COMSEC Division earns Shingo visit
March 16, 2012
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -- Improved efficiency in a Communications Directorate division has earned the employees there a Shingo Prize evaluation.
Shingo evaluators are scheduled to visit Tobyhanna this spring to determine if process improvements in the Communications Security Division (COMSEC) warrant the international-level recognition a Shingo prize garners. The prize recognizes world-class organizations for creating a culture of continuous improvement through employee-empowerment and effective leadership. This will be the seventh visit by Shingo evaluators, or examiners.
The examiners, from public and private organizations, emphasize a complete assessment of the organization's culture. They focus on determining the degree to which the principles of operational excellence are evident in the behavior of every employee.
COMSEC's mission is to receive, store, maintain accountability, and issue COMSEC and Information Security equipment and materiel. About 160 employees in seven branches perform depot level maintenance of secure communications, and information equipment and sub-assemblies, and secure demilitarization and disposal capabilities. The COMSEC Division, which comprises 154,980 square feet of shop space, also performs wholesale and retail logistics management efforts for the COMSEC enterprise.
"We began to apply Lean concepts to the COMSEC enterprise in 2004 to create a balanced, streamlined work process, and increase our value and exceptional support to the warfighter," said David Riley, chief of COMSEC's Secure Communications Branch.
Personnel learn about Lean in a variety ways. For instance, new employees to the depot are introduced to Lean principles during a week-long, mandatory orientation process. Productivity and performance are evaluated monthly through a balanced scorecard process and annually in performance appraisal reviews.
"We conducted our first Value Stream Analysis (VSA) on the COMSEC Receiving/Assets Verification," Riley said. "This event improved the process by reducing non-value added steps by 39 percent, manual cycle time by 42 percent, and process flow time by 79 percent."
Highlights of process improvements include:
In April 2008, a VSA was conducted on the repair process for the AN/CYZ-10 Data Transfer Device. As a result of this VSA, process flow time was reduced by 4 percent and manual cycle time was reduced by 16 percent for an FY08 cost savings of $44,434. Riley noted that his branch conducted a VSA in June 2008 that reduced the component cleaning process cycle time by 47 percent.
In August 2008, a Rapid Improvement Event conducted in the Receiving and Storage Branch reduced travel distance by 73 percent and reduced manual cycle time by 35 percent.
"We accelerated our Lean efforts in November 2008 and conducted an enterprise level VSA of the COMSEC mission," said Doreen Scott, Secure Telecommunications Branch. "Continuous process improvement implementations include visual management tools like Andon lights and production control boards, point of use parts, standardized tool sets, which decreased our tool storage space by 80 percent, and Work Cells established in the Secure Communications Branch."
In January, COMSEC conducted a second pass VSA to look for more ways to decrease costs and pass that value on to the warfighter.
Reductions achieved from implementing Lean methods in COMSEC have resulted in an average savings of 32 percent in fiscal 2011, and an overall average savings of 31.5 percent since fiscal 2008.
"This savings, coupled with decreased repair cycle times, directly results in warfighters receiving critical COMSEC systems quicker at a reduced cost," Riley said.
"COMSEC technicians are self-certified on the systems they work and perform internal lot sampling according to the American National Standards Institute Standard for Inspections by Attributes," Scott said. "Our quality performance is above the target rate of 98 percent. During fiscal 2011, we averaged a Quality Rating of 99.95 percent."
Tobyhanna earned a Shingo Bronze award for the AN/TPS-75 Air Defense Radar System in 2006, a Gold Medallion for the AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder Radar Antenna Transceiver Group in 2007, Bronze Medallions for the AN/TYQ-23 Tactical Air Operations Module and the AN/ASM-189 Electronic Shop Van in 2008, a Bronze Medallion for the Sidewinder Guidance and Control System in 2010, and a Silver Medallion for the AN/MST-T1 (V) Miniature Multiple Threat Emitter System in 2011.
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. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., 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.