West Point helps 'lean' equipment delivery
By Anthony Ricchiazzi
U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command
Five U.S. Military Academy at West Point cadets are working a dual-purpose project to improve equipment flow here.
The cadets, all seniors, are applying what they have learned about Lean Six Sigma to assist Tobyhanna Army Depot and the Defense Logistics Agency Distribution-Tobyhanna, or DLA, to improve delivery time of assets from DLA to depot repair shops.
They are also fulfilling a course requirement and earning U.S. Army Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.
"Their goal is to help the depot shorten delivery time and reduce variability in delivery time," said Col. Donna Korycinski, a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt candidate in West Point's Department of Systems Engineering. "They will spend two full semesters on this project, which is the Senior Integrative Experience, part of the Systems Engineering Department's Capstone Course."
Korycinski said they are in the process of mapping out the delivery process. She said that the project involves several steps: define the problem; stakeholder analysis, or who wants what; mapping out the process; measure the process to see where it is now; and use all the Lean tools the cadets have learned to make recommendations for improvement.
Production Controller Mark Entwistle complimented the cadets, noting that they knew immediately to listen to input from DLA and Tobyhanna.
"Just being part of the process and seeing how they handle themselves and take all aspects and input from all involved, gives me a positive outlook on continuing this effort with them and coming to a successful outcome to improve this process," he said. "Even though we're only in the early stages of the project, I believe that Tobyhanna and DLA will see some significant changes once the project has been completed."
Site Manager Ted Nelson, DLA Distribution Tobyhanna, said the cadets are extremely focused and committed.
"They are asking probing questions about the process, which means they are not just 'checking a block' to complete a classroom assignment," he said.
"I have communicated the importance and focus of inventory management as all of the cadets upon graduation and assignment may be given an extra responsibility as a supply officer when they arrive at their permanent duty station," he said.
"We'll be here at least twice per month, plus we'll be communicating by phone and email with employees," said Cadet Benjamin Gutz. "It's a great opportunity for us to earn our (Lean Six Sigma) Green Belts.
"Depot and DLA employees have been very helpful," he added. "When I'm commissioned, I will want their support."
Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department's largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna's missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.
About 5,400 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., the command's mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.