F-15 production machine forges ahead

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
It took about six months to clear a backorder of 48 F-15 ramps. By working together as a team, the process in fact sped up as the shop defined its own goal of producing 20 ramps per month in order to clear out that backorder.  

"That's a big achievement for us. Embracing Art of the Possible has helped us to reach that goal," said Amanda Foster, F-15 Ramp Shop production supervisor. 

The shop, tucked away inside the cavernous Bldg. 140, currently has a crew of 12 mechanics, almost half the number it began with months ago. 

Still the production machine forged ahead. 

Left and right ramps aid with air intake on a jet engine. They are overhauled in an 11-day flow process. 

Four gates include teardown and inspections; build-up; sealant application; and final inspections.  

Repairs are identified first by thorough non-destructive inspection techniques. 

At that stage parts are ordered, so once build-up begins there's no waiting and work continues.              

Art of the Possible has been met with the goal of maintaining the culture that led them to this most recent success, according to Foster.  

After all, the important keys to achieving that success - according to Air Force Sustainment Center Commander Gen. Bruce Litchfield's electronic book by the same name - include: effectively leading, building an organizational team that believes and the methods it takes to reach 'Road to' goals; effectively influencing and developing a circle of networks across the enterprise needed for success; and effectively executing continuous process improvement, which requires a disciplined approach to reacting to data and focusing the organization.  

How does this idea translate to the shop floor?  

"Mechanics feel more responsible," said Foster. "The flow process is better. Anytime we have any constraints, or obstacles, they are identified by ownership and all parties are held accountable. Therefore, turnover occurs in a shorter period of time and customer demands are met on a more consistent monthly basis." 

Matt Baker, 572nd CMMXS sheet metal mechanic, agreed.  

"There's more accountability," he said. "Even the paperwork has changed, covering everything that needs to be done. You are more accountable for what you work." 

Teamwork is paramount.
"While everyone has their own way of how things are done, people put all of that aside in order to achieve monthly production goals," said Foster. "They own the process now." 

In contrast to the old way of doing business, one worker would stay with a ramp through each of the four gates from teardown to final inspection. Now the asset moves down the production line, instead of the worker, further increasing productivity. 

"No matter what obstacles have been thrown at us, we haven't missed a beat. The way we do things now will stay because it works," she said.