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NEWS | Feb. 10, 2020

Process improvements help Language Lab mission grow

By Ms. Danielle Weinschenk

A collaborative approach to process improvement has led to growth for an enduring Tobyhanna Army Depot mission.

The depot's Language Lab program, which installs learning centers in countries across the world, implemented a series of cost-saving measures that allowed customers to get more for their money. The centers provide self-guided training for foreign nationals learning the English language.

A typical Language Lab mission begins at Tobyhanna, where depot employees build the lab kits and test them for functionality. Then, the kits are packaged and shipped to installation locations in all corners of the world. Sixty days later, depot employees arrive to complete the installation and provide training for the foreign nationals. The installations require hardware and software expertise, giving employees from various directorates the opportunity to work together on the mission.

One improvement for the program was championed by Ed Mizanty, the workload's project manager. His efforts to utilize readily-available computers saved the program over $200,000 since implementation. Other improvements developed by the cross-functional team include a streamlined furniture configuration that is quicker and easier to install, as well as a carefully crafted scheduling function that allows for back-to-back installations in a geographic region.

"As a team, we're constantly looking for ways to improve and better serve our customers," said Mizanty, adding that the team recently took on the responsibility for installing specialized Defense Language Institute Language Lab software. He says this small improvement makes a big difference.

"Installing this computer-based software during the build process streamlines the process and moves Tobyhanna closer to being a 'one stop shop' for Language Labs."

"Always growing" is a theme for the program, according to Eric Walker, chief of the Field Logistics Support Directorate's Forward Operations and Training Branch. He assumed the role in December and says he's eager to help the team further improve.

"This is a great mission that continues to evolve over time," said Walker. "Our Language Lab customers are so satisfied with our building and installation efforts that they are now coming back for sustainment services."

The depot's Language Lab program originated in 2001. Since then, employees have installed more than 500 labs in over 100 countries across the world. Upcoming missions will take place in Guinea Bissau, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Ukraine.