Sunday, September 15, 2013
US Navy and Lean Manufacturing
This week’s topic is about Lean Manufacturing and Total Quality Management. These process improvement practices have been adopted in many industries such as auto manufacturing, the health industry, the aviation industry but more specifically the U.S defensive industry. The United States Navy Shipyard located in Kittery, Main, has adopted the ideology of lean manufacturing in order to improve the process of repairing submarines. Being able to repair these nuclear-powered submarines efficiently and effectively allows the nation’s defense to maintain their readiness.
By implementing lean manufacturing, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard can usually deliver the submarine back to the Fleet in 11 months, opposed to the usual 13 months. A consulting firm known as, Manufacturing Extension Partnership Management Services, Inc., was brought in to evaluate their value stream at the Shipyard. Through their observations the consulting firm was able to “… reduce waste and inventories, clear shop floors, and streamline production processes.”
The unique aspect of applying lean manufacturing to the process of repairing the submarines is not about the submarine as a product. What is challenging is that each submarine has thousands of pieces and parts that are all apart of complex tasks. Also, being able to train all 4,300 Shipyard employees in lean manufacturing adds another layer of complexity to the process. The Shipyard has saved money and time just by identifying unnecessary and duplicate steps in the process.
The article never stated how much money the U.S. Navy has saved thus far with lean manufacturing but I hope they are well on their way to billions of dollars in savings. These methodologies will definitely help prevent more debt to be incurred by the US. Is the Army adopting any process improvement methodologies? Does the US Defensive Industry as a whole utilize the same supply chains?