NEWS | Aug. 4, 2021

Proponents of change earn Army team excellence awards

By Ms. Jacqueline Boucher

Proponents of change earn Army team excellence awards | Article | The United States Army

An increase in the number of AN/TSC-167 Satellite Transportable Terminals (STT) coming to Tobyhanna Army Depot for repair prompted employees working in C4ISR Directorate’s Satellite Communications Division to streamline business practices earning one of the depot’s three Army-level process improvement awards.

Three depot teams were awarded Process Improvement Project Team Excellence Awards (PIPTEA) during the 12th biennial Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Excellence Award Program (LEAP) ceremony, held virtually on July 29. During the ceremony, a dozen Army organizations were recognized for their superior performance in implementing LSS business process improvement tools and methodologies and their overall impact on the transformation of the business of the Army.

Personnel in Tobyhanna Army Depot’s Systems Integration and Support Directorate’s Paint Branch and Electronic Fabrication Division received the Non-Enterprise Project Team Awards for outstanding green and black belt projects, respectively. STT subject matter experts took home the Non-Gated Project Team Award for the outstanding non-gated project.

The STT team started implementing change when the number of systems increased from 33 systems per year to 110. The project established a best practice for testing line replaceable units before installing them into the system, which reduced the direct labor hours from 228 to 107 per production order.

Employees were able to eliminate inadequate testing capabilities and institute new processes. For instance, line replaceable units are tested prior to installation, instead of installing and troubleshooting assets during system testing.

In addition, to surpassing customer expectations of 132 direct labor hours, the project will realize a sizeable financial boon within three years.

“This reduction improved Tobyhanna’s process capability to meet customer expectations for testing and improved our ability to maintain our competitive edge,” said Paul Sheftz, electronic integrated systems mechanic. Sheftz works in the C4ISR Directorate’s TACSAT Systems Branch.

Personnel administering the cable fabrication process were able to cut rework hours by 30 percent by mitigating root causes. The team used tools like brainstorming improvements, multi-voting, pilot plans and implementing approved solutions into the future state to better support the Army’s mission.

To ensure materials consistently met specifications, the team established an integrated prime vendor contract. The team also reduced the learning curve by purchasing connector boots to eliminate a manual epoxy application process and developing shop notes for new projects improved preproduction planning.

As a result, monthly overruns in the cable fabrication process dropped from 1,246 to 240 hours, according to Gene Golembeski, Shelter Harness Branch chief. Process changes also saw a seven percent increase in the division’s cost performance, he added.

“These solutions, along with other solutions from this project were replicated on a number of cable fabrication projects throughout the Electronic Fabrication Division,” Golembeski said.

Paint Branch personnel also worked hard to reduce hours of rework. Each week, paint misses, adhesion issues, documentation and process issues would result in unplanned costs and delays to production schedules.

Team members created a cleaning schedule and plastic coverings for racks, and introduced weekly leader checks to ensure standards are being maintained.

“Developing a standardized painter package minimized variation between painters,” said Jonathan Gaydos, painter supervisor. “Streamlining processes helped us realize an increase in the number of operations completed per week – 166 to 249 assets.”

The repair cycle time to process assets reduced from five to three days, he added.

LSS is one of the main methodologies being used to help the Army meet the efficiency savings goals established by the Secretary of Defense. These savings will be realized by using LSS to transform organizations, management practices and systems that have created inefficiencies and waste.

LSS uses a set of data-driven tools to improve operational and organizational processes. Applied to the Army, this total systems approach encourages enterprise-wide synergy. Typically, processes that seem localized and self-contained start to spread across the organization and require total Army leadership support. By embracing the enterprise approach, the Army can continue to benefit from and duplicate the success of LSS as a business organization, institution and culture. The LEAP awards, as part of the Army’s LSS program, are helping the Army be better stewards of the taxpayer dollars.

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.