By Mrs. Jennifer Bacchus (AMC)October 31, 2019
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- In fiscal year 2017, Anniston Army Depot's Component Machining Branch had 1,176.9 direct labor hours of rework. The next year, that number dropped to 14 hours.
Joe Lackey, the chief of ANAD's Manufacturing Division, attributes the change to several things, principle among them being accountability.
"We pushed ownership," said Lackey. "These parts are very important. They could affect someone's life, so we have to do it right."
Lackey said the Manufacturing Division as a whole has had substantial workload for the last few years, so rework cost the organization heavily in time.
The machinists began by instituting first piece inspections. These inspections were documented and verified by Quality inspectors.
They then built checks into each production run to verify that the parts created during the run were the same as the first piece.
The Manufacturing Division also gained a new Quality inspector during that time, one who had been a machinist and, therefore, could explain to employees what went wrong when a part failed inspection and how to correct it for the future.
"He keeps them on their toes," Lackey said of Chris Blackburn, the new inspector.
New technology also improved the quality in the shop and reduced rework.
A new coordinate measurement machine was purchased and put into use as an additional inspection station.
"We started to utilize it more to check our parts," said Lackey.
The documentation and inspections held each employee accountable for the work they performed and helped the shop as a whole feel more empowered to impact the quality of their products.
"They bought into quality and are fully engaged," said Lackey. "They are diligent about pushing quality now."
While these changes were underway in the machine shop, the Reciprocating Drive Train Division was also seeing improvements. Two cost centers there, the Dynamometer Branch and Engine/Automotive Machining Branch saw a significant reduction in their rework hours.
From FY17 to FY18, the Dynamometer Branch reduced its rework from 1,739 hours to 387.
Between FY18 and FY19, the Engine/Automotive Machining Branch's rework hours shrank from 972.6 to 320.4.
Supervisors in both areas credit employees being accountable for the work they perform.
"Accountability is key," said Phillip Roden, supervisor for the Engine/Automotive Machining Branch. "Getting employees to buy in and be accountable for their work and have pride in their work."
Changes began in FY17 with Lean events.
During the first event, employees learned not all parts were being routed to the machine shop, as they should be.
A machine shop inspection area was established in response, to check all parts, route them through machining if needed and send them on to the line if they met specifications.
"That eliminated about 80 percent of our non-conformance reports," said Roden.
A second Lean event was established to ensure every route tag would route parts to the machining area. It is still currently ongoing and is expected to be complete this year.
In the assembly area, a line-by-line audit of procedures performed in 2017 ensured all employees adhered to the same procedures to perform the same work.
Employees have also been empowered to report quality issues they find in new parts.
"I've initiated quite a few product quality deficiency reports, or PQDRs, to send parts back to suppliers," said Ed Watson, supervisor for the Dynamometer Branch.
He and his employees have also begun to research any PQDRs coming back from the field on engines produced here, to learn what happened and how to stop it from happening in the future.
"Now that quality conversations are happening, our employees are working together to improve procedures and find a better way to do their job," said Watson.
These shops, and others throughout the installation which are working to improve quality and reduce rework have helped reduce ANAD's total rework hours.
In FY17, ANAD had 15,907.4 total hours in rework. In FY19, the number was reduced to 10,660.6 hours of rework. During the same timeframe, total production hours increased from 2,690,605 to 3,443,528.5.