Tobyhanna cuts costs for TRC-190 radio mission
Electronics Mechanic David Walsh performs an operational test of an AN/TRC-190 radio system for a quality inspection at Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa. Depot personnel have improved visual management within the shop by placing parts and administrative too... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. (Dec. 7, 2011) -- Employee dedication to process improvement has cut costs for the depot's AN/TRC-190 radio support mission, which saw its 1,000th system inducted for the repair program called Reset.

The AN/TRC-190 High Capacity Line of Sight, or HCLOS, Radio Terminal is a multichannel radio terminal that allows point-to-point ultra high frequency radio links between various nodes of the Mobile Subscriber Equipment communications system. Tobyhanna Army Depot began working the AN/TRC-190 in 2007, completing 174 systems that year. In 2011, that number peaked at more than 600.

Tobyhanna is performing two major AN/TRC-190 missions; Reset for the U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command, and a retrofit in conjunction with the overhaul effort for Project Manager Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, known as PM WIN-T. Tobyhanna personnel work on six versions of the AN/TRC-190.

Within these versions, shelters can be customized to meet customer requirements. Radios are upgraded, as required, to expand bandwidth and technicians can modify electrical patch panels, cable power supplies and circuit breakers.

Tobyhanna Army Depot recently inducted the 1,000th AN/TRC-190 on the Reset program since the effort began in 2008.

An Army National Guard system assigned to the 151st Signal Battalion from Greenville, S.C., is scheduled for completion by the end of January. Tobyhanna plans to induct about 300 systems for fiscal year 2012.

"Tobyhanna studies the specific needs and offers the right solutions for the TRC-190 HCLOS Reset program," stated Travis Watson, a CECOM logistics management specialist. "This ensures the war fighters' requirements are met."

The gain in productivity was made possible by an enterprise-wide commitment to improvement, Lean initiatives, and a commitment by the prime shop, Digital Group Multiplexer and Mobile Subscriber Equipment, or DGM/MSE, Branch, to quality and efficiency, in partnership with the Production Management and Productivity Improvement and Innovation directorates. The DGM/MSE Branch is part of the depot's Communications Systems Directorate.

"Tobyhanna has offered the same unit funded cost on the PM WIN-T workload for the past three fiscal years despite the yearly increases to labor rates and material costs." said Kris Martin, a depot LMS.

Sustaining the unit funded cost was accomplished by streamlining the route, reducing material usage, driving down man-hour standards and general process improvements.

There were two major process changes where efficiencies were gained resulting in increased buying power to the customer.

"Tobyhanna was running two independent TRC-190 programs for PM WIN-T. One was for overhauling the shelters and the other was to perform the retrofit and install the upgrades," explained Michael Broskoskie, a depot production controller. "We were able to consolidate both efforts into one continuous flow and eliminate redundant operations. This highlights the team efforts of everyone involved, from the customer to the shop and back."

The second initiative streamlined the way power cables were processed and resulted in saving four hours per shelter.

"It might not sound like a big deal when you hear of saving four hours per shelter, but with the volume of TRC-190s Tobyhanna is working, it really adds up," said Maria Portanova, a depot production controller.

Several Lean techniques were implemented, including a Point Kaizen event in September.

"Point Kaizen refers to small, isolated improvements that are easy to implement quickly. For example, we established a few areas to help consolidate items like our racks and cleaning tools so everyone will focus on the one location when looking for what they need rather than searching and asking for where an item is," explained Joe Ehrenhardt, electronics mechanic leader.

All five-to-seven-day work in process items were moved to a storage warehouse so that an item only has to be moved once, rather than several times.

Visual management in the DGM/MSE Branch was improved by placing parts and administrative tools where they are within reach for the work areas, increasing efficiency.

"It helps us to remain flexible to be able to take on more workload to satisfy customer needs, which change on a regular basis," said Dave Walsh, a depot electronics mechanic.

A digital Production Control board reflects the branch's schedule for the current month, allowing everyone to see clearly and quickly where they stand within the schedule.

"There was great participation and teamwork within our directorate and the supporting directorates to help us improve our efficiencies," noted Chris Cognigni, DGM/MSE Branch chief.

Cognigni emphasized that the AN/TRC-190s go through several processes throughout the depot before a system is considered complete.

Everything in a system, from the radios to the hoist rings on the shelter, are repaired and inspected for quality before being sent back to a unit.

"Tobyhanna Army Depot continues to improve and develop to become the premiere Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance facility in the Department of Defense," Watson said.

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 Life Cycle Management Command.

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.

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Tobyhanna Army Depot