Fleet Readiness Center Southeast’s Vertical Lift Product Line wins 2021 NAVAIR Commander's Award
Fleet Readiness Center Southeast's (FRCSE) Vertical Lift (VL) Production Line was recently recognized with the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Commander's Award for Best Performing Production Line in the Quality Focus category.
Recipients were selected from among 81 exemplary teams and individuals across the enterprise. Awards spanned ten categories, which align with NAVAIR's focus areas: affordability, availability and capability speed.
"You are being recognized for delivering capability with greater speed, while improving readiness, availability and affordability," said NAVAIR Deputy Commander Tom Rudowsky. "You are leading by example and reinforcing the behaviors that are the building blocks for a winning NAVAIR culture. You're showing all of us how to get real and get better. I am inspired by your accomplishments and confident you will continue to do great things."
In early 2021, top leadership from the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) challenged the FRCSE VL team to return aircraft to the warfighter faster than ever before. The emphasis was on cost, schedule and performance for Planned Maintenance Intervals (PMIs), and the VL team delivered a huge turnaround time reduction of approximately 16 percent with zero deficiencies on Aircraft Inspection Discrepancy Reports (AIDR) and closed out the year at $3.1 million under budget.
"The team established a new aircraft production line benchmark with an overall cost savings from 2020 to 2021 of $4.4 million," said Veronica Amato, FRCSE's Production Director. "A huge feat considering not just the reduced turnaround time and zero deficiency AIDRs, but also various lingering constraints due to COVID-19. That's why we submitted the award package. The achievements from the folks in Vertical Lift were too outstanding not to garner recognition."
For VL Production Line aircraft, PMIs are separated into PMI-1N and PMI-2N - the primary difference being that PMI-2N includes the painting process, which adds approximately a week to the timeline. The NAE requested a new PMI-1N goal of 120 days from 142 and a PMI-2N goal of 135 days from 161.
"At the height of the pandemic, we were tasked with reducing TATs by 20 days or more. We knew we needed to dive deep into our processes, hone skills and engage the artisans," said Bruce Mobley, FRCSE's Vertical Lift Production Line Director, now retired. "Also, considering we have two [VL production line] locations, one at Naval Air Station Jacksonville and one at Naval Station Mayport, we had specific challenges related to each site. It was well-known that Jacksonville had more personnel, closer oversight and proximity to resources, but site Mayport showed considerable heart, and that's how we were able to make the pieces work together so well."
To tackle the new goals, the VL folks reached out to the Production Operations and AIRSpeed branch to help increase efficiency using things like the 5S Scorecard and project management tools like Concerto and Pipeline. They created detailed Work in Process (WIP) analysis to find the ideal pace and process for each maintenance phase, including pre-strip, disassembly, examination and evaluation, airframe repair, final assembly and ground/flight check.
Each day the VL team monitored the implementation of these tools and techniques via meetings in the Production Control Center (PCC), a Naval Sustainment System (NSS) concept designed to better track maintenance and mitigate barriers at the lowest level. The daily meetings ensured accountability and confirmed that the tools and objectives were being utilized to their fullest potential – ensuring full integration, optimum flow and minimal delays.
"Accountability was huge, and we were always strategic in our operations," said Mobley. "We checked in every day to be certain people were where they needed to be and focused on specific tasks. Success is bred from people, but NSS certainly gave us the tools we needed to succeed."
Abiding by the tenants of NSS and various other continuous process improvement efforts, leadership confirmed that artisans were getting the direct support needed for high-quality workmanship each day. Methodologies like The 4 Disciplines of Execution, helped an already dedicated team flourish by utilizing ideas like Wildly Important Goals (WIGs) to increase quality, lower internal costs and reduce defective work hours by 47 percent.
"Our Vertical Lift team is the best in the business," said FRCSE's Commanding Officer, Captain Grady Duffey. "They've demonstrated tireless efforts to meet the Fleet's demand signal by significantly reducing the turnaround time and overall cost of PMIs with zero discrepancies. The team's commitment to excellence has earned them this distinguished award. They've set a new standard for all of us here at FRC Southeast."
FRCSE representatives from the VL team accepted their accolades at a small gathering in Patuxent River on April 20.
About Fleet Readiness Center Southeast
Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) is Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia's largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, employing approximately 5,000 civilian, military and contract workers. With annual revenue exceeding $1 billion, the organization serves as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy, Naval Air Systems Command, and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers by maintaining the combat airpower for America's military forces.