Tobyhanna Army Depot's COMSEC Division takes the Shingo Silver
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TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. (July 63, 2012) -- Cutting in half the number of days it takes to receive, process and shelve equipment by the Tobyhanna Army Depot Communications Security Division not only delivers critical equipment to the Soldier faster and more economically, but it has also garnered national attention.

With the Army focused on efficiencies amid emerging fiscal constraints, Tobyhanna Army Depot Communications Security, or TYAD COMSEC, Division shows improving processes can greatly impact the bottom line. For their efforts, the organization is receiving the Shingo Silver Medallion.

"Even as dollars dwindle, the mission does not," said Chris Manning, project director COMSEC, which is assigned to the Army's Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, or PEO C3T. "So we have to rely on efficiencies and doing processes smarter and quicker to still maintain the level of support we deliver to our Soldiers."

PD COMSEC procures, sustains and fields capabilities that secure and encrypt data on the Army's tactical network. It is also a central point for the Army's system integrators who seek COMSEC expertise as they integrate network and software capabilities.

By improving the depot's equipment receiving process, the number of days it took to induct equipment dropped from 57 days to 28. Improvements made during the past four years to incorporate the Army business improvement methodologies of Lean Six Sigma and Value Stream Analysis resulted in an average overall savings of 31.5 percent since fiscal year 2008.

"Significant savings, coupled with decreased repair cycle times, directly results in Soldiers receiving critical COMSEC equipment quicker and at a reduced cost," said Janelle Farkas, industrial engineer, COMSEC Logistics Management Branch. "The Shingo prize recognition is indicative of the culture of continuous improvement we need to foster and continue to grow."

The Shingo prize is awarded to organizations that demonstrate strong use of tools and techniques, have mature systems that drive improvement and align thinking, and organizational behavior that demonstrates correct principles of operational excellence, according to Shaun Barker, director of operations and assessment for the Shingo Prize Academy.

This spring the Shingo prize committee visited TYAD, the largest, full-service electronics maintenance facility in the Department of Defense, to evaluate their organizational efficiency.

"We are very pleased that Tobyhanna Army Depot, COMSEC has received a Shingo Silver Medallion," said Barker. "They will now be joining a very distinguished group of recipients that have demonstrated a commitment to achieving operational excellence. We are proud to add Tobyhanna Army Depot, COMSEC to that elite group."

The single most important improvement that helped TYAD COMSEC Division earn the Shingo was employee involvement, according to Brian Regan, chief, Process Improvement Division at TYAD. Employees were encouraged to come up with creative solutions to execute work levels at or below normal time standards.

"Employee input and involvement is the key to Tobyhanna's continuous improvement culture," said Don Engel, chief, Research and Analysis Division at TYAD. "Without the employees wanting to improve their work areas and the quality of work, I don't think we would have even been nominated for a Shingo prize. It takes everyone to do their best, not just one individual."

The Shingo prize process is a multi-year process that includes educating the workforce, showing long-term sustained dedication to "lean" processes and organizational self-assessing.

"We are honored by the recognition that goes with this prestigious international award, but more importantly, this award validates our commitment to continuously improve the efficiency of our operations in support of the men and women of our Armed Forces," said Col. Charles Gibson, commander of Tobyhanna Army Depot.

As part of competing for the Shingo Prize, TYAD COMSEC Division had representatives of PD COMSEC's Cryptographic Systems attend a five-day event focused on improving how equipment was received and processed at the depot. The team identified five major activities to improve speed and accuracy of equipment intake and processing. Improvements were implemented immediately, reducing the processing period from 57 days to 28 days.

More changes are on the horizon designed to further reduce the time it takes to receive and shelve equipment to 20 days.

"The Shingo Prize is a shining example of how the Army's COMSEC materiel team is focused on doing the right thing," said Dennis Teefy, product director, Cryptographic Systems for PD COMSEC. "Each team member is dedicated to being effective and efficient which collectively demonstrates stewardship of the taxpayers' dollars. It also provides a level of assurance to the Army's senior leadership that the COMSEC mission is conducted with the least amount of resources, and any additional resources requested are truly required and will be smartly executed."

Other improvements have resulted in a reduced average actual cost for COMSEC supply functions by 51 percent per document and increased labor productivity of supply functions by 67 percent since fiscal year 2008.

TYAD COMSEC Division will receive the silver medallion next spring during the 25th Annual Shingo Prize ceremony. The Shingo prize, based on the concepts of operational excellence of Japanese industrial engineer Shigeo Shingo, is part of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University.

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