Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) hosted a group of Finnish Air Force officers and Patria Aviation managers May 27-28 for briefings on continuous improvement techniques and tools used on the F/A-18 Hornet production line and F404 engine shop.
The group visited the depot to gain a better understanding of adopted FRCSE Lean methodologies for F/A-18 planned maintenance intervals including visual management (scoreboards, target setting for daily work), flow and value stream (elimination of wastes) and production management (process pace).
The Finnish Air Force has been flying the F/A-18C/D Hornets since 1995, which are currently in the middle of their projected lifecycle.
“We discussed how FRCSE integrates the Franklin Covey 4 Disciplines of Execution ™ into our everyday work processes,” said AIRSpeed Program Analyst Keith Probert. “They [Finnish] are finding some of the same issues that we are finding during planned maintenance intervals. We showed them how we analyze the F/A-18 programs from materials to manufacturing new parts in our machine shop that the original equipment manufacturer no longer makes.”
“They were very excited to see what we are doing at the depot and how we implement Green and Black Belt training to look at different areas and operations,” he added.
After touring the F/A-18 Hornet center barrel line, where artisans replace the main load-bearing structure to extend the service life of the aircraft, the group headed to the Crinkley Engine Facility for a briefing by FRCSE Industrial Engines Division F404 Program Manager Mary Rehfeldt.
“I covered how the F404 engine shop set up a ‘supermarket’ for parts, the layouts of the old and current shop, rotor and accessory gearbox load out carts, blade cell design and our two-bin design,” said Rehfeldt. “I also discussed Green Belt projects on the fan rotor, high-pressure compressor rotor, low-pressure turbine rotor, and the preservation area.”
Rehfeldt also stressed the importance of customer service and catering to the client’s needs. “I educated them on the various F404 customers we work with including the U.S. military, Foreign Military Sales Program and domestic customers, and the repair and overhaul requirements that we must comply with. I also discussed how continuous improvement allows seamless transitions between the workscopes.”
During a tour of the F404 engine shop, Rehfeldt explained how engines and components are ordered, how they flow through the supply system and how FRCSE receives them for repair. Further, she discussed TAKT time which sets the pace for industrial manufacturing lines so production cycle times can be matched to customer demand rate, as well as visual management initiatives and other all facets of how the shop has been a premier example of Lean and Six Sigma implementation at FRCSE since 2002.
“I informed the group of how we have sustained that effort and the excellent ideas our artisans come up with to enhance production capabilities and their willingness to share information and ideas,” she said.
The group visited the various engine repair divisions, the FRCSE fuel and accessories building and the Kemen Engine Test Facility to learn all aspects of operations at the military depot.
“We came to FRCSE to learn benchmark and lean processes implemented here with the F404 engines,” said Lt. Col. Juha-Mattie Ylitalo, chief of aircraft division, Finnish Air Force Materiel Command. “The Finnish Air Force and Patria maintain long-term strategies to sustain the Finnish Air Force aircraft. After many decades, we are now in the process of trying to find solutions to operate and sustain our F/A-18 fleet through more affordable means using less taxpayer money for the last 10-15 years of flying the F/A-18 Hornet. We came to FRCSE to learn benchmark and lean processes implemented here with the F404 engines.”
“The Finnish Air Force and Patria are just beginning their Lean journey and were excited to learn how we have been so successful at it with the F404 program for 12 years,” said Rehfeldt. “They are constrained by budgetary restrictions as is the U.S. Navy and will be implementing Lean and Theory of Constraints practices to enhance and expand their overhaul capabilities.”
Source / Author: NAVAIR