NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif. –
The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Admiral Michael Gilday, recently rolled out an initiative dubbed Get Real Get Better (GRGB). GRGB is a call to action designed to enact real, necessary culture change in order to reach the command’s potential and ensure the Navy is effective during this era of strategic competition. Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW) leadership believes that the best way to accomplish this is to engage teammates in the process and get ideas from the people performing the necessary work. The command rolled out the “GRGB Challenge” where teammates can submit ideas on how to improve processes, reduce cost, or increase speed of delivery to the fleet. Anyone that submits an idea that is accepted and enacted by the GRGB intervention team is eligible for a $500 award.
Improving the way the command does business and providing the warfighter with the products necessary is what the FRCSW props team does on a daily basis but this time they stepped it up a notch. The team created a collaborative and innovative environment that involved everyone from artisans to leadership. The teamwork and technical expertise of the artisans, supervisors, and leadership as well as the lessons learned through the ongoing Naval Sustainment System (NSS) effort allowed the E-2D program to create a new benchmark in maintenance, repair, and overhaul excellence. NSS takes the best execution from industry with the goal of increasing spare parts, enhancing capability, and maintaining aircraft to provide the Warfighter with the highest quality product at the fastest rate. The team took the knowledge and information available and solidified it into a digital toolset that helped to identify any “gaps” between new software and the current enterprise applications being used. This information is what frontline managers requested in order to enact real change and improve performance.
In recognition of the outstanding support to the warfighter and the GRGB principles, the FRCSW E-2D product line was awarded the 2022 Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Commander’s Award in the GRGB category. The NAVAIR Commanders awards are designed to highlight commands across NAVAIR that provide exceptional levels of service to the fleet.
The innovative incorporation of analytical software enabled by the FRCSW E2D team met this criteria through development of customized, automated reports, powered by a tenaciously collaborative culture that has delivered on the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) requirement for E-2D Planned Maintenance Interval – 2 (PMI-2) Turnaround Time (TAT) of 220 days. Such improvement was driven by the team’s real-time push of data allowing rapid decisions at the lowest levels possible
In 2022, the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) gave the FRCSW E-2D product line a “North Star” for E2D PMI-2 TAT. The goal was to reduce TAT from 346 to 220 days, a 37% reduction. The team was able to find a way to not only achieve, but to also sustain this type of reduction. In fact, the FRCSW E2D team was able to surpass the goal dropping TAT to 205 days, a 41% reduction.
The improvement was tackled by engaging all necessary parties through expert collaboration and a spirited innovation effort that was performed within, and enabled by, NAE’s transformation to the Naval Sustainment System – Aviation (NSS – A). Meeting this achievement is in direct support of the command’s mission to deliver warfighter readiness. It has also allowed the E-2D product line to become a trusted partner and key player in the E-2D community’s goal to meet Mission Capable Aircraft Requirements.
Quickly recognizing that meeting and sustaining the TAT goal would come through consistent and integral improvement from the ground up, the E-2D product line collaborated at the lowest level with artisans, industrial engineering, and operations analysts to value stream the PMI-2 production flow.
The effort yielded a clear understanding of need dates, pinch points, and work order batching which allowed the team to efficiently progress each aircraft through the necessary PMI stations. Seizing the momentum of the effort and realizing that lasting change would only come through solidifying knowledge into a digital toolset, the product line leveraged its innovative spirit to implement a commercial suite of business analytical software programs and developed an improved production linkage that focused on lead time and lead time offsets. This effort allowed the team to identify an interface gap between the analytical software and enterprise applications. Once identified, the product line again empowered collaboration at the lowest level in order to work across the enterprise and develop customized automated reports to improve processes. Elimination of the interface gap by providing the team with real time data through these automated reports delivered powerful programmatic control to team leaders by pushing the identified need dates and pinch points to line managers twice daily. Line managers and artisans were then trusted to act on the information and make efforts to offset any potential production delays or elevate the problems to a higher level in a timely manner.
The PMI-2 220 day TAT flow clearly identified points in the process where material must be available at the aircraft to avoid production delays. The E-2D product line collaborated with critical material suppliers, FRCSW components team, the Defense Logistics Agency and Navy Supply (NAVSUP) to forecast those gates as well as any material availability concerns in time to assess alternate courses of action designed to maintain schedule and meet the required TAT. The heartbeat of this collaboration effort occurred within the E-2D product line’s Production Control Center (PCC).
In addition to North Island PMI-2 events, the E-2D product line supports the E-2 community depot requirements through in-service repair and modification. Having streamlined the PMI-2 events and continuing to exploit the collaboration and problem solving occurring within the daily PCCs, the line reinforced global level III maintenance support (which includes overhaul and repair or modification to the aircraft) to the NAE by preplanning quick response teams. This allowed the E-2D line to simultaneously deploy mod teams to three underway carriers and NAS Point Mugu to accelerate incorporation of a flight safety modification to the auto-feather system resulting in 26 aircraft returning to service within 7 days of the team being notified and eliminating a potential prolonged operational pause for the E-2D community. All this occurred while the team continued to deliver PMI-2 aircraft on schedule.
The E-2D team is long known for their unwavering fleet support. Recently, with just four days’ notice, and prior to capability establishment at FRCSW, the team performed the first ever E-2D dome swap in support of VAW-126, just two weeks prior to their deployment aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). The team rose to the occasion again when an aircraft from VAW-117 landed at Naval Air Station North Island due to an inflight emergency with a leaking prop. The team was able to remove and replace the prop and get the aircraft back aboard USS Nimitz within hours of its deployment. The professionalism of the E-2D team enabled Nimitz to deploy with a full contingent of E-2D aircraft.
The visibility, empowerment and collaboration efforts are a testament to the E-2D product line’s commitment to the success of the entire NAE. This was further demonstrated by their willingness to transport this analysis toolset, collaborative mindset, and accountability to the V-22 Product Line. The sharing of common root causes, lessons learned, and innovative problem solving has accelerated the V-22’s journey to meet their own TAT North Star of 250 days.