By Lindsay Emery
\When PAE Contract Field Team-North Island program manager Katryn Lohlein worked to improve efficiency at the program’s Line Work Center with one of her quality assurance representatives, she didn’t know the idea would result in a time savings of 50 minutes per shift.
The Daily/Turnaround Cart developed by Lohlein’s team won a 2020 Kaizen award. The quarterly and annual Kaizen competitions highlight continuous improvement projects across PAE, Continuous Improvement Director John Bennett said.
“We do continuous improvement across PAE but we don’t always do a good job of advertising it outside of these programs, so the Kaizen competition is one of the way in which we try to broadcast CI to the entire organization and gets them interested in doing continuous improvement on their own,” Bennett said.
Lohlein’s team won in the 6S Management category, one of two Kaizen categories awarded this year. “6S” is a visual management tool for lean and efficient operations that promote high productivity. The “S”s stands for sort, set, shine, standardize, sustain, and safety. Since one of the heavily weighted categories for the competition is the amount of money saved, the nature of 6S Management projects made them less likely to break through and win an annual award, which is why we created a category for 6S/visual management, Continuous Improvement Director John Bennett said.
The idea of continuous improvement was new to Lohlein and her team when CFT-North became part of PAE through a contract win in November 2017, but the opportunity to take the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt course catapulted the team into creating projects that help everyday productions and maintenance.
At North Island, the team performs aviation maintenance, providing safe, flyable aircraft to execute the customer’s daily flight schedule involving the launch and recovery of aircraft, repair, maintenance and inspections, modification, overhaul, ALSS support, in-flight troubleshooting, adjustments and flight testing of aircraft. The D/TA cart condensed the checkout of 22 of 23 individual tools needed for inspections after flights into one cart. Instead of cluttering the tool log by using 22 separate lines per inspection, the cart only uses one line. This reduces the amount of time it takes to check out tools and eliminates the need to walk around the work center for each tool.
“The cart improves the efficiency of the process overall with the amount of time that’s saved, which allows for more production,” Lohlein said. “With a minimum of 50-minute savings, you’re perhaps able to add another aircraft into that production cycle because you’ve saved that amount of time.”
Prior to the adoption of the D/TA cart, it took nearly 30 minutes for all 23 tools to be retrieved from several different locations and manually checked out line-by-line on the tool log. The mobility of the cart also allows for workers to move from aircraft to aircraft by accounting for each tool on the cart.
In addition to the 50-minute savings per shift, an extra nine minutes is saved moving from aircraft to aircraft. Instead of having to check the tools back in after each aircraft inspection, workers can quickly verify the tools on the cart and continue to the next aircraft.
When the team submitted the project for consideration, the total savings and non-value-added time that was removed equated to approximately $48,000 over a nine-month period.
Lohlein and her team were ecstatic that their hard work and efforts were recognized by PAE’s Continuous Improvement department.
“I’ve heard from other program managers across the R&S [Readiness and Sustainment] program that are able to implement the cart at their site so there is an additional added feeling of contribution because now we’re not just helping ourselves, but also helping others who can take that idea and apply it to their sites as well,” Lohlein said.