Tobyhanna Army Depot earns 5th Shingo medallion

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Tobyhanna, PA – Employees here have earned an international-level quality award for improvements to the Sidewinder missile mission.

Robert Miller, the executive director of the Shingo Prize Office presented a Shingo Bronze Medallion to deputy commander Frank Zardecki on Jan. 31, who presented it to the employees of the Sidewinder Missile team.

Branch employees earned the medallion for improvements to the repair process of the AIM-9(M) Sidewinder missile guidance and control section (GCS).  Improvements were made by developing and implementing Lean Six Sigma techniques that yielded a number of efficiencies to the repair process.

The efficiencies produced a 38 percent reduction in repair cycle time, a 15 percent in reduction in labor hours and nearly $5,000 in cost avoidance per missile.

Depot commander Col. Charles Gibson noted that the award is the fifth Shingo award the depot has earned.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment,” he said.  “Each of you should take great pride in what you have achieved to improve our performance on this critical weapons system.  Even more importantly, what you accomplished while improving our Sidewinder value stream makes us a stronger organization overall, more cost effective and more responsive to our customers’ need for high quality products and services.”

He said the bottom line is that depot employees are turning around equipment to the joint warfighter faster and more effectively in a wartime environment.

Kirk Nicholas, the director of the Army’s Continuous Process Improvement/Lean Six Sigma Program, said that the Army has seen 18.8 billion in financial benefits in the last four years through Lean Six Sigma efforts by Tobyhanna Army Depot and other Army organizations.

“Every effort we make is critical in support of those young men and women who raise their right hand and sign up to go into harm’s way,” he said.  “Sidewinder team: great job and an incredible story.”

By pursuing the Shingo prize as a target for your improvement efforts, you set your sights on a standard that is extremely high.

Miller noted that he travels to many countries and that he has the best job because he goes to the very best organizations and meets the very best people, “the ones who are passionate about their work, the ones who are committed, the ones who are involved in continuously making things better.”

There’s a certain sprit that radiates in people who are involved in bringing about improvements, and I feel that spirit in this facility as strongly as I feel it anywhere,” he said.

Miller said that earning a Shingo medallion is not the conclusion, but a milestone on the journey of continuous improvement.

“One of the key principles of operational excellence is, in fact, seek perfection,” he said.  “You might say that perfection is impossible, and that might be true, but it’s the journey towards it, the constant seeking for it that counts.  We’re always recognizing that there is a better way to do things.  The Shingo prize doesn’t go to the sprinter, the Shingo prize goes to the marathon runner.”

State and local officials attended the ceremony, including Larry West and Jenn Ezerskis, representing State Senator John Blake, Dr. Nabil Tamimi, chairman of the Operations and Information Management Department, University of Scranton; Robert Phillips, president, and Patricia Metzgar, vice president, Greater Pocono Chamber of Commerce; Bill Schoen, Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce Skills in Scranton program; Anthony Manorek and Maureen Mulcahy, Northeast Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Council.

Tobyhanna Army Depot has also earned the following Shingo medallions:

• 2006 Bronze medallion, AN/TPS-75 air traffic control radar

• 2007 Gold medallion, AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder radar

• One each 2008 Bronze Medallion, AN/TYQ-23 Command and Control System, and AN/ASM-189 Electronics Van.

The Sidewinder is a heat-seeking, short-range, air-to-air missile.  Technicians here have been repairing the missile guidance and control sections since 2000.

The Shingo Prize program recognizes private and public sector organizations that successfully apply Lean Six Sigma techniques to improve the quality and efficiency of their operations.  It is regarded as the premier manufacturing award recognition program for North America.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department’s largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network.  Tobyhanna’s missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.

About 5,600 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 Life Cycle Management Command.  Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md., 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.

CAPTION: Tobyhanna Army Depot employees received an international-level quality award for improvements to the AIM-9(M) Sidewinder missile guidance and control section repair program during a ceremony Jan. 31.  Sidewinder technicians were presented with a Shingo Bronze Medallion by Robert Miller (top photo, far right) the executive director of the Shingo Prize Office, for developing and implementing Lean Six Sigma (LSS) techniques that yielded a number of efficiencies to the repair process. Kirk Nicholas, the director of the Army’s Continuous Process Improvement/Lean Six Sigma Program, said the Army has seen $18.8 billion in financial benefits in the last four years through LSS efforts by Tobyhanna and other Army organizations. The Shing Prize program recognizes private and public sector organizations that successfully apply LSS techniques to improve the quality and efficiency of their operations.  It is regarded as the premier manufacturing award recognition program for North America.  Officials who attended were (top photo, from left): depot commander Col. Charles Gibson; AFGE Local 1647 representative Michael McGinty; Jeff Smith, Sidewinder production controller; Michael McCain, Systems Integration and Support Directorate; George Bellas, director of C3/Avionics; John Tayoun, Sidewinder electronics mechanic; Robert Kinsey, Sidewinder work leader; Wayne Watkins, chief of the Tactical Missile Division; Russell Strausser, chief of the Sidewinder Missile Branch, and Frank Zardecki, deputy commander.  Other state and local officials attended the ceremony.  (U.S. Army photos by Tony Medici)