An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : Article View
NEWS | Jan. 18, 2024

Crane maintenance employees do the heavy lifting to ensure that availabilities continue to run on time

By Aime Lykins, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

From the waterfront of Port Orchard to the downtown area of Bremerton, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility’s towering cranes can be seen along the skyline — symbols of how the shipyard supports the U.S. Navy’s fleet. Weighing thousands of pounds, with the ability to hoist some of the Navy’s largest, heaviest assets, each crane is serviced and maintained by a dedicated team of more than 275 personnel assigned to Code 700, Lifting and Handling Department.

All of PSNS & IMF’s CAT I, II and III cranes are certified annually using Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command’s Navy Crane Center requirements. The cranes play a major role in on-time delivery of naval vessels as there is certain work only the cranes and their operators can perform. This makes thorough, efficient crane maintenance an absolute necessity to ensure they are available when needed.

“Our cranes are the backbone of the shipyard,” said Enrique Lozada, apprentice crane electrician, Crane Maintenance Division, Code 730. “They allow us to perform the heavy lifting required to complete availabilities and dry dock support projects.”

Without the cranes, a project’s heaviest components remain grounded.

“During the course of the last seven years, the availability of portal cranes to support day-to-day waterfront operations at the shipyard’s six dry docks has been a challenge,” said Sean Trask, crane maintenance superintendent, Code 730. “In May 2022, the Crane Maintenance Team had a week-long Strategic Planning Session lead by Code 1040, Carrier Product Line. We started the SPS by looking at scheduling and execution of our crane services. We quickly realized that we had been struggling in the areas of planning, scheduling, resourcing, upgrades and materials. This forced us to make drastic changes in how we do business.”

Historically, each Code 700 division worked in silos to complete work. However, the planning session allowed for productive conversations about LEAN principles such level loading work, identifying operational constraints and setting realistic project timelines for each work cell. Employees from Code 710, Technical Division; Code 720, Inspection and Test Quality Assurance Division; and Code 730 are now working together, along with other team members, using project management fundamentals to focus on maintenance planning, execution and safety.

“Focusing on teamwork is key to meeting the demands placed on the Crane Maintenance Team,” said Adam Slater, chief engineer, Code 710. “This is particularly important as we move forward with commissioning new bridge, mobile and portal cranes that will be coming this year. I am grateful of our team members who are very talented and dedicated to support the success of crane maintenance.”

Perhaps the greatest change made by crane maintenance management was improving communication at all levels to ensure that teams understand how their work supports the command’s mission. Improved communication empowers work teams to make the incremental adjustments needed to focus on the right priorities to achieve success. The level at which decisions are being made is being pushed further down the chain so decisive actions can be taken without routing delays. An actively engaged workforce of electricians, mechanics, painters, inspectors, test directors, engineers, planners, operators and riggers across all shifts are overcoming obstacles to executing work and certifying cranes at throughput levels not achieved in many years.

Management has also made a concerted effort to connect with the workforce on a more personal level than previously seen. Increased frequency of all-hands meetings has provided additional opportunities to recognize Crane Maintenance Team successes. Genba walks and crew visits have also allowed Code 700 management to have more direct access to team members so they can share their input on work execution challenges and bubble up process improvement ideas.

“The increased focus on our people has paid dividends, not only in the number of cranes being certified, but also overall safety and morale,” said Trask. “There has been a significant reduction in injuries, which combined with a higher throughput of cranes, speaks volumes to the amazing commitment being made by the workforce and managers of the Crane Maintenance Team.”