Shadowboxing for Success: McAllen CBP Site Wins Quarterly Kaizen Competition

By Kerry McGinley

With a fresh coat of paint, shadowbox details and an eye for continuous improvement, Adam Skretta earned a delighted customer and a check for $5,000. 

Skretta, site manager for the McAllen, Texas, Customs and Border Protection aircraft maintenance contract, worked with Brian Schock, senior business manager for the CBP program, to produce an award-winning submission for PAE’s second quarterly Kaizen competition.

“There was a big program-wide push to implement visual management and Lean Six Sigma,” Schock said. “Adam really took the ball and ran with it and did all the work in that project.”

As part of its ongoing commitment to continuous improvement, PAE holds quarterly contests to recognize the best process improvement submission. Employees are invited to compete for the top prize -- $5,000. They can also vie for the year-end prize of $10,000.

The McAllen hangar was typically packed with equipment and aircraft awaiting maintenance, he said. That led to trip hazards, time wasted searching for tools and a cluttered environment. Following Lean Six Sigma training for managers, Skretta and Schock came up with a plan to improve the site’s efficiency.

“We all saw the need (for standardizing the workplace),” Skretta said. “I guess having that training nailed down the process. It was reaffirming for us.”

The team emptied the hangar, repainted floors and laid down tape to outline where various work components, tools and aircraft should go according to 6S principles. 

“6S is a visual management tool that arranges the workspace in a way in which anyone can see conformity from nonconformity,” said John Bennett, director of Continuous Improvement. “6S stands for sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain and safety.”

The impact was immediate and obvious, Bennett said. 

“They had a text book implementation of 6S that impressed the customer so much that they are bringing in other directors from throughout CBP to that site as an example of success,” he said. 

A lean workplace creates greater productivity, he said. Schock said that increased output eventually translates to greater profit. The customer grades PAE on operational readiness, Schock said. 

“If we’ve got 200 aircraft, they want to know how many can fly,” he said. “We get a fee portion based on how much of the aircraft is up on average. At the McAllen site, we’ve seen a 10 percent increase in readiness of aircraft.”

The client was impressed with the changes in the workplace, Schock said. The agency’s leadership now plans to implement similar changes in Miami and Houston.