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NEWS | July 16, 2021

Fix or Elevate - Improves Processes for PNS Electricians

By Bianca Mireles, PNS Public Affairs Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

A key strategy of Naval Sustainment System - Shipyards (NSS-SY) is implementing a paradigm shift of treating shipyard mechanics as the customer. “That means it’s our job, leadership’s job, to make sure mechanics have the tools they need to do their jobs as efficiently as possible,” said Rear Adm. Howard Markle, NAVSEA’s Deputy Commander for Industrial Operations. “It also means they have a direct line up to us if they run into problems they can’t fix themselves.”  NSS-SY is consulting production personnel across all shipyards and asking, “Are you being supported with the proper paper, tools, parts, and resources needed to execute your work efficiently?”

                NSS-SY consulted Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s (PNS) Electronics Shop and learned an issue cutting down their productivity was inconsistent access to test equipment -- particularly for fiber optic work. With an insufficient number of test meters, mechanics were regularly spending non-value-added work time tracking down available meters from other crews. The team utilized the “fix or elevate” strategy by elevating the barrier to the PNS Calibration Laboratory and the Electrical-Electronics-Calibration code, who provide the calibration resources. While the PNS Calibration Lab calibrates many tools on yard, they determined one cause for shortages was the delay on equipment that required extra time and money being shipped and calibrated by an external third party. The lack of availability was further compounded when the current third party vendor notified PNS their calibration services for the fiber optic meter were being discontinued. Calibration Laboratory Engineer George Burdess took the lead on elevating this barrier to NAVSEA and the Naval Surface Warfare Center - Corona, who is responsible for the Navy Metrology and Calibration (METCAL) Program.

                As an immediate solution, METCAL is now providing an interim site to provide fiber optic calibration. As a long-term solution, they are helping PNS with establishing on-site capabilities for calibrating these tools. Advocating for his shipyard peers, Burdess leaned in with a bias for action by bringing the issues to METCAL’s attention and helped facilitate real change. Mechanics can look forward to having more consistent access to the tools they need, and having more time on the deck plates to accomplish their vital work.

                The Calibration Lab’s exemplifying the “get real, get better” philosophy doesn’t end there. They identified other areas for potential improvement and are actively working with the Innovation Project and the Engineering and Planning Department to develop solutions. “Working through these issues requires teamwork across PNS and through the NAVSEA corporation,” said Electrical-Electronics-Calibration Value Streams Manager Ryan Normandeau. “We will continue striving to put the best equipment in the hands of our mechanics and engineers.”