General Dynamics relies on Lean/Six Sigma at Maine gun facility

General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products is investing in production equipment and accelerating its enterprise-wide focus on Lean/Six Sigma-based process improvements at its Saco, Maine, gun manufacturing facility to increase the plant’s capacity. The site serves as General Dynamics’ core production site for single- and multi-barrel aircraft and crew-served weapon systems.

Products manufactured in Saco include the MK19 and MK47 40-millimeter grenade weapon systems, high-speed multi-barrel Gatling guns and M2 50-caliber machine guns. General Dynamics’ Gatling gun systems are onboard every U.S. fighter aircraft, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and the company has manufactured more than 30,000 MK19 gun systems. The M2 machine gun has been in production at Saco since 1979.

According to Mike O’Brien, vice president/general manager of gun systems for General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, “As we anticipate the needs of our Department of Defense customers, we understand that our ability to remain responsive and flexible in a very dynamic marketplace is absolutely critical. The first phase of our initiative to prepare our Saco site for future growth involves capital investments of more than $5 million in equipment. When coupled with our Lean/Six Sigma approach to our production process, this will allow us to net additional efficiencies.

“In the first phase, our focus will be on providing greater capacity to support our MK19 and M2 production lines. We have recently hired more than 60 production employees and we intend to hire approximately 30 more to ensure capacity for future technologies such as our Advanced Crew Served Weapon Systems. To complement this investment, General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products is also committed to advanced technical training for the newly hired and existing workforce.”

General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products was recently awarded a contract by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Command (TACOM) to produce M2HB machine guns, valued at up to $36.6 million through 2009. Production work will be performed at the Saco site, and deliveries are expected to begin in April 2008. The guns will be used on ground vehicles by the U.S. Army, Army Reserve, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, as well as several foreign military customers. The program will be managed out of General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products’ Burlington, Vt., facility.

“The M2HB 12.7-millimeter (caliber .50) machine gun fires at a rate of more than 450 rounds per minute and has a maximum effective range of 2,000 yards. The machine gun’s high level of lethality, reliability and versatility has made it the world standard in its class and can give warfighters a critical advantage,” said O’Brien.

General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, located in Charlotte, N.C., a business unit of General Dynamics, provides a broad range of system solutions for military and commercial applications. The company designs, develops and produces high-performance armament systems; a full range of advanced composite-based products; biological and chemical detection systems; and mobile shelter systems.

General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 83,500 people worldwide and reported 2007 revenues of $27.2 billion. The company is a market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and information systems and technologies. Subscribe to Machinery Lubrication