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MCA garners ‘Fox’ award

By Art Powell | | May 21, 2009

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Maintenance Center Albany has been honored with the Robert E. Fox Award for outstanding achievement of continuous process improvements at the facility since 2000. The award was presented May 15 at the Continuous Process Improvement Symposiums held at Weber State College in Ogden, Utah.

“The dedication of the many civilian-Marines and Marines of MCA shines through every day.  What makes this place and these people special is that they don’t do what they do for the recognition.  They work hard because they have absolutely no doubt who it is they are supporting,” said Col. Daniel J. Gillan, commander, MCA. “Receiving the Fox Award just confirms that we are doing something right.”

Continuous Process Improvement innovation awards are designed to recognize not only the successful implementation of cutting-edge applications, but also doing so with a systemic-holistic approach, utilizing an integrated approach of Theory of Constraints, Lean, Six Sigma, and others. 

During the Utah Symposium, two types of organizations were recognized. MCA was selected as the winner in public sector entries, the other winner was a private sector organization.

“This is a great honor for Maintenance Center Albany. We were honored for continuous process improvement and sustained improvement,” said Darren Jones, manager, Production Management Department and Trades Department, MCA. “It’s taken every employee in the Maintenance Center, for several years now, to help us institutionalize the improvement processes we put into place with TOC and the Lean 6S processes. Now we’re beginning to work with our Six Sigma processes.”

MCA, using a track record spanning the years since 2001, competed against all similar organizations in the U.S. government.

“We began using the TOC in 2001 and achieved full implementation by approximately 2003. But it’s a continuous process. So, every new product line you bring on or when you make changes in a line or change the scope of work, there are always changes to how you plan that work. It always changes what may become the constraint within that whole facility or a constraint within a certain element of the process,” Jones explained. “It’s an ever-evolving process, something that you never complete. You’re always looking at what the next constraint might be so you can resolve that constraint so you can continue to improve and increase your throughput.”

MCA, which works on over 450 different production lines, first began TOC on an under performing line.

It was behind schedule, over cost and its Repair Cycle Time was averaging 167 days.  With TOC, throughput increased immediately: a 100 percent increase within three months and a 200 percent increase in six months.  During that time, RCT was reduced by 65 percent. The efforts meant cost per unit dropped to within the original negotiated cost estimates or lower. 

As MCA implemented TOC on each production line, similar results were obtained, throughput increased, RCTs dropped along with costs.

The overall financial status of MCA improved, rates declined, and the budgeted goals were met and exceeded for net operating results each year from 2002-2008.

“We began the Lean 6S implementation just after our TOC implementation, in 2002. It’s a never ending process. The 6S stand for straighten, sort, shine (scrub), standardize, sustain and safety. Each of these activities are conducted in every shop. Lean 6S was implemented in a manner to compliment our TOC implementation and success,” said Jones.

MCA is training managers and other key personnel as Lean Six Sigma Green Belts, a second level certification, in order to compliment TOC and to enhance continuous process improvement in the future.

A key component of any process improvement is the workforce involved in implementing it daily, and MCA’s results show that has happened there.

The biggest thing I’ve seen, the thing that meant the most to me, was the attitude of the workforce on the MCA floor,” said Bert Black, program analyst, TOC, MCA. One problem for the workforce, before TOC, was the amount of time between tasks, or receiving parts or receiving new parts. Now, with TOC the parts kits are planned and are waiting for the mechanic when he’s ready to begin performing a task.”

These steps make the day go quicker and it’s a more satisfying work day for a blue-collar worker, according to Black.

“People may be resistant to change, but they’re not resistant to improvement,” he added.


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