Janiga noted that the RCT improvement for this cannot be measured, but that the improved reliability means customers do not have to wait for repaired GCSs due to a malfunctioning test station.
The television GCS version was tested using 'chart recorders,' which tested a missile's ability to stay on target, recording how the missile reacts in simulated flight. Janiga said that system, too, was beginning to malfunction often and was replaced by a Data Acquisition Workstation.
"That eliminated moving parts and even the ink used to record test results, cutting the test time from 29 hours to 26 hours, reducing the RCT for that GCS by about ten percent," Janiga said.
A new automatic test system was installed to replace an aging Digital Card Test Station (DCTS) that was used in the IR GCS repair process.
"The Air Force tried for a long time to get the DCTS to work reliably," he said. "They finally gave up and Tobyhanna offered a solution."
The solution was a new test station, with the test programs written by depot personnel for testing IR GCS circuit cards; a secondary repair program was started to repair CCAs down to the component level.
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 the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.
About 5,600 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.
Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command. Headquartered at Fort Monmouth, N.J., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.