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Southwest Research Institute to bring "lean" principles to military depots

San Antonio, Texas -- November 22 , 1999 -- Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) has been awarded a $5.7 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to provide consulting services leading to money-saving "lean" operations at military repair depots such as that at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center (WR-ALC), Robins AFB, Georgia.

The five-year program, entitled Lean Depot Repair (LDR), optimizes repair cycle time, reduces work-in-process inventory, and eliminates parts shortages through the "lean" manufacturing concept, which aims to reduce practices that don't add value to a product or process.

Kurt Reynertson, a principal engineer in SwRI's Manufacturing Systems Department and a project manager for LDR, said that after an SwRI team mapped and analyzed a single depot repair operation involving F-15 aircraft avionics, a joint team involving SwRI and government personnel was able to reduce the work-in-process inventory, with anticipated reductions in the repair cycle time once Lean implementation has progressed within this area.

The streamlined process will not only save the Air Force money but also will help make the weapon systems under repair more mission-capable, said Reynertson. "That's the ultimate value, not only to the warfighter but also to the taxpayer," he explained. 

Depot repairs cost the Air Force in excess of $50 billion annually, said Reynertson. Between tight defense budgets and increasing operational readiness requirements, "This action is appropriate and timely," he said.

For more information about the Ion and Electron Spectrometer, Joe Fohn, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas, 78228-0510, Phone (210) 522-4630, Fax (210) 522-3547.

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