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NEWS | May 10, 2021

Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s Continuous Process Improvement and Innovation Pillar Team Looks to the Future of America’s Shipyard

By Kristi Britt, Public Affairs Specialist Norfolk Naval Shipyard

Editor’s Note: Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s Strategic Framework is a tool to communicate the shipyard’s mission and vision statements, and shows how initiatives executed across the command tie together with why NNSY exists—to deliver warships.  In order to bridge the gap between mission and vision, NNSY has identified four critical focus areas—our pillars.  These pillars are the highest priority strategic focus areas we must urgently work to improve.  They are Infrastructure; Dependable Mission Delivery; People Development; and Process Improvement and Innovation.  


The Process Improvement and Innovation pillar aims to align and focus efforts to improve delivery of the shipyard’s mission, while accelerating, advocating for, and fostering an environment and culture of continuous process improvement, lean systems thinking, and innovation insertion. Shipyard Commander Capt. Dianna Wolfson said, “We must foster an environment and culture where we are continuously looking to improve not only our tools but also our processes – building a more efficient shipyard for our team to serve our mission to service the Fleet.” 


To help develop the shipyard to meet this goal, the Continuous Process Improvement and Innovation (CPI&I) Pillar Team was established. The team includes Quality Assurance Director (Code 130) and Pillar Lead George Fitzgerald, Radiological Controls Director (Code 105) Gary Sauers, Carrier Maintenance Program Manager (Code 312) Matt Merciez, Supply Officer (Code 500) Capt. Mark Garrigus, Production Resources Officer (Code 900) Capt. Scott Tracey, Head Nuclear Engineer (Code 2309) Bob Esfandiari, Lean Program Manager (Code 100PI) Mike Perkins, Innovation Program Manager (Code 100PI) Dan Adams, Deputy Comptroller (Code 601) Jamie Finlay, and Quality Assurance Workforce Development Specialist (Code 130) Nicholas Boyle.


“The pillar is designed to prioritize, track and enable high impact improvements for how we deliver ships back to the Fleet while creating an environment that supports and encourages innovation, improvement, and thinking outside the box,” said Fitzgerald. “Together, we’ve developed a charter that breaks down our vision and goals into several initiatives to help streamline our way into improving the way we do business.”


One of the initiatives is implementing strategic planning improvement sessions for each availability aimed at high cost jobs or critical path work. This would help the shipyard be able to learn and adapt to improving flow for all availabilities moving forward.


Next, the team will be looking at incorporating lean thinking into all processes and material flow throughout the workplace, providing improvements within the production shops to meet the overall mission. This would help determine how best to insert technology into the shipyard’s capabilities, aiding the shops in producing work more efficiently. The shipyard will also be utilizing self-assessments and functional assessments to develop improvement plans across the many processes utilized at America’s Shipyard to seek opportunities to improve.


The team will also be supporting and enabling developmental work within the NNSY Technology and Innovation (T&I) Lab. This will help identify cutting edge technologies and help get them into the hands of the production workforce.


Finally, the team is aiming to create a structure and organization that provides line support to the shops and codes as they transform into a more effective and efficient organization meeting the mission of NNSY. This organization, called Code 100T (Transformation), will consolidate Process Improvement and Innovation under one umbrella.


“Process Improvement and Innovation supports all of our pillar team’s efforts as well as our workforce as a whole, pushing the boundaries of what we do here at America’s Shipyard,” said Fitzgerald. “We’re excited to support our shipyard team in supporting our mission to repair, modernize, and inactive our Navy’s warships and training platforms.”