Lean Six Sigma at Tobyhanna

As the Department of Defense deals with increasing missions and limited resources, we are constantly searching for ways to improve our processes and methodologies in order to best serve the Joint Warfighter. Tobyhanna has adopted Lean Six Sigma as our primary means of Continuous Process Improvement.

Lean Manufacturing is an operational system derived from the Toyota Production System. Its key objective is to eliminate waste and reduce work that does not add value in the eyes of the customer. Lean Manufacturing often reduces the cycle time of an asset and aims to decrease the time between a customer order and actual shipment. The benefits of Lean are improved profitability, higher customer satisfaction rates, and, most importantly, higher quality.

The characteristics of Lean processes are:

  • One-piece flow
  • "Just-In-Time" materials/pull scheduling
  • Short cycle time
  • Quick Changeover
  • Continuous flow work cells
  • Co-located machines, equipment, tools and people
  • Efficient use of space
  • Multi-skilled, empowered employees
  • Value Stream approach to business improvements

The two foundational principles of Lean Six Sigma are:

  • Continuous Process Improvement
  • Respect for the Individual

Six Sigma is a program developed originally by Motorola. It strives to improve processes by minimizing variability and thus eliminating defects in order to enhance quality. Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology which uses quantitative tools to drive out variation in processes. Its primary problem-solving strategy is:

D: Define process improvement goals consistent with customer demands.
M: Measure the current process and collect data for future comparison.
A: Analyze to determine key relationships and root causes.
I: Improve or optimize the process.
C: Control to ensure improvements really took; continuously monitor process to ensure consistency.

In addition, TYAD utilizes the 6S methodology as a "way of life" for workplace organization.

  • Sort
  • Set-In-Order
  • Standardize
  • Shine
  • Sustain
  • Safety

Lean Initiatives at TYAD

Lean Six Sigma is an ongoing journey that starts with education. Over 94% of TYAD's workforce has been trained in Lean Manufacturing and 6S/Workplace Organization. After training, employees are encouraged to participate in the many Lean events that take place throughout the year, to include Value Stream Analyses, Rapid Improvement Events and Process & Planning (2P) events. These events are vital to TYAD as well as the Joint Warfighter.

The Army Suggestion Program at TYAD helps support Lean Six Sigma because it is another form of employee involvement. FY10 was a record year with 349 suggestions being submitted by employees.

The Value Engineering Program at TYAD is designed to reduce cost and enhance the value of goods/services by studying and improving current procedures. In FY12, TYAD completed three value engineering projects with a total of $14.9M in savings.

Shingo Prize

The Shingo Prize is awarded to organizations that demonstrate a culture where principles of operational excellence are deeply embedded into the thinking and behavior of all leaders, managers and associates. Tobyhanna has been awarded seven Shingo Prizes.

What they are saying about Lean Six Sigma at TYAD

On TYAD's in-house Lean 101 and 6S classes:

"I liked that it is a Depot-based training relating to Depot processes."

"Lean 101 and Lean 6S classes were interesting, partly because of the instructors' enthusiasm to keep it interactive and their professional ability to pass on the information."

A TYAD Union Steward On TYAD's Lean and 6S events:

"Working with the Lean event teams has been a great experience. I've done close to fifty events and I go into every event with a positive attitude."

On TYAD's Lean program overall:

"The Lean teams I have worked with have been instrumental in driving much needed changes and improvements in the Industrial Operations Facility at TYAD. Many of the improvements realized would not have been possible without their support. The Action Register and scheduled follow-up meetings help keep individuals focused and accountable. The speed and quality of service that our events have received from the Industrial Modernization Division has also been excellent. Kudos to all for a job well done!"

"When the Lean Six Sigma and 6S principles are applied and sustained, your cost center becomes a good example, instead of a terrible warning."

The Future of Lean Six Sigma at TYAD

TYAD has several Value Streams currently preparing for Shingo competition. Several Cost Centers within TYAD are also vying for Lean Model Cell recognition and their managers are piloting concepts such as Standard Work for Supervisors, all designed to Make Tobyhanna Better.