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By Aime Lykins, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs
At any given time across Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility’s waterfront, hundreds of jobs are being performed above and below the waterline. Everything from painting and blasting, to complex maintenance on combat systems. Each task is important and plays a part in supporting the U.S. Navy’s warfighters, including simple things such as securing bolts or cleaning up work areas. When exact specifications must be met, there is no room for error and procedures must be followed to the letter. With thousands of employees, working around the clock, standardization of work is essential to avoid maintenance delays.
Recognizing the need for standardization of work, the Shipyard Work Systems Standardization Team took on the task of developing a repository of standard work procedures for all four of the Navy’s public shipyards. Through that effort, the Naval Sea Systems Command Product Book was born. The Product Book includes instructions by job type, such as troubleshooting sewing machines in the Sail Loft, and torpedo tube assembly removal and installation.
Documentation of standard work in the Product Book provides detailed instructions on how to complete all manner of tasks. The book provides a “one-stop shop” resource for job information. Benefits include shorter planning cycles, improved job preparedness, better product quality, increased safety, consistent durations, increased throughput, hot washes, and corrections and improvement of efforts. The Product Book is a living document that provides a platform for continuous process improvement, and will play a pivotal role as the Virginia and Columbia-class submarines, and Ford- Class aircraft carriers begin maintenance availabilities in the coming years.
“I think the amazing thing about our standard work is that mechanics take complete ownership of the updates with little guidance from Code 960’s [Pipefitters and Insulators] Process Improvement Team,” said Angela Ehrhardt, Code 960 work lead. “They know what they want to see in the Standard Workbooks and we all work very closely with our respective engineering groups to create superior products. We make sure to have consistency in design and layout so even first-year mechanics know what to expect.”
The Information Technology and Cyber Security Office, Code 109, developed the digital Product Book application, which can be accessed by employees with computer access. Product Book application development and improvement is based on the Plan, Do, Check Act model of Lean organizations. In the PDCA model, "Plan" is to determine goals for a process and needed changes to achieve them. "Do" is to implement the changes. "Check" is to evaluate the results in terms of performance, and "Act" is to standardize and stabilize the change.
From July 2021 to January 2023, a growing number of users have been using the Product Book application. The SWSS Team is moving toward making the Product Book site the main corporate catalog for standardized shipyard maintenance work while simultaneously removing barriers and obstacles. The team is making strides to ensure that when standard work is available, it is used, and when it is not available, procedures are put in place.