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NEWS | May 5, 2020

Defeating customer service obstacles by using clear plastic barriers

By Silvia Klatman, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

When members of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility’s 14,000 strong workforce need help with services such as payroll or travel, they often rely on face-to-face contact with specialists.

The jarring arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic meant those in command customer service roles had to figure out new ways to continue helping the workforce while keeping everyone safe. Clear barriers were the clear solution.

Enter the command’s Component Repair and Fabrication crew at Moonshine Lab.

The CRF team unveiled three standard options for clear barriers April 24. The barriers allow the service provider to stand closer to their customers, which enhances service while eliminating the need to completely reconfigure some settings.

“They were designed to be an extra layer of protection for high-traffic areas requiring personnel to interact with each other face-to-face,” said Chuck Lance, cell manager, Code 1060 Process Improvement.

In the short time since the capability was announced, more than two dozen barriers have been installed at PSNS & IMF, including a handful that were customized to meet the specialized needs of frontline workers.

Kathy Wattam, Code 1060 Process Improvement and Moonshine Lab supervisor, is lead of a cadre of innovators taking on the challenge to design and build the barriers. Her team includes Composite Plastic Fabricator Tracy Atkins, Shop 64 Shipwrights; Shipfitter Mechanic Harlen Caldwell, Shop 11 Shipfitters; and Inside Machinist Jared Davis, Shop 31 Machinists, Electroplaters and Toolmakers.

Most customers find that one of the three standard sizes of 3 x 3 feet, 2 x 3 feet or 3 x 2 feet work well, and only takes about an hour to build. Designing and constructing a custom barrier such as an “L” shaped barrier can take up to three times longer but the team is up for the challenge.

“We build whatever size and shape is needed,” said Lance.

Now that the capability has been proven, and the products have been delivered to the workforce, the team is working on ways to fine-tune the process and reduce costs. The most recent transition has been switching from Plexiglass to vinyl.

“The material is causing a bit of a learning curve as we adapt the hardware to secure the vinyl,” said Lance. He praised the enthusiasm and commitment the CRF crew has to supporting their teammates throughout the shipyard while supporting the fleet.

“Every single member is doing everything they can to deliver Navy projects on time, every time,” Lance said.