Tobyhanna Army Depot, PA –
The key to success for one ever-evolving depot organization is its people. As a team, they have embraced a culture of continuous improvement that advances products, services or processes through incremental or breakthrough changes all at once.
The Electronics Shelter Systems Branch personnel are the masterminds behind a distinct mission that occupies a significant portion of Tobyhanna Army Depot’s real property. The organization’s approach to continuous improvement gives employees a process for reporting and acting upon ideas to save money, improve processes, satisfy clients, and improve quality.
“The Electronics Shelter Systems Branch is one of the most diverse cost centers on the depot, in terms of the variety of workload and assets it supports,” said Paul Borosky, Systems Integration and Support Directorate director. “Hiram Gillyard and his staff have achieved an exceptionally high level of success by inspiring employees to appreciate each other’s jobs to enable this execution.” As Integration Support Division chief, Gillyard also leads operations in three other branches.
Sheet metal workers and electricians in the Electronics Shelter Systems Branch sustain a robust program that supports a number of military assets. Employees fabricate, upgrade, modify and repair systems such as four types of electronic shop van, AN/TRC-190 High Capacity Line of Sight Radio Terminal, AN/TRC-170 Tropospheric Scatter Microwave Radio Terminal, AN/GRN-29 Instrument Landing System, AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar Communications Equipment Group and Power Equipment Group, Intelligence Processing Center Shelter, Armament Repair Shop Set, and Joint Defense Operations and Base Defense Operations centers. Team members noted they rely on various support shops to accomplish their mission.
Earlier this year the branch expanded operations to fill a modernized bay in one of the depot’s warehouses. Branch personnel also conduct business in other locations including the Tactical End Item Repair Facility.
“Three years ago we had a vision of how bay’s workspace could be used for our expanding workload,” Borosky said. “Once the project received the green light, line leadership and employees worked diligently to design the space for maximum efficiency and flexibility. It’s a credit to all of them to be where we are today.”
Electronics Shelter Systems Branch partners with production management to determine the best fit for work coming to the organization. Sheet metal professionals perform jobs such as shelter modification and population, which includes rack and countertop installation. Electricians handle electrical requirements, for example, hang and install raceway, wire shelters, build harnesses, and bend conduit.
“When a shelter comes here for overhaul, we disassemble it completely, send components to the appropriate shop for repair, then reassemble the asset when everything comes back to us,” said Tyson Gerhart, electrician leader in the branch. “All the work performed in the shop conforms to tried and true processes.” Employees play an active role in how work is accomplished within the branch, he remarked, adding that Lean initiatives are at the core of every process.
Gillyard said the shelter branch team is always looking for ways to drive the business forward. For instance, personnel are incorporating continuous improvement processes and the phases of work to carry out a five-system mixed model asset line with unlimited capability in the large modernized facility, he added.
“We examine workload from all angles, bring in our subject matter experts to streamline processes, then give the customer the vision of how we can serve them,” he said. “Everyone is willing to roll up their sleeves to help make the program better.”
Lean experts here spoke highly of the organization’s ability to implement Lean initiatives and use Lean tools such as visual management, process flow and line balance among others.
“The strength of the branch is generating standard processes designed to achieve efficiency,” said Process Improvement Division Chief Michael McKeefery. “The multi-skilled individuals in the organization pave the way for diversity of systems in the cost center. Their passion for providing the best product to the customer at the best price is admirable.” McKeefery works in the Resource Management Directorate.
The branch has two shifts to sustain multiple workloads. So far this year, personnel have completed dozens of shelters, radio terminals, and deployable, self-contained repair shops, plus three ground-based, multi-role radars and six vans.
According to branch chief Donald Vozzi, 60 percent of the branch’s workload involves disassembly, reassembly and upgrade work. The remaining 40 percent is new fabrication assets that are coming into the shop. He explained that shelters are empty shells and personnel install everything according to customer specifications. Newer assets are being built from the ground up.
“What sets our branch apart from the others is how we do the work,” Vozzi said. “We’ve spent a lot of time developing phases of work that can be applied to everything we do. Of, course, the foundation of any successful organization is employee buy-in. They know what they need to help them do their jobs.”