402nd EMXG aims for Shingo Prize Published March 27, 2009 By Wayne Crenshaw 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The 402nd Electronics Maintenance Group is under consideration for one of the most coveted awards for manufacturing excellence, The Shingo Prize. A team from The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence visited the 402nd EMXG on Monday and Tuesday to gauge how well the group is following Shingo principles, which are related to efficiency and excellence. Steve Arflin, the 402nd EMXG change manager, said the Shingo visit is a test of how well the group is applying the principles of Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, more commonly referred to as AFSO21. "They want to see your continuous process improvements," Mr. Arflin said. "It is basically judging how well you use AFSO21." Although the group is not specifically concerned with AFSO21, Mr. Arflin said the Lean concepts are much the same as the principles behind Shingo. The prize levels are bronze, silver and The Shingo Prize. It's a non-competitive award in that organizations are not going up against other organizations, but are instead trying to meet the high standards of the award. Last year seven organizations worldwide won The Shingo Prize, according to Steven von Niederhausern, director of marketing for The Shingo Prize. He expects fewer recipients this year because the standards for winning the award have changed. "We've raised the bar considerably," he said. Mr. Arflin said he is hopeful the 402nd EMXG will take the top prize. The group works on avionics for aircraft throughout the Air Force and in other military branches. "I think we are going to show them things that they have never seen," he said prior to the visit. "I think we are going to do well." The Shingo Prize was referred to by Business Week magazine as "the Nobel Prize of manufacturing." It is named after Japanese industrial engineer Shigeo Shingo, who helped create many of the aspects of the Toyota Production System. The Shingo Prize is administered by Utah State University School of Business. The 402nd EMXG team was expecting to learn within two weeks of the visit whether it would be getting the award. The honor would be presented at the Shingo Prize Annual Conference in Nashville. Mr. Arflin said the 402nd EMXG submitted a 100-page application detailing how the group follows Shingo principles. The site visit this week, he said, was to confirm the information in the application. Mr. Arflin said the 402nd EMXG is the only Air Force entrant for the award.