NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Two enlisted continuous process improvement (CPI) practitioners and two Fleet Readiness Centers (FRC) were each recognized with a Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) Excellence in CPI Award during the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) 2018 CPI Training Symposium held July 24-25.
Chief Petty Officer Timothy Thompson, a chief aviation electronics technician at FRC Mid-Atlantic Oceana, was awarded the Naval Aviation Enterprise AIRSpeed Leadership Award which recognizes an individual E-7 through O-3 or civilian equivalent who made significant personal contributions and demonstrated outstanding leadership to the overall readiness of Naval Aviation operating forces using CPI initiatives. Thompson, a black belt, was recognized for his work establishing time lines for 52 work centers and for re-establishing expeditious repair (EXREP) reviews for five FRC Mid-Atlantic sites that eliminated the EXREPs before they occurred.
Thompson attributed his success to working closely with Production Control (PC). “Working with them makes it easier to identify where CPI should be applied,” he said. “If you work with PC’s leadership, determining courses of actions becomes extremely simple. They typically will already know where the problem exists.”
Staff Sgt. Joseph Black, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron (MALS) 31’s AIRSpeed staff non-commissioned officer in charge, was awarded the NAE AIRSpeed Master Gunnery Sgt. John S. Evancho Innovator of the Year Award. The award is presented each year to an individual E-6 and below or civilian equivalent who demonstrated innovative thinking, inspirational leadership and outstanding performance in the field of CPI. Evancho was a plankowner of CPI in the NAE and one of the first to successfully apply CPI practices to Naval Aviation maintenance and supply processes. Black was recognized for nine CPI projects that resulted in a reduction of repair time for the F/A-18 Hornet M-61 gun system and a reduction in lost maintenance man-hours.
Black is proudest of the gun’s improved maintenance process because of the impact it had beyond a single work center. “We used all three methodologies—Lean, Theory of Constraints and Six Sigma and all of our resources to impact, on a program level, the way that MALS-31 repairs gun systems,” he said. “One year after the event, the results are more than we had estimated. The quality of life for the technicians is better because they are not working as hard as before to complete the same task.”
NAVAIR Deputy Commander Garry Newton and Deputy Commander for Fleet Readiness Centers and Director of Industrial Operations for Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0D) Martin Ahmad presented the awards at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center in California, Maryland.
Logistics and Industrial Operations Executive Director (AIR 6.0B) Capt. Timothy Pfannenstein, who emceed the presentation, described the initiative and drive of the winners as exemplary. “I believe anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it,” he said. “Nowhere is that more evident than with CPI practitioners. You make decisions, act on them and get results. The Navy and our organizations are better for that.”
Teamwork, Thompson said, is crucial to success. “I always tell my teams that if you can keep it simple and think outside the box, then we will succeed,” he said. “Without my AIRSpeed Core Team, along with my command leadership, none of our accomplishments would have been realized.”
Black agreed with Thompson on the importance of teamwork and advised CPI practitioners to engage all of a process’ stakeholders. “Build stable teams and brainstorm with those that perform the job on a daily basis. Mentor each other regardless of rank. I learned as much from junior Marines as I did from my peers and seniors. The more ideas, the better,” he advised.
Serving as a link to leadership is also important, he said. “Be the change agent in your organization and ally yourself with other change agents because that is how you truly make a difference.”
Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) Southwest Detachment Point Mugu, California, and FRC East (FRCE), North Carolina, were selected as the 2017 Enterprise AIRSpeed Level 2 Site of the Year and Level 3 Site of the Year, respectively.
Point Mugu was recognized for its work in Avionics on reducing a weapon system’s battery charging time, improving contractor and Sailor operations. During the same award period, Point Mugu standardized its Tire Wheel Shop that saved the Navy more than $200,000 in maintenance costs.
FRCE showed a commitment to CPI by engaging its entire workforce to make improvements. “Its FRC East Teams created a collaborative culture of cross-functional thinking that inspired trust and improved process efficiency not only at the command but across the NAE, Fleet Readiness Centers and the Department of Defense,” according to the award citation.
Thompson, who has 13 years in the Navy, plans to continue serving where he can grow other CPI practitioners.
“My favorite part of CPI is teaching future green belts. In each class, there are one maybe two that pursue CPI and go on to have a great impact on their commands,” Thompson said. “Those are the ones that keep me motivated.”
Black, who is transitioning to another assignment, advised his colleagues to let the data lead them to the right improvements. “Don’t over think it,” he said. “Some of the greatest solutions are the easiest.”