Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth Unit Takes Lean In Stride in '99
Fort Worth, Texas, 05-JAN-00 -- 1999 was a banner year for implementing lean manufacturing principles at Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems. Starting in February and running through December, the workforce conducted a total of 47 lean blitzes throughout the plant, streamlining programs and functional areas.
Blitzes, also known as kaizen events, are department-specific efforts to achieve improvement. Typically, they are weeklong projects where members of management and hands-on employees team up to devise ways to improve efficiency and realize savings.
The four major metrics cited to quantify improvement were space reduction, walking distance, product travel distance, and span time. Results varied from each blitz, but in almost all instances the amount of improvement was dramatic, up to and including 100 percent improvement.
In the year 2000, lean blitz weeks will be held every month, with four or more events planned during each of the blitz weeks.
In addition to the lean blitzes, the company initiated a number of kaikakus, which are much larger in scope than a blitz. These usually involve multiple departments and take months to complete. The literal definition of the Japanese term kaikaku is, radical improvement of an activity to eliminate waste.
Of nine kaikakus initiated in 1999, five were completed before the end of the year, with the other four to be completed in 2000. The kaikakus completed last year included the F-16 ALE-50 pylon, F-22 weapons bay doors, F-22 configurable rail launcher, F-16/F-22 small tube shop and the F-16 harness assembly. Like the lean blitzes, the results from the kaikakus were similarly dramatic, albeit on a much larger scale. In the case of the F-22 weapons bay doors, for example, savings on the entire F-22 program will be $7.2 million.
In addition to our cost savings, we have seen a tremendous increase in personal accountability through our employee involvement program, said Larry Pike, director of lean deployment and process improvements. Our employees are coming up with great ideas and their contributions are critical to growing the business.
1999 was a great year for Tactical Aircraft Systems in launching lean throughout our operations, said Cindy Waun, manager, lean enterprise. However, what we've accomplished so far is only a harbinger for what we will accomplish in 2000 and beyond. The lessons learned and the principles applied in lean not only will result in huge savings for current programs like the F-16, but for future programs as well, like the Joint Strike Fighter. At Tactical Aircraft Systems, lean is not another flavor-of the-month management initiative but is becoming an integral part of our business culture. Indeed, it is becoming the way we do business and build aircraft.
Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems is a leader in the design, development, systems integration and support of fighter aircraft. Its customers include the military services of the United States and allied countries throughout the world. LMTAS employs approximately 11,000 people at facilities in Fort Worth, Texas, and is a unit of Lockheed Martin Corporation.