Depot Quick Win Won't Put a Damper on DoD Budget
August 29, 2011
By Brigitte Rox
A Lean Six Sigma project is slashing prices on UH-60s by over $500,000 thanks to a new tooling aide that has revolutionized the way the Corpus Christi Army Depot repairs damper brackets.
When a Black Hawk comes in with crash damage or in need of an overhaul or reset, depot artisans examine damper brackets for signs of wear, damage and corrosion.
"Damper brackets are part of the rotor head build-up," explains Ken Raymond, an analytical technologist for Sikorsky Aerospace Services. There are four damper brackets on each Black Hawk rotor head.
This integral component to the main rotor hub has two especially delicate parts--the bushings. Their specifications must be right on the money else the whole part gets scrapped. Aviation Intermediate Maintenance (AVIM) rejects three of every four damper brackets that go through their area.
"This is a safety of flight critical part," said Mary Cowan, analytical technologist for Sikorsky. "When it comes to flying, you have to make sure there are no cracks in the actual damper. When [machinists] remove the bushings, Non-Destructive Inspection (NDI) needs to review and look at it closely to make sure there are no cracks on the damper."
When a part gets scrapped, CCAD usually buys new dampers for thousands of dollars apiece, however the depot was in trouble when their source dried up earlier this year.
Jerry Comstock, a Pre-Shop Analysis Branch Chief, sought a solution. He partnered with Sikorsky and several CCADers who were invested in the issue.
"Sikorsky is here trying to help CCAD see what cost avoidance they could save," Cowan said.
With the Department of Defense looking for ways to save money, CCAD has been taking aggressive measures to reduce costs. The Quick Win in the damper bracket assembly line could mean a big win for the depot in cost avoidance.
Comstock knew that a project to repair the part would save the depot thousands of dollars. "It's cheaper to repair than to buy," he said.
"No one knew that it could be repaired," Mary Cowan said. "It was always being bought new."
Cowan was up to her teeth with data, drawings and manuals on bushings and dampers looking for a fix.
"We reviewed the possibility to replace the bushing and the material requirements for the repair," she said.
Ken Raymond engineered a tool aide that would help line machinists replace the bushings.
"Essentially, the bushing is a spacer that goes in between the ears of the damper assembly. When [the machinist] goes to apply pressure to remove the bushings, [the tooling aide] protects the part, itself, so it doesn't fracture or crack," Raymond explained.
With the help of the Process Support Division, the team created a traveler that would include steps for repairing the damper by removing the bushings and adding a step to send the part to NDI.
"The bushing repair has reduced the amount of rejects when bushing is worn out, gouged, damaged, or corroded from three aircraft to none," she said.
The cost savings of this project are overwhelming. It takes less than five and a half hours to inspect and repair the entire damper bracket at minimal labor costs while material costs are nothing more than the price of lunch at a restaurant.
In total, the project saved CCAD $556,899 for 31 aircraft for the 2011 fiscal year.
"We anticipate larger savings for FY12 in excess of $600K," said Comstock. There are 49 Black Hawks projected for recapitalization for FY12 already.