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NEWS | July 1, 2019

Simple changes strengthen Soldier readiness

By Ms. Jacqueline Boucher

Improved communication between job shop employees has resulted in vast improvements to how precision measuring devices are repaired at Tobyhanna Army Depot. The actions taken as part of a green belt project earned high praise at an annual Department of the Army competition.

Tobyhanna leads the pack in the organic industrial base with half a dozen Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Excellence Awards Program (LEAP) awards. Depot personnel accepted the 2018 Process Improvement Program Team Excellence Award (PIPTEA) -- Non-Enterprise Green Belt Level during a recent ceremony at the Pentagon.

A diverse group of subject matter experts joined forces last year, determined to reduce the amount of time spent recalibrating or realigning indicators and gyros. Simple changes to streamline the overhaul process is making it possible for Tobyhanna to return the avionics components to stock or to the warfighters in the field faster. Labor hours were cut in half and officials estimate the cost savings from fiscal year 2018 to 2020 will be $829,000. 

The Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Directorate's Airborne Indicators Branch was experiencing an unacceptable level of rework on aircraft indicators and gyros. The Green Belt team members implemented continuous process improvement (CPI) initiatives to identify issues and list possible solutions. 

The team came up with five ideas that turned everything around, according to Production Controller and Green Belt project lead Paul Hoban. Hoban works in the Production Management Directorate.
"You wouldn't know to look at them, but these assets are very sensitive and need to be handled with care," Hoban said. "We discovered that if the methods for handling and transporting the components were modified, we could improve the process."

Team members developed foam cutouts for shadow boards and boxes to cushion the delicate instruments at different stages of overhaul, even during the paint process. In addition, pneumatic-wheeled carts were purchased to provide a smooth ride to and from the shops. Employees proved the liberal use of visual management techniques to be helpful. Changes also include providing specialized training to everyone who handles the asset, from the inspectors to the painters, in an effort to standardize performance.

Nearly 1,000 gyros and indicators travel through the shops annually, according to Joe Dohman, production controller in the Production Management Directorate. 

A veteran gyro mechanic was surprised to learn how often the precision measuring equipment was being handled outside his work area. 

"Once we eliminated the unnecessary movements and defined handling techniques, things have improved considerably," said Electronics Mechanic John Bandru. "We even started using a smaller paint booth closer to where the personnel are working on the components to reduce touch time." Bandru is assigned to the C4ISR Directorate's Avionics Division.

In 2008, the Army Secretary and Chief of Staff established the annual Army LSS LEAP awards program to recognize organizations, project team members, and individual practitioners for outstanding contributions improving Army business processes; empower transformation of the Army's business processes; motivate individuals and organizations to aggressively pursue process improvement, and accelerate enterprise management by disseminating best practices and lessons learned across the Army.

Organizations are recognized for their outstanding efforts deploying CPI initiatives and individual project teams are recognized for their exceptional contribution and results supporting the CPI initiatives.