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NEWS | Nov. 22, 2022

NSS-SY Innovation Spotlight: Digital crew boards

By Aime Lykins, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

In mid-2021, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility’s Naval Sustainment System-Shipyards Waterfront Pillar team rolled out standards for start-of-shift briefs and introduced the use of dry-erase crew boards. With an innovative mindset, Code 900DX Digital Transformation and the Code 900 Production Resources Officer looked ahead to the next level of transformation, and began investigating ways to automate traditionally manual tasks.

The question on how to approach automating crew boards was taken to the waterfront. The idea of automation was shared with waterfront supervisors across multiple Gemba walks, during tours of other naval facilities and at corporate NSS-SY venues.

“Throughout this initial brainstorming, there was overwhelming positive support for the concept, and people shared ideas and feedback that spurred the kick-off of the digital crew boards initiative in January 2022,” said Dakota King, deputy digital transformation manager, Code 900DX. “In support of digital tools on the waterfront, the [NSS-SY] IT Pillar engaged in the development of the digital crew boards concept, building upon the Waterfront Pillar’s start-of-shift effort.”

Shop 26, Welders, became the champion of the digital crew board pilot program and boards were used daily at existing start-of-shift briefs. The shop’s muster site already had the right equipment, which enabled the rapid creation of the digital tool that allowed crew members to track jobs electronically rather than on cumbersome dry-erase boards.

The digital crew boards facilitate a two-way information pathway. The lead shop is able to see what is going on with the assist trade, which helps supervisors and crew members stay more up-to-date with current work, and be quicker with reactions to changes. The boards showcase the power of having real-time information available to crews and upper management. This will benefit supervisor support meetings in a positive way, providing supervisors real-time, up-to-date information as they are coordinating with other trades and codes. This fosters improved communication, resulting in more effective waterfront crews.

“Currently there are 10 supervisors that have been a part of the pilot,” said Kyle Denton, digital transformation manager, Code 900DX. “Major changes to the digital tool are planned based on the first phase. A second phase will include additional supervisors to test those changes.”

Digital crew boards are a tool created by the supervisors, for the supervisors and allow direct feedback and testing on how the tool is functioning for them and their crews.

“Having their involvement in the foundational phases of building is both vital and invaluable,” said Jeremiah Darnall, NSS-SY IT Pillar representative. “For this initiative to truly be successful, we must have the continued support of our current pilot and future supervisors.”

PSNS & IMF has quickly moved from initial request to a working pilot and are very close to a minimum viable product that can be implemented soon. This has been done with a small core team of 900DX and Code 109, Information Technology and Cyber Security Office, developers at PSNS & IMF.

“The current digital crew board WINs have been from our assist trades gaining the ability to build their own daily priority list and more readily see what work is coming up from lead shop supervisors,” Denton said. “There is keen interest across the shipyards to become involved and see how they can implement digital crew boards. Right now, this is a homegrown innovation, but we are building out a team of representatives from across all the shipyards.”

PSNS & IMF continues to improve its ability to deliver on time, every time to preserve national security, through activities like digital crew boards development with NSS-SY.

“With each meeting and iteration change, production supervisors are helping transform digital crew boards into a tool they want to use,” said Darnall. “In the near future we will be calling on more supervisors and their leadership to help support this to improve their daily lives.”