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NEWS | June 10, 2024

Tobyhanna, West Point continue partnership with award-winning Lean Six Sigma projects

By Mr. Nicolo Manzo

In the latest iteration of a longstanding partnership spanning more than a decade, three groups of United States Military Academy (West Point) cadets in their senior years completed Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Black Belt projects provided by Team Tobyhanna.

Lean is a program of continuous improvement based on eliminating unnecessary steps in a process such as rearranging an area to improve workflow and increase efficiency. Lean also involves Value Stream Analysis to identify potential improvements.

This year, three groups of West Point cadets completed three award-winning projects focused on improving end item delivery impacting frozen performance to promise and improving schedule variance affecting two depot cost centers. Each of the three teams worked closely with members of Team Tobyhanna as they followed the five-step method (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) of LSS.

At the 2024 Gen. Donald R. Keith Memorial Capstone Conference, the project titled “Lean Six Sigma Cable Fabrication Tobyhanna” was named Best In Track Presentation for the Project and Engineering Management track, and the projects titled “Lean Six Sigma: Tobyhanna 5M540 Kitting Process” and “Improve End Item Delivery Impacting Frozen Performance to Promise Metric” were named Best In Track Paper and Best In Track Presentation, respectively, for the Process Modeling and Analysis track.

The partnership, which has become competitive due to its popularity, has been value added to both TYAD and over a decade of cadets. After cadets are expertly prepared at West Point, the projects offer a practical firsthand application of the processes they have been taught in the classroom. In turn, the projects help TYAD assess areas in need of improvement, adjust processes, and improve warfighter readiness.

The culmination of the cadets’ time with TYAD was an out brief, during which the cadets presented their journeys through the five steps of LSS to depot leadership and members of Team Tobyhanna.

The out brief was an excellent opportunity for the cadets to present their findings, results, and recommendations to depot leadership.

Maj. Ed Yoon, who advised one of the projects, said having concrete results to validate the cadets’ efforts is important for putting the complex LSS process and its benefits into perspective for the cadets.

“Lean Six Sigma is a refined process. What the cadets get to see when they work on projects like this is they get the quantitative outputs. They can see the effects that they’re analysis and recommendations have. I think that’s a huge win in terms of a cadet in their senior year at West Point seeing that these processes do work,” said Yoon.

The out brief also allowed for members of Team Tobyhanna to come face to face with the next generation of warfighters who their work helps to protect.

In introducing the cadets, Michael McKeefery, Chief of TYAD’s Process Improvement Division, didn’t miss the opportunity to highlight how special this kind of interaction is.

“This is what it’s all about,” said McKeefery. “The end users who give our work meaning are here today.”

Ryan Rast, one of the cadets who worked to reduce overruns with TYAD’s electrical cable branch, said it was a privilege to work with and learn from Team Tobyhanna while achieving positive results.

“Through the teamwork of the cadets and members of the great Team Tobyhanna community, we were able to decrease overruns by 73%. The cadets learned a ton about Lean Six Sigma, and Team Tobyhanna was immensely helpful throughout the whole process,” said Rast.

Sgt. Maj. Jeremy Schlegel, who also served as a project advisor, doubled down on Rast’s thoughts and said the opportunities for cadets to apply what they have learned in a real-world environment, immerse themselves in a culture of continuous improvement, and make connections have been invaluable.

“The relationship (West Point) has had with Tobyhanna for 13 years now has really made a difference in the cadets and their understanding of the application of the items they’re learning in their degree program,” said Schlegel. “(The cadets) come to Tobyhanna and are embraced in a culture of continuous improvement, in which they’re able to take not just the charts and the slides and everything that they’re learning, but they’re able to relate it to relationships here at Tobyhanna, which is incredibly important to them making a difference in the Army they’re about to serve in.”

In closing the out brief and wishing the cadets well for the exciting adventures that are ahead of them, TYAD Deputy Commander Rob Lantka thanked the cadets for their work and for being the reason Team Tobyhanna is constantly evaluating efficiency in delivering the best product for our nation’s warfighters.

“What you have done is a big deal,” said Lantka. “You are reinforcing Team Tobyhanna’s culture and commitment to continuous improvement. Your work rejuvenates our civilian workforce and gives our work purpose.”

TYAD’s commitment to continuous improvement through LSS and partnership with the West Point cadets directly aligns with Tobyhanna’s long-range strategic plan, TOBY2035, which has four focus areas: Invest in Our People, C5ISR Readiness, Shape the Future and Strategic Communications. TOBY2035 aims to posture the depot for success in the coming years as the Department of Defense's premier worldwide C5ISR readiness provider.

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 3,100 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 CECOM. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.