Army civilian Lean event increases output for Air Force trainer

Mr. Steve Grzezdzinski, CECOM

TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. — An employee-driven project converted an unorganized, inefficient space into a well-oiled, efficient operation using visual management cues and techniques.

An increase in the Unmanned Threat Emitter System (UMTE) workload in the Single Threat Systems Section and the depot reorganization dictated a move to a new location last July to augment production. UMTEs provide realistic tactical training for combat aircrews, Air Force pilots can practice their tactics before encountering threats in actual combat.

The 10-member UMTE team, struggling after the move with a lack of ample space for work and storage, recognized the need to set things in order to better serve warfighters. By bringing in process improvement specialists Eric Dial and Bob Reese from the Continuous Process Improvement Directorate, the team gained important insight.

The pair coached the team to develop ideas and make decisions based on time-proven 6S techniques.

Improvements to the Air Force Unmanned Threat Emitter System workload at Tobyhanna Army Depot led to improved workflow and tracking of assets, hardware and supplies. Photo Credit: Mr. Steve Grzezdzinski (CECOM)

Improvements to the Air Force Unmanned Threat Emitter System workload at Tobyhanna Army Depot led to improved workflow and tracking of assets, hardware and supplies. Photo Credit: Mr. Steve Grzezdzinski (CECOM)

6S identifies the various waste in the process such as injuries, defects, excessive inventory, over production, waiting, unnecessary movement, and processing waste. The basic steps of 6S are:
1. SORT (get rid of what’s not needed)
2. SET-IN-ORDER (organize what belongs)
3. SHINE (clean up, see and solve problems)
4. SAFETY (discover and resolve unsafe conditions)
5. STANDARDIZE (who does what to keep it up)
6. SUSTAIN (be disciplined & keep it orderly)

“This team took charge and made the right decisions,” said Reese. “Each member contributed. They recognized what they had to do and made it happen.”

The team set the analysis in motion working in the shop area, creating a labor intensive hands-on effort to incorporate their ideas for improvement.

“Our team seemed to have great synergy right from the start and worked well together throughout the entire event,” said subject matter expert Thomas Chernasky. “We were able to achieve all of our objectives.”

Deconstructing the outmoded workspace, then piecing it together using a step-by-step visual management process, the team established an efficient flow for incoming and outgoing products, eliminated clutter and trip hazards, organized storage space, removed excess inventory, and taped off multiple work cells to increase production.

“To date, we’ve been able to sustain the improvements which led to improved workflow and helped substantially with locating our assets, hardware and various supplies,” Chernasky added.

Prior to the event the team didn’t have enough space — only three or four systems were able to be worked. After the event, they have more capacity — eight systems are in production at any given time. Other managers are now asking for similar help.

Other team members were: Keith Regula, Ian Sessock, John Reklaitis, Frank Perry, Jim Martin, Robert Johnson, Bob Wormuth and Elizabeth Hubbard.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C4ISR 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 Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.

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