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NEWS | May 20, 2019

Tobyhanna, West Point team to Lean processes

By By Jacqueline Boucher

Army future leaders and depot personnel used Lean Six Sigma (LSS) problem solving methodology to develop a better way to fabricate cables and repair altimeters.

Tobyhanna Army Depot partners with the United States Military Academy -- West Point (New York) annually to provide a LSS Black Belt project for cadets to work on during their senior year. Team Tobyhanna personnel recently attended the annual Project Days event at West Point where the cadets presented their capstone projects. The teams worked together for about a year to streamline processes in the depot's Systems Integration and Support Directorate's Electronics Fabrication and C4ISR Directorate's Avionics divisions.

For years, West Point and Team Tobyhanna have joined forces to complete capstone projects benefitting depot programs and meeting student requirements. This year the cadets worked with Resource Management Directorate Lead Process Improvement Specialist Christopher Gogola and Process Improvement Division Chief Michael McKeefery on two Black Belt projects. 

Lean is a program of continuous improvement based on eliminating unnecessary steps in a process such as rearranging an area to improve work flow and increase efficiency. Lean also involves Value Stream Analysis to identify what can be improved.

The students visited Tobyhanna multiple times to conduct these projects. Working alongside depot employees they learned to define, measure, analyze, improve and control issues. During the process, the cadets helped facilitate activities that used Lean tools such as process maps, fishbone diagrams and root cause analysis, while applying Six Sigma techniques and tools like control charts and correlation analysis.

To fully understand the scope of the each project, cadets needed to observe work being performed on the shop floor, according to Cadet Nikolas Patterson. The cadets also praised depot personnel for explaining what was and wasn't working in the processes. 

Project participants were able to reduce the labor hours on the AN/APN-209 Radar Altimeter program, avoiding hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs. Among other things, team members recommended developing new standardized work instructions for employees and adding visual controls to different parts of the process.

It didn't take the other team long to realize there is no one way to fabricate cables since each cable has a different requirement. Their analysis indicated small procedural changes to Tobyhanna's way of doing business could have a large effect on the program. Establishing a mentor program for new employees was one of many suggestions to help save time and money. Team members also discussed the merits of standardized training.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna's Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR 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 4,000 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 empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.