Recent CPI successes make a home in CMXG

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
It works. 

That's the consensus on the process detailing how customer needs are being supported in shops across the 402nd Commodities Maintenance Group. 

It's known as Art of the Possible, which stems from a leadership model developed by Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, Air Force Sustainment Commander. The AFSC Way describes Art of the Possible as being about "reaching beyond today's limitations to grasp previously unimagined heights of performance," and challenging each other to "recognize opportunities, eliminate constraints, improve processes and optimize resources to achieve world-record results."

By expanding the vision of what is "truly possible and refusing to settle for marginal improvements," shops in the 402nd CMXG are now seeing improved productivity and efficiencies.  

One such success story is the F-15 Wing shop in the 572nd Commodities Maintenance Squadron.

From changing shop floor layout to giving nearby computer access, it's been proven that when given the right focus and tools, people can demonstrate remarkable achievements.

F-15 Wing Shop
The goal was to move an F-15 wing every 24 days, reducing the standard flow by about 10 workdays. About 54 wings are left to produce until the end of fiscal 2015. 

Before the new process was implemented, an average of seven wings were produced a month. This past January, 13 wings were produced, and in February, 15 wings.

"This is the most we've seen, especially in February with only 18 real work days with a holiday," said Stuart. "We turned a wing out almost every day." 

A cellular flow process had already been in place in the wing shop. Now called gates, it's been identified, through a process known as simulation modeling, how much time a particular wing needed to spend in a certain area. 

If the work wasn't completed in a gate or microgate, which identified daily standard work, then that wing did not move forward until it was met. This helps teams stay focused throughout a workweek so that by a day's end, they know if they've had 'a good day.' 

When a wing first arrives, it is de-paneled, which is a three-day process. Teardown involves taking the wing apart, removing plumbing and foam, followed by a process where sealant and debris is removed by a hydroblaster. 

At this point, non-destructive inspections are conducted to check for cracks. After another inspection, the wing is sent to a nearby fixture for three days for further work. Repairs are made down the line, ending with a build-up phase.

A simulation and modeling program captured data taking into account process flow, required hours of work to complete a job, shifts required, and other valuable information, giving management a workable solution that could be used on the production line. The 24-day flow was the result of this.

Simulation for example highlighted a problem area in one microgate which involved making sure parts were supportable. Aircraft wing models vary due to wear and tear. 

Compared to a year ago, business is different when walking the shop floor, manned by about 120 mechanics.

"We made major changes in daily standard work. We reflowed everything to make sure we had the right fit," said Ben Stuart, 572nd Wing Repair Flight director.

Electronic work control documents were also added. Computers were added to the floor for convenience for workers.  

Visual management has played a central role in documenting work responsibilities. In the wing shop, the entire layout of the floor can be seen on a nearby wall which pinpoints where a specific wing is located and what work is being done. 

Overall, each CMXG shop is given a visual reminder of where aircraft undergoing programmed depot maintenance are located throughout the complex. When an F-15 is about to enter the repair and build-up gate, this signals to CMXG that wings must be ready in time to support this customer's needs. 

The area, which houses the massive fixtures where wings are repaired, was reconfigured to allow for better space availability and movement of parts once completed. A center aisle was opened to allow for improved flow, and only wings that are supportable were brought in. 

"We're now better controlling the work-in-progress that comes into our process," he said. 

Go to any shop floor in CMXG and it's done the same way. 

Consistency is paramount within the AFSC leadership model. No matter which shop or base you're working at, the creation of a repeatable process ensures a production process will flow the same way, every time.  

"We see a huge improvement in morale with employee involvement," he said.