December 9, 2004 (by Dr. Chalon Keller) - When Hill maintainers begin modifying about 45 F-16s from Misawa Air Base, Japan, shortly, it will mark another step in the Ogden Air Logistics Center's Lean journey, according to base officials.
Officials say that over the past six months, the Aircraft Division's F-16 Branch took a close look at the modification process value-stream. Then, using Lean techniques, transformed the modification process into a one-piece "flow" operation.
Called cellularization, the process makes it possible for people and machines to work together as efficiently as possible.
Currently, when an F-16 arrives at Hill for modifications under the Common Configuration Implementation Program, it goes through an 11-cell production line.
At each cell, a new task set is accomplished readying the jet for its next stop.
modifications can now be carried out in less time, in less space, using the same number of people to get the job done, opening the hangar doors to more jets in need of modifications.
CCIP modifications not only enhance the cockpit, avionics, and combat capability of the F-16, but also its safety. The modifications allow the pilot to fight with more precision at a farther distance from the actual combat situation.
The Air Force sends F-16s to Hill to receive CCIP modifications as they return from their Aerospace Expeditionary Force, or AEF
The aircraft must be ready to return by the next time the unit is tasked to support an AEF cycle.
As part of the improvement process, Col. Paul Davidson, Aircraft Division chief, along with a team of F-16 and process improvement experts, visited Misawa AB to brief leadership on the new CCIP cellular flow.
Because the Misawa jets were to be the first F-16s to inducted into the new cellular flow, officials said it was imperative that the customer understand the changes, the potential advantages, as well as risks.
Colonel Davidson also wanted to increase communication and coordination with the Misawa customers by inviting several Misawa crew chiefs to visit Hill and work with base technicians on the Misawa jets as they progressed through the cellular flow line.
In addition, Col. Davidson sent a team of CCIP technicians and supervisors from Hill to Misawa this past August to accompany the first set of Misawa jets to back to the operational unit.
While there, the team partnered with Misawa's 35th Maintenance Group technician's during the jet's acceptance inspections and taught them the latest techniques on mapping the jets.
Officials say that this type of collaborative effort resulted in a valuable partnership between Hill and Misawa.
Last week, Col. William Wootton, commander of the 35th Maintenance Group, Misawa AB, visited Hill's Aircraft Division to see the modification line in operation and thank the crews for their efforts.
In a presentation to the CCIP technicians, Colonel Wootton praised the crews on the "remarkable partnership" they have built with Misawa; a partnership that they are "cementing and building upon every day."
"The CCIP Mods bring operational force enhancement to one of the world's most lethal aircraft," said Colonel Wootton.
"The quality you build into these jets makes them safe and reliable today, safe and reliable for decades!"
Colonel Wootton then presented the CCIP team with the 35th Maintenance Group flag in appreciation of the team's hard work and dedication and encouraged the team to continue to perform their assignments with "integrity, pride, honor, and diligence."