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Navy newsstand (March 16, 2006): GW tests AIRSpeed program.

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea -- USS George Washington (CVN 73) sailors are putting the latest concepts of Aviation Maintenance and logistics into practice on a daily basis, through a chief of naval operations-mandated concept known as AIRSpeed.

GW was selected in November 2004 to become the lead platform for testing AIRSpeed on a sea-based platform, which includes research, testing, and implementation of the program.

AIRSpeed is a set of management tools used to analyze current processes in order to reduce cost and increase efficiency. To do this, sailors are trained to apply the AIRSpeed management tools to look for inefficiencies and reduce waste.

The ultimate goal is to understand business practices and the business of running the Navy and to decrease costs where possible.

"AIRSpeed actually started on the naval air side of the house in shore facilities," said Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW/SW) James Prince, AIRSpeed leading chief petty officer. "We look at the day-to-day process of how we actually accomplish our goals. This is the first time we are actually bringing it afloat."

According to GW's maintenance officer, Cmdr. Charlie Chan, GW was selected because of initiatives made by the ship.

"We were thinking way ahead of everybody else," Chan said. "We were sending our people through schools. Having an AIRSpeed team on board means your people have to be trained, and they have to understand it."

The implementation of AIRSpeed took almost four years throughout the shore-based Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Depot (AIMD) community. The time frame for sea-based implementation throughout the fleet is a little longer.

The areas being studied are ones that could reduce readiness, including avionics repair, power plants, engine overhaul, and GSE inventory.

"George Washington is tasked with a portion of the design," Prince explained. "We are going to start the design. After we complete our portion of it, we will do a handoff with another carrier."

And that carrier is USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). After GW develops the initial blueprint for the program at sea, Stennis will implement the program and improve upon it before other carriers begin implementation.

Currently, GW is doing a series of value stream analyses to develop the design.

"GW is in the beginning stages of value stream analysis," said Lt. Jim Gault, Sea Control Squadron (VS)22 assistant maintenance officer, "where they are breaking down their processes, looking for waste areas, and identifying which processes add value and which don't."

Two major concepts within AIRSpeed are Lean and Six Sigma. Lean eliminates or reduces unnecessary processes, and Six Sigma aids in focused process analysis.

An example of how these concepts have worked ashore is an AIMD Mayport success story. According to Gault, this AIMD was able to reduce the usual 35 days it took to repair an engine to 14.

"The idea is to repair the right thing at the right time at the right cost," Gault added.

GW's success story so far is the calibration lab and the 15,000 pieces of equipment shipwide that must routinely be calibrated.

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"By 'leaning' it out, leaning the fat, identifying the constraints out there, we have improved our services--our turnaround time," Chan explained. "We will make a lot of positive impact and reduce the number of petty officers from each department that have to tackle the calibration equipment."

Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class (AW/SW) Christian Hansen, who has helped implement the AIRSpeed program ashore, is aboard GW as a technical assistant. He explained that one of the purposes of the program was getting everyone to work better as one team.

"The depot levels, the intermediate levels, the organizational levels, the supply side of the house," Hansen said. "Get everybody to work as one team, just like a regular business would be. Incorporating AIRSpeed into the Navy, making it more like a business, saving money, time, and manhours."

The bottom line, according to Hansen, is to utilize resources better, to get better organized, and to be more efficient.

"We must prioritize what work needs to be done," Chan said. "Cost-wise readiness is the key here, not readiness at any cost."

The impact of the program on average sailors is to help them better understand what their job is and to help them do that job more efficiently.

"Most businesses do not understand all the steps in their processes, and this leads to waste that you are unaware of," Prince added. "If you can identify all of the steps in your process, you can remove waste, which ultimately will give the sailor more time to do what he or she wants to do."

Perron serves with USS George Washington Public Affairs.

Journalist 1st Class Rebecca Perron, USN
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Title Annotation:George Washington'
Author:Perron, Rebecca
Publication:Defense AT & L
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:781
Previous Article:American Forces Press Service (March 14, 2006): "jointness" becomes key focus in developing military capability.
Next Article:Department of Defense news release (March 16, 2006): fiscal year 2006 Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations and Joint Capability Technology...
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