WR-ALC initiatives: Improving performance and reputation

  • Published
  • By Kendahl Johnson
  • 78 ABW/PA

When it comes to warfighter support at Robins, one of the most visible aspects is performance - the quality and timeliness of the aircraft, commodities, software and electronics that are produced here. Improving that performance has become one of several key initiatives aimed at not only enhancing support but also boosting the base's reputation.

"The products we deliver to the warfighter are what determine our reputation as a center, so improving performance is essential," said Brig. Gen. Lee Levy, 402nd Maintenance Wing commander. "It presents daunting challenges and it will never be perfect, but we want to make sure our performance is as strong as it can possibly be."

He said improving performance - which is one of senior leaders' five long-term initiatives - is a strategic effort. It's about looking at where the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center is now and determining a plan of action to get to where leadership wants it to be years from now.

"Our job is to deliver better air power, faster and cheaper," he said. "We are taking the tenants of AFSO21 and always asking, 'how can I do what I do better?' We want to constantly deliver our components quicker than we did the year before, while looking for ways to reduce cost and save taxpayers' money. That's the mantra of continual process improvement."

The general said efforts to improve performance are already under way. Management held a week-long value stream mapping session to help identify areas that could be streamlined to improve the effectiveness of C-5 Galaxy program depot maintenance. They've also implemented High Velocity Maintenance, a new and dramatic method of program depot maintenance aimed at reducing aircraft downtime.

In addition, employees here have responded well to attempts to engage the workforce, improve communication, and more closely integrate the workforce. But, he said, it's important to have patience with change, as it's a process that will take time.

"Improving performance is not a speedy process and anyone who thinks it is, is expecting magic in a bottle," he said. "To make our processes a little healthier will take a bit of time. It's not about this month or six months from now, or even a year from now. It's about years from now."

Leadership knows that having realistic expectations is important; otherwise, people will get discouraged and become unmotivated. Levy said keeping people happy and motivated works hand in hand with improving performance.

"The airplanes and commodities don't fix themselves," the commander said. "They rely on well trained, well motivated people who are well nurtured and cared for."

He cited the Voluntary Protection Program as one program that is very helpful in improving performance. He said at a very simplistic level, the program promotes workplace safety and aids in leadership's efforts to reduce injuries.

"If people aren't getting hurt at work, it means they are available to work," the commander said. "If they are not in our work centers and they aren't delivering anything, they certainly aren't improving our performance. Reducing injuries and keeping people healthy and safe translates to a better performance because we will have more folks in the shop all pulling on the same end of the rope together."

He added that VPP is more than a safety initiative; it's also a people initiative.

"It's not just about employees working to find safer ways of operating in the workplace, but it gets that dialogue going," the general said. "We start asking, 'how can we do better - not just safer but better? VPP helps get the workforce and management more engaged, and that's never a bad thing."

Levy said VPP also ties very well to the wingman culture - the idea of everyone looking out for the welfare and well-being of coworkers.

"If we feel a sense of responsibility for each other's safety in the workplace, then we will become closer as co-workers and have a more empathetic approach toward being a good wingman both on and off duty," General Levy said. "That's important not just from a safety perspective, but also from a health and wellness perspective and from a suicide prevention perspective."

There are many different organizations involved in enhancing performance, from the Maintenance Wing to the 330th Aircraft Sustainment Wing, the Global Logistics Support Center, the Defense Logistics Agency, the 78th Air Base Wing and others, and Levy said improvement requires all partners working together. He's proud of the direction the Center is heading.

"We are going to keep improving and will continue to keep Robins a gem in the AFMC crown of the air logistics center system," he said.