TEES lab receives $2.3 million Army contract for lean manufacturing initiatives
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- A Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) laboratory at Brooks City-Base in San Antonio has received $2.3 million from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command to support lean manufacturing initiatives at the Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD). The Aerospace, Manufacturing and Systems Engineering Division (AMSED) in TEES's Texas Center for Applied Technology received the contract for the project. Leading the work will be Dr. John Ayala, AMSED director and chairman of the Academic Center for Aging Aircraft, and Bessie M. Irizarry, manufacturing operations manager. Other strategic team members include Assistant Manager Thomas Sandoval; Harry Whiting, who will manage the daily operations at CCAD; and James P. "Pat" Wallace, program manager for the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and regional director for the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center, will be senior adviser for lean manufacturing. Lean manufacturing (also called the Toyota Production System) works to increase competitiveness by reducing waste in processes, Ayala said. The process focuses on decreasing the cost required to make a product or offer a service; increasing the value to customers based on what the customers want; and shortening the time it takes to get the product or service to customers, all without compromising safety or increasing effort on the part of the workers. CCAD is a U.S. Department of Defense Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence for Rotary Wing Aviation Maintenance. Among its activities are overhauling and repairing helicopters, engines and components for all service and foreign military sales, and training active duty Army, National Guard, Reserve and foreign military personnel. AMSED's research includes lean analyses, lean facilitation and standardization of maintenance processes for the military's helicopters. Ayala said that by developing method improvements and applying ergonomics, AMSED can increase depot efficiency and better prepare the helicopters for combat, which in turn saves time and increases productivity and safety. "Due to the need for combat helicopters in wartime, reducing turnaround time for repair and scheduled maintenance is a sensitive issue within the U.S. Department of Defense," Ayala said. AMSED works closely with the CCAD Lean Office in gathering data and preparing for the events beforehand and by preparing a method improvement presentation for the events. AMSED staff analyzes routing, processing and assembly of helicopter parts and components, and provide the current process flow for lean events. Work standards are still used to validate and quantify the improvement to the process. AMSED assists the CCAD Lean Office in implementing and supporting lean manufacturing throughout the depot. CCAD brought in AMSED staff in 2001 to help develop its methods and standards program, which provides for the development of time and staffing standards; promotes increased efficiency and economy; supplies current and reliable reference data; and gives input to the production reporting system. In 2003 CCAD introduced lean manufacturing into the Blackhawk Recapitalization Program, and AMSED was soon integrated into the Lean Office at CCAD. This marks AMSED's fifth year of work with CCAD, Ayala said. The contract supports 28 full-time employees on-site at CCAD and three other researchers in College Station and San Antonio. Most on-site personnel are Six Sigma Green Belt-certified with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering.