NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD, Portsmouth, Va. –
Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s (NNSY) 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.
NNSY Mission Pillar Team’s (MPT) priorities were identified to help improve the shipyard’s dependable mission delivery. The focus areas are: reduce overhead, optimize Direct Support Services (DSS), increase production efficiency, and inventory other direct work.
From 2014 to May 2021, cost performance (CP) for in-yard Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) projects has decreased from 0.83 to 0.65 in a negative trend. In essence, the current cost performance numbers are stating that it takes twice the man-hours to do a job that was planned for one person to accomplish. Since May, there has been increased focus on our efficiencies, affected by all departments and stakeholders. “By working together as a team and focusing on the change of management behavior, we went from 0.65 CP in May to 0.70 in July. This puts us closer to our goal of reaching 0.75 CP by November,” said Production Resources Manager (Code 901) John Walker.
While simultaneously improving the shipyard’s efficiency, the team is also focused on increasing productive capacity supporting in-yard projects. “We have to improve our capacity to support the Fleet. At our busiest times, we have approximately 1,500 mechanics out of approximately 4,000 working in-yard ships and submarines each day. The rest are working offsite, I-level, emergent, other direct work, or overhead. We have been, and must constantly, review the assignments of our workforce to make sure we are meeting priorities,” said Production Resources Officer (Code 900) Capt. Scott Tracey. “Since we started the review, my team already found more than 350 mechanics charging most of their time to overhead functions instead of direct work. We have to make sure we are training, assigning, and charging time accurately.”
It is the MPT’s goal to have 2,500 mechanics. with 2,000 of them on ships performing their jobs each day. The remaining 500 accounts for those in training or on leave at any given time.
“There are anywhere from 800 – 1,000 personnel on leave or training on any given day,” said Walker. “This takes away a lot more than we originally thought.”
Training and qualifications are essential to ensure first time quality work is completed in a safe and timely manner. However, there are some annual trainings that remove a mechanic from the waterfront for approximately three months at a time.
“Without cutting corners or diminishing the training itself, we are looking into ways on how to keep mechanics on the waterfront,” said Walker. “For instance, some of the annual refresher training is being performed over the course of the year, something that the mechanic might have been doing hands-on during the year. Could this be turned into on-the-job training?”
Another way to improve cost production is to ensure that the mechanic’s time is being entered into Supervisor’s Desk (SUPDESK) properly.
“Accurate charging is very important to determine where our people are spending their time, so we can find – and remove – the barriers to efficiency,” said Capt. Tracey. “We found, for several reasons, that some supervisors or managers were entering all the time at the end of the week or pay period or they enter the time under the wrong category. We have to pay our people every day and elevate problems that prevent accurate charging.”
To bring awareness to supervisors and managers, Code 900 has reinstated weekly cost production meetings.“The culture of the way we think and do our job needs to change,” said Walker. “During these meetings, we don’t accept excuses. We only accept accountability, solutions and actions towards those solutions. If a question is asked and the answer is not known, that individual will be held accountable to find the answer and to make any necessary changes to get us where we need to be.”
Increasing production efficiency is not a simple task and it doesn’t happen overnight. However, steps are being taken on a daily basis to ensure NNSY is moving forward and not staying stagnant.
“This is not a one person or even one code responsibility,” said Capt. Tracey. “We as a shipyard, are ONE TEAM with ONE MISSION and together we will make a difference to show why we are America’s Shipyard.”