NEWS | Sept. 27, 2021

NSS-SY: Crew boards streamline start-of-shift process for supervisors, workers across shipyard

By Max Maxfield, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility

Crew boards, which were part of the Naval Sustainment System—Shipyards Start-of-Shift sprint conducted during the past several months, are now being expanded to additional projects across Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility.

According to Ray Howard, an NSS-SY lead for PSNS & IMF, crew boards were found to be an effective tool during the Start-of-Shift sprint in the trades muster areas, on the USS Louisiana (SSBN 743) project.

“The Start-of-Shift sprint was an improvement initiative that focused on providing a standard for supervisors and mechanics to prepare for their daily work,” Howard said. “This process has shown to help mechanics take ownership of their preparation process as they readied to perform their assigned work for their upcoming shifts. The crew boards are a visual tool supervisors and mechanics use together that show mechanics their job assignment, current job status, and expectations for what needs to be done, as well as potential barriers they might face.”

According to Howard, crew boards proved to be valuable tools for supervisors during the pilot project, and their use will now be expanded to other projects. Feedback from first-level supervisors and mechanics are informing the way crew boards are being used throughout PSNS & IMF.

PSNS & IMF and the other three public shipyards started NSS-SY sprints on four pilot vessels, all of which were submarines. The lessons learned by the PSNS & IMF team implementing the Start-of-Shift sprint were shared across the corporation. Now the pilots have been expanded to some carrier availabilities.

“The intent is for supervisors to effectively turn over information during shift changes, assign work and properly prepare mechanics to perform their tasks safely and efficiently before they go to the job site. The crew boards are also a simple and effective visual tool to facilitate tracking of status and issues.”

A sprint is a fast and focused effort to look at one process or part of a process to see where barriers can be removed or systems put in place to streamline the overall process. PSNS & IMF executed a variety of sprints during the USS Louisiana fiscal 2019 Engineered Refueling Overhaul. During the Start-of-Shift Communications sprint, NSS-SY leads and personnel from Code 900, Production Resources, figured out some best practices for making crew boards effective tools for any project.

According to Howard, the NSS-SY Standard Operating Procedure for Start-of-Shift sprint lays out proper crew board deployment and use. This process includes these steps:

1) Prior to meeting with workers at the start of the shift, supervisors and/or work leaders update crew boards and use them to assign jobs and set the goals for the shift.

2) Supervisors review shift turnover information and logs, and meet with previous shift supervisors (if possible) to understand the current issues or needs.

3) Supervisors and/or work leaders prepare and lay out Technical Work Documents for workers, reviewing notes from previous shift mechanics to ensure consistency with shift turnover logs.

4) Workers arrive and immediately review crew boards to identify their assigned work for the day. NOTE: Mechanics should come to the boards to review the shift plan, goals and issues without waiting for the whole group to arrive or for the formal Start-of-Shift briefings and activities.

5) Workers grab and review Technical Work Documents, proactively track down tools and grab kits from the Job Readiness Cell, and coordinate with assist trades, to prepare for the next job. NOTE: When requirements for a job are not available, mechanics should escalate the issues to their supervisors and/or zone managers and begin work on the next job in priority.

6) Workers meet with their supervisors for required briefings and ask any questions needed to conduct the job safely and to ensure first-time quality.

7) Workers get to the deckplate with everything they need to begin work.

According to Howard, in addition to any standard Code 900 pre-shift briefings or activities, supervisors should brief the entire crew on Mondays regarding the overall work plan and goals for the week. The crew boards should also have two-to-three back-up jobs assigned in case an issue stops the primary jobs assigned to the team.

“We have standardized a lot of the way we do things at PSNS & IMF over the years,” said Howard. “Crew boards help create an effective formalized way for supervisors across all trades to get their people focused, ready to work and empowered to solve problems.”