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Southwest Research Institute provides Lean cost savings to A-10 program

San Antonio, Texas -- March 28, 2002 -- Lean Depot Repair (LDR) principles and techniques taught by Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®) staff could result in a savings of more than $5 million a year in the U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft modification program at the Ogden Air Logistics Center (ALC) at Hill AFB, Utah.

The cost savings are estimates and could be realized upon full implementation of the improvements described below.

SwRI helps clients optimize repair cycle time, reduce work-in-progress inventory, and eliminate parts shortages by applying Lean principles, which aim to eliminate practices that do not add value to the repair process. The Institute is under contract with the Ogden ALC to implement LDR in the Aircraft (OO-ALC/LA) and Electronics (OO-ALC/LE) Directorates.

The team of SwRI staff and OO-ALC/LA personnel led a Rapid Improvement Event (RIE), in which existing procedures were subjected to a concentrated analysis. That single event resulted in estimated annual savings of more than $650,000, as well as a 10-day reduction in flow days, or days an aircraft is out of service, by helping shop technicians get the tools, supplies, materials, and support services they need to focus directly on the aircraft rather than searching for tools, said Rod Cantu, Industrial Engineering Manager for the SwRI Automation and Data Systems Division. He explained that technicians were supplied with parts, kits, and consumables at the point of use to help reduce search time and improve the flow of materials.

One tool used was Value Stream Mapping and Analysis (VSM/A), where current procedures were charted so that non value-added activities that cost time and efficiency could be identified and then eliminated or streamlined.

"The significance of VSM/A is incredible," said Kevin Dellalucia, an A-10 program employee at Ogden ALC who participated in the RIE. "The VSM/A helped me and the RIE team visualize the waste in our processes. The methodology helps us focus on developing innovative solutions and process improvements to overcome these bottlenecks."

"Our goal is to take Lean to the next level, to include other organizations at the ALC that impact the value stream," Cantu said, referring to the entire repair process, from aircraft induction to delivery. Combined with earlier RIEs, annual savings to the A-10 program are projected at $5,055,360 per year with key leadership sustaining the new processes, according to Cantu.

Lt. Gen. Charles H. Coolidge Jr., Vice Commander, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, met with Ogden ALC officials and SwRI representatives on February 1. He said that incorporating Lean principles can help ALCs keep up with existing workloads and added that the Ogden ALC experience is an excellent example of partnering between the government and private industry.

For more information, contact Joe Fohn, Communications, at (210) 522-4630 or fax (210) 522-3547 at P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510.

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