By Ms. Jacqueline Boucher (CECOM)May 12, 2016
TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. -- Fed up with fumbling loose-fitting memory cards, Joseph Twardowski started using a small piece of tape to hold the micro-size components in place while he worked. The simple fix to a repetitive problem resulted in sustainable process improvement and better quality of life for his coworkers.
The electronics mechanic said submitting his ideas for evaluation is easier and faster now that Tobyhanna Army Depot has revamped its Army Suggestion Program (ASP).
"Any time I have an idea, I use the program," Twardowski said, noting that two of his ideas have been adopted and two are pending. "I've submitted multiple suggestions during my career hoping to improve morale or help the depot."
Process improvement officials here dusted off the dormant Army program to establish an in-house option for employees interested in developing better ways of doing business. It was mandated that personnel and budgetary resources required to correct programmatic deficiencies should be managed at the local level.
Individual organizations were authorized to develop grassroots programs in light of the service-wide suspension, according to Danielle Weinschenk, a management assistant in the Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) Directorate. Her goal was to revive the depot's program during a 120-day assignment as its administrator. Amanda Spock, CPI management analyst, assumed the responsibilities of ASP administrator a few weeks ago.
During its glory days, Tobyhanna's ASP boasted hundreds of suggestions per year. The process was convoluted and time consuming. Some suggestions took years to resolve.
"We've made some dramatic changes to expedite the processing of suggestions," Weinschenk said. "The biggest improvement is communication between the individual who submitted the idea and the team tasked with evaluating the suggestion."
Participants meet frequently to share ideas, ask questions and clarify points. Weinschenk emphasized that it's important for people to fully flesh out their ideas prior to submitting them.
"Our focus will be on more tangible suggestions that save money or make the depot more competitive," she said, adding that submissions that don't meet the criteria will be routed to the appropriate organization for action. "For instance Installation Services would be better equipped to deal with someone's idea to install pocket doors around the depot."
Electronics Mechanic Shannon Kuhn said it's rewarding knowing his idea for removing a coating from the Simple Key Loader shaved time off the repair and reclamation process. He works in the C4ISR Directorate's C4 Division. Kuhn recommends employees act on their ideas by doing their homework and submitting the proper paperwork.
"I'm trying to eliminate a step in a process," said Christopher Valenza, sheet metal mechanic in the Systems Integration and Support Directorate, while waiting to hear if another of his suggestions has been adopted. "My documentation illustrates how a simple cleaning process can be accomplished with fewer shops and employees."
Monetary awards are based on the value of the suggestion.
"If you have an idea, submit it. Someone else with the same idea could beat you to the punch," Twardowski said. "Do the research and take a chance."
Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna's Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C4ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.
Tobyhanna's unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our Joint Warfighters.
About 3,100 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 Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 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.