AFMC air logistics centers garner Shingo Prize

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Strategic airlift directorate officials here are at the center of an ongoing effort to step up aircraft and parts production to support Air Mobility Command during the largest rotation of U.S. forces since World War II.  The effort is scheduled to last several months.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Sue Sapp)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFMCNS) -- Aircraft mechanics at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center complete programmed depot-level maintenance on a C-5 Galaxy. All three of Air Force Materiel Command's ALCs were awarded for their practical implementation of Lean Transformation practices at the annual Shingo Prize Public Sector Manufacturing Conference, held Oct. 3-7, in Norfolk, Va.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFMCNS) -- Industry leaders have recognized Air Force Materiel Command's three air logistics centers for their practical implementation of Lean Transformation practices - ensuring America's warfighters success on the job.

Lean is a methodology designed to create value, eliminate waste and allow an organization to adapt quickly to change.

The prestigious Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing, often referred to as the Nobel Prize of manufacturing, was awarded to Warner Robins ALC, Robins Air Force Base, Ga.; Ogden ALC, Hill AFB, Utah; and Oklahoma City ALC, Tinker AFB, Okla., at the annual Shingo Prize Public Sector Manufacturing Conference, held Oct. 3-7, in Norfolk, Va.

The Shingo Prize recognizes organizations which promote world-class manufacturing strategies and practices to achieve world-class results. Prior to 2005, the Shingo awards were limited to private-sector companies.

Gen. Bruce Carlson, AFMC commander, could not be more proud of the support his people are providing in the Global War on Terror.

"The great people of AFMC have been working long and hard to apply Lean principles to ensure our warfighers have everything they need, on time and on cost," he said. "These awards are recognition of the success of those tireless efforts."

Warner Robins ALC garnered the 2005 Shingo Prize Public Sector Gold award for its C-5 Programmed Depot Maintenance, or PDM. The center provides combat capability to the warfighter by servicing the Air Force's C-5 Galaxy inventory. The center is the first government industry to receive the gold-level honor.

"The mechanics' acceptance of Lean, and their help implementing it, has been the backbone of our success," said Greg Beecher, 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group Lean change manager. Additionally, he said the C-5 area was chosen for award consideration because of its Lean program maturity.

Warner-Robins began its C-5 Lean program in 2001, improving quality, reducing costs and decreasing delivery times. Since 2004, the program has provided 100 percent on-time delivery to its warfighting customers and increased the number of aircraft produced.

Both Ogden and Oklahoma City ALCs were named Shingo Prize Public Sector Silver Recipients.

Ogden received two silver awards: one for its F-16 Common Configuration Implementation Program, or CCIP, and another for its Commodities Branch Pylon Shop.

The CCIP is an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft modification shop, part of the center's 309th Maintenance Wing. Its Lean program focuses on structural and electrical improvements to extend the aircraft's service-life. The CCIP, which created the Air Force's first organic cellular flow line in 2004, has seen a 30 percent reduction in flow days and an 80 percent increase in defect-free aircraft.

Ogden's F-16 Pylon Shop services the warfighter by maintaining, overhauling and repairing wing-mounted fuel and weapons pylons on the service's fighter and attack/bomber aircraft. Its Lean processes reduced cycle time from 145 days to fewer than 18 days, enabling the shop to accept a new A-10 Thunderbolt II pylon workload. It continues to meet production with a 100 percent on-time delivery rate to its warfighting customers.

"After the initial growing pains associated with any type of major change, the entire organization recognized the advantages that resulted from all the hard work," said Tim Landureth, F-16 CCIP foreman. "The Shingo evaluation was a validation to ourselves and others that we were moving in the right direction."

Oklahoma City ALC earned its Shingo Prize by refurbishing its depot maintenance for the Air Force's KC-135 Stratotanker force. The 30,000 man-hour overhaul of the tanker's PDM streamlined the KC-135 process, improving quality, efficiency and safety. Within four years, KC-135 PDM flow time decreased by 52 percent and the number of aircraft at the depot decreased by 49 percent. The overhaul became a benchmark for Lean implementation throughout Tinker AFB.

"The Shingo Award has been called the Nobel Prize of Manufacturing and being recognized as a Public Sector Silver Recipient is a great recognition for the work our team has done," said Al Rich, 76th Maintenance Wing deputy director. "The continued process improvement here over the last five years is phenomenal."

The Shingo Prize, administered by Utah State University, in Logan, Utah, was established in 1988 to promote awareness of Lean manufacturing concepts and recognize companies in the United States, Canada, and Mexico that achieve world-class manufacturing status. The Shingo Prize philosophy is that world-class business performance may be achieved through focused improvements in core manufacturing and business processes.

The Shingo Prize is directed by a board of individuals who are leading representatives of businesses, professional organizations, and academic institutions.

The award is named for Japanese industrial engineer Shigeo Shingo who distinguished himself as one of the world's leading experts in improving manufacturing processes. Dr. Shingo has been described as an "engineering genius" who helped create and write about many aspects of the revolutionary manufacturing practices which comprise the renowned Toyota Production System.

(Editor's note: Lanorris Askew, 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs, G.A. Volb, Ogden ALC/PA and PRNewswire reports contributed to this article.)