Throughout the Fleet Readiness Center domain, many programs form the team required to meet Commander, Navy Air Forces (CNAF) initiative to achieve 341 mission-ready F/A-18 Super Hornets by 2020. At Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) the hydraulics shop in Building 472 contributes to the CNAF goal by focusing much of its efforts on the flight control systems of the Super Hornet.
"Hornet E and F rudders, trailing edge flaps, horizontal stabilizers and ailerons are the most common components that we work on," said pneudraulics work leader Logan Black. Manned by 55 artisans and approximately 12 contractor personnel operating in two shifts, the shop also refurbishes flight control components to legacy A-D Hornets, the E-2/C-2 airframe, CH-53 and H-60 helicopters. Components to the LM2500 turbine engine are renovated, as well.
Black said that "the shop focuses on Issue Priority Group 1 (IPG1) aircraft --- aircraft that are down --- for a component. The shop maintains a priority chart that is based on the top 10 IPG1s. Inducted components undergo an electrical check prior to a diagnostic check to locate any failures within the unit. Parts are replaced as required. If something like an attachment is broken and we can't get it through the supply system, then we send it through our evaluator and estimator to the material engineering disposition program who would deem it as scrap," Black noted.
Many flight control components, like rudders and nose wheel landing gear, are equipped with electro hydraulic service valves (EHSV) which the shop also repairs. The EHVS sends the hydraulic signal to the flight control actuator which determines aircraft movement. To check and test components, the shop uses the Servo-Cylinder Test Station (STS).
Black said that "three of the test stations are exclusively used on the Super Hornets for testing the aircrafts main components including stabilizers and nose wheel. Other STSs are used on components belonging to IPG1 aircraft. Once we final test the component and after our last quality assurance (QA) check, the unit is sent back to the squadron or whoever the customer may be," Black said.
Thanks to its artisans and members from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the shop recently improved the turn-around time (TAT) to its customers by approximately 40 percent. The BCG, a 55-year-old management consulting firm, arrived at FRCSW in early October with the intent to analyze the Navy Sustainment System and devise improved procedures to increase production efficiency.
Black said "the reduction in TAT was primarily achieved through a focus on procuring and preparing parts, and the development of a color-coded system to alert artisans and supervisors to areas in need of immediate attention. They made our work much more visual than it just being from a spreadsheet," he said. "When they colored the issues red to bring attention to them, people started seeing the problem rather than just knowing about the problem. We've been able to address issues with getting parts. And making it a visual indication allowed us to see what the problems were and what the hold-ups were. We had meetings with people from other departments to get the components to move. This got everyone on the same page with us receiving the parts and getting them into the shop to be worked."
A board for artisans to voice their ideas and concerns was setup in the shop by BCG. One suggestion resulted in an improved approach to kitting parts for the components. "There was a lot of confusion as to identifying the parts for the kitting," said pneudraulics systems mechanic Brett Lee. "Typically, there's more than 50 parts per component kit, and these include the kits for rudders, ailerons, leading edge stabilizers and trailing edge flaps."
"The artisans were willing to work with production control to cross kit the components so we could work them. With BCG highlighting the material problems, the artisans were willing to work with them and fix a lot of the problems we were having," Black noted. "I know BCG is still working on a lot of process improvements," he said. "I don't think they are leaving anytime soon, and at least one person will stay and shadow to make sure things are running smoothly."
The hydraulics shop services more than 100 different components and processes about 500 per components quarterly.