Workers behind Shingo Gold

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. (AFMCNS) -- When the Lean journey began for the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, few put much stock in where it would lead. Nearly four years later it has become a layman's term synonymous with success and, most recently, excellence in manufacturing.

Last week Maj. Gen. Mike Collings, center commander, announced to the C-5 Programmed Depot Maintenance work force their hard work had paid off in their bid for the much coveted Shingo Prize. The center became one of the first-ever public industries to receive the prestigious Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing and the first government industry to receive the gold level honor.

The Shingo Prize was established in 1988, and promotes Lean manufacturing concept awareness and recognizes companies that achieve world-class manufacturing status. It was opened to the public sector for the first time this year with four levels of recognition including platinum, gold, silver and bronze.

Greg Beecher, 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group Lean change manager, attributes the win to the hard work of the mechanics.

"The mechanics' acceptance of Lean and their help implementing it has been the backbone of our success; this is an entire team award," he said. "The mechanics and supervisors, the 402nd Commodities Maintenance Group, Maintenance Support Group and other areas on base from Engineering to Personnel to Environmental all helped in winning this award."

Mr. Beecher said the C-5 area was chosen by the center commander's executive council because of the maturity of its Lean program and because it shows the breadth of Lean at Robins.

Some of the key accomplishments listed in the 100-page achievement report submitted to the Shingo Prize committee earlier this year included 100 percent on-time delivery in fiscal 2004, up from only 25 percent in fiscal 2001, and an average flow day reduction from 339 in fiscal 2001 to 234 in 2004.

While the entire team is proud of the accomplishment, Mr. Beecher said they won't rest on their laurels.

"Lean isn't a destination, it's a journey," he said. "We won gold, but there's still platinum out there. While it's humbling for our peers to recognize us, we know there's still work to do."

DeDe Stone, 402nd MXW Process Improvement Section chief, said the only way to follow this performance is by continuing to implement and sustain the process improvements. "They've worked extremely hard to improve their processes and to make the C-5 a world-class organization," she said. "There were many months and many long hours involved with the preparation of the package and in preparation for the site visit. I was pleasantly surprised because it was the first year for this award, and we didn't know what to expect."

The Shingo Prize is named in honor of the late Dr. Shigeo Shingo who helped create, train and write about many aspects of the renowned Toyota Production System and related production systems.