Quick wins lead to big wins for Tobyhanna


By Amanda Spock
Tobyhanna Army Depot

TOBYHANNA ARMY DEPOT, Pa. — Contrary to popular belief, cost savings do not have to be the result of ideas generated within a Lean event.  Employees can implement internal processes to generate savings, which is exactly what happened in one cost center here.

Tobyhanna employees implemented quick improvement wins on the AN/APR-39 Data Processor workload. A combination of implementation, innovation and communication reduced about six direct labor hours per asset to generate more than a million dollars in savings.

Technicians in the C4ISR Directorate’s Airborne Identification and Countermeasures Section perform electrical testing, software upgrades and electrical work on the data processor, which detects and identifies threats.

The AN/APR-39 supports multiple aviation platforms used by the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Tobyhanna’s largest customer for this particular effort is the Navy.  With an increase in workload, employees thought it would benefit the customer to implement minor changes into their process and document the changes on an Internal Efficiency A3. These simple, quick wins generated a cost savings of $1,329,186 over a three year period.

Employees reduced direct labor hours associated with each AN/APR-39 through numerous Lean improvements, consolidation and reorganization of their work areas. Section employees developed a one-piece flow by setting up an aisle specifically for the AN/APR-39 workload, eliminating the back-and-forth travel between operations.

A shipping area designed for convenience of the shop and material movement includes a wrapping station to assist with the prepping of shipments, decreasing labor hours spent packaging systems.

“The shop is planning to consolidate even more with the upcoming workload and new versions of the AN/APR-39.  We are always looking for possibilities,” said Electronics Worker Darrin Sheare, a resident of Forest City.

In addition to implementing the new workload flow, one employee designed a simple, yet effective tool for storing disassembled parts. Electronics Mechanic Rob Callis (a resident of Dickson City) created a small, rectangular box to put parts in during disassembly.  On top of the box is a piece of foam with holes that correspond to bolts on the unit.  Each hole represents a bolt, so that if one is empty, the employee knows that a part is missing from the asset.

This tool is an easy visual management system that helps account for all parts and prevents foreign object debris from getting inside an asset.

“There is a spot for all the parts and everything is kept in one place,” stated Callis. “It helps cut down on foreign object damage and makes the disassembly and reassembly process more efficient.”

Communication is key within the section. “We run efficiently because if we have good ideas, then we share them with the team,” Sheare said. Team members share ideas not only internally, but with support organizations and the customer as well.

“Our AN/APR 39 line leader, Dave Blanner (a resident of Hazleton), does an excellent job in communicating with customers, production controllers, engineers and any support personnel,” said Sheare. “He really does a lot for our line.”

Production is discussed directly with the customer on a weekly basis, which aids employees in providing outstanding customer service.

Along with process improvements, hardware was installed to make the job easier and provide additional capabilities.  Microscopes at each station assist employees with the intricate electrical work.

Another piece of automated test equipment will soon be installed to accommodate the newest version of the AN/APR-39.  Employees also began using an updated diplexer wrench for ease of access to the connectors to prevent damage caused from over tightening, stripping and breaking.  To ensure maintenance capabilities in the field, Soldiers were trained on how to use this tool.  Prior, Soldiers would sometimes damage the connectors on the expensive equipment when using a typical wrench, leaving them at a standstill.  The new tool is more precise and useful in the field.

“It wasn’t just the work of the shop, but a team effort that involved multiple organizations,” said Harding resident Sam Capizzi, section chief. “All the implementations came together to improve the workload and customer satisfaction.”

With healthy workloads scheduled for this asset in fiscal years 2016 and 2017, the savings this team came up with will continue to benefit the customer and Tobyhanna Army Depot for a long time to come.

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.

045-2015 Quick winsRob Callis, an electronics mechanic at Tobyhanna Army Depot, uses the visual management device he created
to account for the AN/APR-39 parts during assembly. (U.S. Army photo by Steve Grzezdzinski)