Tobyhanna employees attend first CPIM program
October 24, 2007
Fifteen Tobyhanna employees took part in the first Association for Operations Management training course which was an accelerated nine-month study program.
The members of the Master Production Scheduling (MPS) team participated in the Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) program as part of a continuing process to educate front-line employees on the "how's and whys" of the Web-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
The ERP is a framework for organizing, defining and standardizing business processes. It's a one-stop-shop concept that replaces hours of research and information verification with accurate, real-time data.
"The course teaches people how to run a business using best business practices by means of an ERP system," said Jim Antonelli, assistant program officer, Logistic Modernization Program (LMP)/MPS office. "It's more of an education than training," he said, explaining that students learned the whys behind the system, how the system operates in the background as well as the benefits of the system.
The CPIM program is internationally recognized as the standard for individual assessment in the field of production and inventory management. It incorporates a business process orientation rather than individual techniques. The individual modules are integrated and follow a progression of increased understanding.
Jack Merkel said he will use the information learned to influence decisions that are being made related to the MPS project being implemented on the depot. Merkel is an electronics engineer on the MPS prototype team.
"It was a challenging course, but I'd definitely recommend it to others," he said.
Over the span of various presentations and discussions, the phrase echoed by class participants was "we can do this," according to Jim Ciliberti, CPIM instructor, Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Association for Operations Management. Course work included meeting once a week in the classroom and up to 20 hours of self study.
"I've been conducting this training for over 18 years and this has been a most rewarding experience," Ciliberti said. "The students came to class prepared and eager to learn. They soon realized that the education and learning does not stop here, and everyone agreed that CPIM training is part of life-long learning.
"I know that as Tobyhanna continues its quest to be the best it can be, these 15 men and women will be critical to the success of the facility," he said.
Officials here are using an ERP system to link the depot's business practices so that users can share information with the click of a mouse.
"This program [CPIM] is important for Tobyhanna in that it provides industry standard, best practice techniques and information that will help us to better understand where we are going and what we are trying to achieve with the implementation of master production scheduling," said Dennis Foster, deputy director, Production Management Directorate. "Understanding the 'what's and whys' of ERP and Material Requirements Planning (MRP) will make us better at managing our programs and achieving more reliable delivery schedules in the Logistic Modernization Program," he said.
"The implementation of MPS is the single most important operational change we [the depot] have ever made," said Foster. "For it to be as effective as it can be, we need to provide our entire work force the best education possible. That is what we are trying to do with this certification program." The LMP multi-year transformation was begun in December 1999 to modernize logistics and the supporting information technology to meet current and future military readiness requirements.
Since introducing the system in 2003, LMP team members have overcome obstacles such as trying to alter the ERP to fit existing business processes before realizing that change was necessary for the depot to get the most out of the complex system.
"Education is just another step in reinforcing the new philosophy," Antonelli said. "CPIM is a big part of getting through the cultural change that comes from redoing the way we do business."
Gary Roberts understands that it's difficult for people to step away from their comfort zone, but explained that the net result of change is worth the risk. Roberts is a production controller on the MPS team.
"It's not a matter of improving one facet of a business, but rather improving the entire business process," he said. "As more and more employees embrace CPIM, the clearer our collective understanding of ultimate customer satisfaction, quality and best business practices becomes.
"Our customers, the warfighter, should get what they need, when they need it, at the price they expect to pay," he said. "And Tobyhanna should be able to deliver that product more efficiently and safely."
There are 50 participants scheduled to attend the next CPIM course in January. The course will contain the same five study modules, but has been extended to 11 months.
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 5,100 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 Communications-Electronics 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.