Two teams from the Corpus Christi Army Depot, Texas, were recognized during a Sept. 14 ceremony at the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes with Department of the Army Lean Six Sigma Excellence Awards.

The Corpus Christi Army Depot was among eight organizations recognized as the Army's top 2015 implementers of Lean Six Sigma, yielding a cost savings or avoidance of some $1.1 billion. The awards were presented by Under Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy. CCAD received two Lean Six Sigma Awards Project Team Awards.

"Ceremonies like that make me realize that we're part of something much larger than ourselves," said Eric Andreas, who led one of the CCAD teams. "It helps to put things in perspective."
Andreas along with Pamela Janek received the Lean Six Sigma Excellence Award Project Team Award on behalf of the CCAD teams. Andreas led an improvement project on the AH-64 Apache gun turret flange repair process that saved $6.9 million, reduced labor costs by 89 percent and decreased process lead time by 78 percent. Janek, who recently transferred to a new position at Warner Robins, Ga., Air Force Base, led an effort to streamline the product quality deficiency report process, saving $7 million over three years and reducing defects from 57 percent to 10 percent. They were joined by Mark Wagner, the Depot's resource management director; and the Depot's Sgt. Maj. Louis Felicioni.

Although Andreas' leadership was recognized at the ceremony, he said it was a team effort that made the Apache Lean Six Sigma project a success.

"The team members balanced their other work-related commitments to support this project. A dedicated group of people with a singular purpose make great things possible. Any awards or accolades received are on their behalf," he said.

The Lean Six Sigma project led by Andreas was one of several available to his team through CCAD's Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Edward Domingo.

"This project stood out to me because I've always been fascinated by the Apache AH-64 and the fact that the gun turret is very critical to the helicopter's mission," Andreas said. "The Army relies heavily on this aircraft.

"Assembling the right team for this project was important to our success. The data collection and verification included individuals familiar with cost, process and aircraft queue time. We wanted to capture what this repair process entailed."

Currently, repairing an Apache gun turret flange requires removal of several major components to get to the gun's mounts. Andreas' team designed a flange bushing that can be used to bypass the removal of most of those components.

"The flange bushing allows you to return the aircraft to flight at a fraction of the cost and time," Andreas said.

The project included engineering support received from the CCAD/Boeing partnership and the Maintenance Engineering Call process identified by the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center. The flange bushing repair process was determined to be a valid course of action by the engineers at AMRDEC.

"This project took on a life all its own when we began validating the data. The collaboration between the analysts and the partnership was amazing," Andreas said. "The biggest challenge was determining the cost of repairing an AH-64 aircraft for a typical repair and overhaul versus the Maintenance Engineering Call authorized repair we were recommending."

Andreas' team had the full support of CCAD's leadership, although reliance on management was minimal since the data was mostly accessible through the project stakeholders, he said.

"CCAD's leadership fully embraces Lean Six Sigma," Andreas said. "This project is an example of how the organic industrial base is critical to our nation's defense. In an era of uncertainty and shrinking budgets, CCAD needs to be an undisputed value proposition to the warfighter."
While Lean Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology focused on eliminating waste and reducing variation, Andreas said CCAD is taking the concept further by continuing to implement cost effective solutions. He is currently working with Aircraft Production Lean Six Sigma Black Belt John Herzer on the implementation of the Art of the Possible, a model based on the theory of constraints. They hope to use the model on the UH-60 Black Hawk RECAP line to identify Queue, Wait and Movement, and evaluate the buy versus repair process on the helicopter's Station 308 main support beam.

"As a depot, we've incorporated it into one platform for the moment. But with the threat of constraints and the ramping up of maintenance, this is a process we will use more and more," Andreas said. "With all the current fiscal constraints, we have to think of ways to provide the best possible value to the customer. We want to provide the best solution out there at the best value."
Andreas was first hired by Corpus Christi Army Depot as an aircraft electrician in late 2006. He was promoted to equipment specialist in 2010.

"My job is to ensure the artisans have the infrastructure, equipment, tools, and consumables to overhaul helicopters and components," he said. "The most rewarding part of the job is knowing that my efforts support the brave men and women in uniform. The work CCAD performs makes us an essential part of the Army aviation community.

"The work performed at CCAD is a constant reminder that someone's family member is putting themselves in harm's way and needs the very best we can produce."

Andreas' civil service career builds on his nearly nine years of service in the Navy, where he served as an aircraft electrician. Although his two deployments -- with VFA-146 (Strike Fighter Squadron, F/A-18 aircraft) on both the USS Nimitz (Southern Watch, 1998) and the John C. Stennis (Enduring Freedom, 2001) -- took him far from home, his last tour was at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi with the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Detachment.