JRB Fort Worth Reserve team embraces NAVRIIP



Jul 26, 2004

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By Betsy Haley

NAVRIIP Communications Team

Navy and Marine Corps Reserves recently combined their talents at Joint Reserve Base (JRB), Fort Worth, Texas, in order to begin implementing best business practices into maintenance and supply activities. The purpose is to gain efficiencies and follow the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) cultural change to cost-wise aircraft ready for tasking (A-RFT).

During a recent tour of the base, Naval Aviation Readiness Integrated Improvement Program (NAVRIIP) leadership team exposed the Reserves to the process improvement tools available in the NAVRIIP and AIRSpeed toolkits. The team focused on areas where implementing best business practices and principles would prove beneficial to the unique Reserve operational environment and help support RFT aircraft.

“We are in the AIRSpeed bubble,” said CDR Dennis Moody, JRB Fort Worth, aircraft intermediate maintenance department (AIMD) maintenance officer. “We are educated in the theory, and now we want to learn how it should be applied to our daily operations.”

The focus of NAVRIIP is to expedite the development and implementation of cost-wise solutions to readiness barriers as the NAE changes its processes. AIRSpeed is NAVRIIP’s enabler for operationalizing cost-wise readiness across the NAE. AIRSpeed focuses on the total aviation solution within all levels of supply and maintenance, using industry process improvement tools under the architecture of Theory of Constraints (T0C), along with Lean and Six Sigma.

“NAVRIIP/AIRSpeed builds the assets to do more work, quicker,” said Vice Adm. Wally Massenburg, commander of the Naval Air Systems Command and NAVRIIP chief operating officer. “It becomes a vehicle you ride on. Navy and Marine Corps troops then have the tools they need when deployed. The programs give you leverage.”

The biggest challenge facing the Marine Air Logistics Squadron 41 (MALS-41) and AIMD power plants division is a limited number of F-404 engine mechanics.

“We are looking to you, the NAVRIIP Leadership, for improvement guidance,” said Moody.

Recently, the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve leadership initiated steps in the right direction by introducing Lean and the other process improvement tools to the AIMD/MALS-41 work center staff. Though still in the learning process, the team is beginning to streamline the work center processes and reorganize the work areas in an attempt to achieve increased production and morale. In particular, the maintainers have begun combining and consolidating all of the maintenance assets into one main building, reorganizing the workstations for disassembly, repair, assembly and ready for issue (RFI), relocating tools and parts inventory closer to the modules and reducing excess materials. The improvements have already proven beneficial by creating more convenient access to parts and tools and reducing the maintenance footprint.

“We are focusing strictly on putting out good products,” said Gunnery Sgt. James Hernandez, 400-division production control chief, AIMD/MALS-41. “Quality is first and foremost. We won’t see an engine back here before it’s due for average scheduled maintenance because we are careful and have slowed down our processes. We have pride in our products. The Navy and Marines also work extremely well together, which helps.”

Lean methodologies help focus the Navy and Marine Corps Reserves on improving facilities repair, material management and training procedures. Also, by building new supply bins for the intermediate maintenance requirements list and locating the parts in the center of the work area, 8-10 man-hours have been saved due to less travel time. The parts are decentralized and out on the floor for more convenient access. Now, a civilian on station fills the bins twice a day, instead of requiring the maintainers to travel back and forth for parts.

“We are learning to better manage our manpower,” said Hernandez. “Right now, we produce six engines a month; our goal is seven or seven and a half. In addition to building the new engine repair facility, and as we continue with the process improvements and training the Fleet, we should reach this goal.”

The Reserves in AIMD/MALS-41 power plants also requested maintenance parts kits for the F-404 engine. This new process is planned, using Lean principles.

“Also, everyone is enjoying a better quality of life because we are no longer working on the weekends,” said Gunnery Sgt. Julian Escamilla.

Due to be completed next month, the new engine repair facility will provide the Reserves with features that are not available in the current building. The new building is equipped with proper lighting for the entire shop floor, air conditioning that will allow for comfortable year-round working conditions and overhead cranes [that extend from one end of the facility to the other. There is approximately 20,000 square feet of production floor space, which is 2,000 more square feet than what is available now. The new facility will be used to maintain both F-404 and T-56 engines.

To avoid configuration rework in the future, the NAVRIIP team suggested implementing Lean theories into the design and layout phases in an effort to introduce best business practices now before the building is complete. Implementing Lean theory now is essential because the Reserves are still in the early learning stages of AIRSpeed implementation and have not fully introduced its tools into all of their processes or into the current design of the new facility. By redesigning now, the Reserves will avoid having to change the layout of the maintenance footprint in the future after fully engaging with AIRSpeed.

“Now is the time to implement Lean principles into the current design,” said Massenburg. “It is important for center supervisors to attend Lean training to become proficient in the practices and process improvements before work-center design begins. By following Lean methodologies, you will increase efficiency, build capacity, prevent stovepipes and find that less workspace is required. Instead of letting the budget dictate the size of the building, we need to focus on the requirement and value to the NAE,” he said.

“We will work toward a leaner process,” said Lt. Dave Zundel, AIMD division officer. “We are focusing on the appropriate spaces and layout for modules and will work from there.”

Located at JRB Fort Worth is a “hush house” engine test cell facility which allows for continuous engine testing not impeded by time, weather or noise restraints. The hush house is multi-functional, supports squadrons’ morning flights and is capable of testing engines both on and off of the aircraft.

“One of the greatest benefits to the hush house is its reliability,” said Tom Cassidy, facilities test cell maintenance manager. “We receive a true reading after all tests because the facility is not impacted by the wind or any other external elements.”

Built using congressional funding, the hush house can test one engine every one and a half hours. The squadrons normally test 10-12 engines a month. Currently, the test cell is under capacity and could use more work.

“I am impressed with the cleanliness, newness and that the cell exists,” said Massenburg. “I am concerned about how the facility fits into the NAE scope and who realizes the test cell exists.] We need to determine if this facility fits into the potential operational needs of the NAE. It is crucial to ask ourselves what is the output we need from the entire NAE and not just one site or location,” continued Massenburg. “We need to Lean the NAE too, not just single nodes.”

Rear Adm. Mark Harnitchek, Naval Inventory Control Point (NAVICP) and NAVRIIP provider’s cross-functional team lead, reiterated the need to spread best business practices and cost-wise capabilities throughout Naval Aviation. “For instance, the Reserves at JRB Fort Worth have figured out how to support customers at other sites in a timely and efficient manner. This is something we want to improve in the active duty community,” said Harnitchek. “We must learn from each other and share our successes to improve readiness throughout the Enterprise.”

The JRB Fort Worth supply division experiences constraints due to delays in shipping, time to obtain security clearances for civilian personnel, and barriers with aviation depot level repairable funding channels. All of these components add time and frustration to achieving A-RFT.

The NAVRIIP leadership team learns about the Fleet’s “head-hurters” during each visit to a base or site. Because such improvements have been realized using TOC, the process improvement tool will be pushed to all AIMDs and MALs to standardize and modernize all processes as the NAVRIIP/AIRSpeed program evolves throughout Naval Aviation.

Massenburg noted, “after all of the AIMDs/MALS have been introduced to the AIRSpeed toolkit, then we will Lean by products. The new business model must focus on reducing the cost of doing business, instead of spending what they gave us to avoid losing the funding in the next year.”

“We are in the process of making Sailors and Marines responsible for cost,” said Harnitchek. “Our goal is to reduce cost by five percent in 2005 with the same mission as in 2004.”

“As a station and command, we fully support the NAVRIIP/AIRSpeed effort, and we are working together to decrease downtime. Our focus is on quality and achieving full mission capability,” said Escamilla.

For more information on NAVRIIP/AIRSpeed, link to, or call 301.757.1487.

Photos by PH2 (AW) Desiree Lester

Caption Photo 1: AD2 (AW) Hercules Mays completes the buildup of an GE F404-400 fan module in the AIMD module repair powerplants division.

Caption Photo 2: AD2 Allison Lawton, JRB Fort Worth, AIMD module repair powerplants division, applies the engine serial number to the high pressure compressor (HPC) module for easier visual identification.

Caption Photo 3: The hush house facility at JRB Fort Worth is used as an engine test cell. The hush house allows for continuous engine testing that is not impeded by time, weather or noise restraints.

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