Reliability greatness is Raytheon's target

Paul V. Arnold, Noria Corporation

Do you want to be good, or do you want to be great?

Good is the second-string quarterback, the concert’s opening act, the partner in the Mel Gibson action flick. Good has merits, but it invariably gets you the clipboard, an uninterested audience and killed midway through the movie.

Great is Joe Montana, the Rolling Stones, Mel Gibson. Great gets you the Hall of Fame, groupies and a star on your dressing-room door.

Good is good. Great is so much more.

The Facility Services organization at Raytheon Missile Systems’ massive (5.1 million total square feet) site in Tucson, Ariz., knows it is good – its peers would say damn good – but what makes the group stand out is its desire to achieve greatness.

“This is more than just my job. This is my profession. People who see things the same way I do get it. We get what it’s all about,” says mechanic John Mendoza, one of 400 Facility Services employees who oversee maintenance and reliability for the Tucson missile plants and their 15,000-plus mechanical assets.

In the United States defense industry, good isn’t good enough.

“We aren’t making teapots. This is serious stuff,” says Facility Services deputy director Mike Burmood.

These RMS plants design, engineer and build 44 different offensive and defensive weapons (cruise missiles, laser-guided bombs, etc.) for the U.S. military and customers in more than 40 other countries.

If good is the goal in missile making, that injects the possibility of failure into the product. Such failure puts American lives at risk. Performance – greatness – means mission accomplished.

Facility Services is driven to perform at that high level. It excels at the basics and pushes the bar with innovation, creativity, education and solutions-based customer service.

“We have the right vision for the organization. We have the right measures, practices and skills,” says vice president of operations Rick Nelson, who stands on top of the Facility Services organizational chart. “We are set up to achieve great things.”

A fighter jet flies with a full load of four Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) missiles.

The Road to Good

Facility Services, which consists of five units – maintenance operations, facilities engineering, strategic planning, custodial and landscaping, and infrastructure – spent the 1990s getting to the good level. To reach that mark, it had to shed its reactive past.

“It’s not easy,” says Mendoza. “I used to work at U.S. Borax. The manager there would tell me, ‘We have a proactive maintenance program. If only we could stop fighting fires long enough to get it started.’”

Technicians perform final assembly work on Tomahawk cruise missiles at one of Raytheon’s plants in Tucson, Ariz.

The Raytheon Missile Systems crew steadily advanced through the use of:

Meaningful preventive maintenance: The site is audited annually by the United States Air Force. One of the items examined is the health and functionality of a PM program. Therefore, this became a priority.

Predictive maintenance: An improvement project identified the tools and technologies that would provide the most benefit and bang for the buck. This led to the purchase of infrared thermography, vibration analysis, ultrasound and oil analysis equipment.

Better planning and scheduling: “A well-designed plan, and executing that plan to the schedule, puts us where we want to be,” says mechanical planner John Lowe. “Effective use of a computerized maintenance management system and better communication with production enable this to happen.”

Mechanic Mark Greenbaum (right) and industrial engineer Ricardo Guzman inspect the components of a mobile work cart in the Paveway missile plant.

Root cause analysis: “By monitoring our performance and paying attention to where our breakdowns were occurring using RCA, we began to see a reduction in breakdowns,” says Burmood.

Lean manufacturing principles: Raytheon Six Sigma and agile supplied the framework to solve problems and continuously improve.

Planned work, a small percentage of overall work orders in the early 1990s, grew to 25 percent by mid-decade and is currently at 54 percent (35,000 planned work orders, 30,000 unplanned). Strategies are in place to achieve a near-term goal of 70 percent planned. Planned work completed to schedule, once 25 percent, now stands at 95.3 percent. Breakdowns have declined to 2 percent of unplanned work orders.

“By being able to anticipate what the problems are and finding them before they happen, our breakdowns fell dramatically,” says Facility Services director Brent Bean. “Now, we have time to do actual PMs and corrective actions before a breakdown occurs. The fewer breakdowns that we have, the more time we have to be proactive.”

Facility Services developed a fixture system that allows this Tomahawk mid-body to rotate 360 degrees on a group of red wheels. This idea reduced material handling and assembly time.
Value-added Proposition

Facility Services spent considerable time understanding its customers’ desires and expectations. According to Facility Services leader Mike Burmood, it comes down to six value-added components:

  1. Service.
  2. Eliminating waste.
  3. Reliability.
  4. Speed.
  5. Visual standards.
  6. Accountability.

Culture and Leadership

The shift from reactive to proactive gave Facility Services the opportunity to step outside the box and make greater use of its employees’ input, creativity, technical skills and brainpower. RMS leadership and culture made this opportunity a reality.

“People jump on the empowerment wagon. A company says, ‘You’re empowered.’ What does that mean?” says Raytheon Six Sigma master expert Jim Serazio.

He tells the story of a classic psychology experiment involving grade school kids and playground fences. The kids traditionally played all the way out to the fences. But when the school took the fences down, the kids began to hover close to the building.

“What happens in empowerment is we say, ‘We’re taking the fences down.’ But unless you nurture that culture and say, ‘It’s OK that the fences are gone. This is why we’re doing it. Now, go out and play and have fun,’ you’ll get timid response,” says Serazio. “It’s all about leadership.”

Support extends to the executive offices.

“I think the biggest challenge in a big company is unleashing talent,” says Nelson. “We tend to cap talent in roles, responsibilities, boundaries and risk. Getting out there and taking risks is so important.”

A Tomahawk cruise missile is secured in a test flight fixture.

Thinking, Acting Differently

For Facility Services, great things happen in this environment of freedom, improvement and innovation.

As opposed to its reactive past, when “greatness” was tied to fixing broken machines quickly, it now relates to aiding production/operations through ideas that streamline the assembly process, reduce costs, eliminate waste, and address safety and quality issues.

For example, after 9/11 and subsequent U.S. military conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, workers on the Paveway line quadrupled their monthly production.

“We ran across issues that we didn’t have before,” says operations manager Pat McKinney. “The product weighs 35 pounds. If you’re lifting 35 pounds onto your station 18 times a day and off of your station 18 times a day, that may not be a big deal. But when you are lifting that weight 200 times a day (100 times on, 100 times off), that’s another story. Our people were dragging. You’d see this big drop in productivity as the day went on. Also, when people get tired, mistakes – injuries and quality issues – happen.”

Engineer John Tsukamoto, mechanic Mark Greenbaum and machinist Ralph Hammer were among those who developed a solution – a trolley-type product holder that rolls along casters secured to a multiple-workstation base. The solution didn’t take weeks to design and build.

“It was a quick solution, and they ran to Home Depot to get the materials they needed,” says McKinney. “Now, there’s virtually no lifting.”

Greenbaum later added several gizmos that allow the product holder to twist, turn and tip to meet the operator’s assembly needs. He and Hammer also created an error-proofing device for a complex installation procedure at one of the line stations. This eliminated mistakes and rework.

Solutions, big and small, are all over the Tucson plants.

Product was getting scratched on inventory racks in one area. “The scratches were cosmetic, but it’s not the perception you want to give the customer,” says Mendoza. He created a unique upright rack system that eliminated the scratches and also reduced floor space.

Assembly tools were disorganized in workstation drawers. Mechanics designed and installed specially made drawer inserts that have cut-outs for the tools used at a particular station. For operators, that eliminates time spent searching, and also shows him or her when a tool is missing.

Production managers constantly seek to reduce material handling while at the same time increase mobility and flexibility. Facility Services members interview area production managers and operators to determine their precise needs. The operator might provide a rough sketch to illustrate a proposed improvement tool and what it needs to do. The crew member then designs and builds a prototype or finished model. Whether it is a parts presentation cart, mini-assembly line, multi-axis work holder or something completely different, the object is made to address the customer’s needs.

“It can’t be designed for you and your wishes. It must be designed for the operator. That person is the one who has to use it every day,” says Mendoza.

While these creations are high in utility and reusability (many creations incorporate Creform or Metro – tubular metal that can be used and reused like Tinker Toys), they are also low in cost and invested time.

“Frankly, we get most of the stuff we use for projects out of the scrap heap,” says Hammer.

Greenbaum explains: “When a program is dropped, we try to save some of the parts. We have a barn in the back where we keep these type of supplies.”

When production needs a solution, the project might take a few days, hours or minutes. But none of it involves elaborate engineering.

“The best solution is one that’s simple,” says Hammer. “We don’t do it up in AutoCAD or Pro/E. All this stuff is in your head. You just have to open up your mind to the possibilities.”

If the mechanic’s idea or creation doesn’t work, the consensus opinion is: Who cares?

“We’ll try anything,” says McKinney. “The worst thing that’s going to happen is it’s not going to work and we’ll put it back the way it was the next day. It’s when you spend a month talking about it and another month designing it, and bringing in a ton of resources and infrastructure, that’s when you get locked in. If you can do things very rapidly, quickly and inexpensively, you have the ability to try many different ideas and test-drive them. Even if it doesn’t work, you’re going to learn something from it.”

But more often than not, the idea succeeds, making Facility Services a bottom-line difference-maker.

A case in point is a coolant solution.

The fixtures and roller system in this Paveway 2 guidance electronics work station were designed by machinist Ralph Hammer, mechanic Mark Greenbaum and engineer John Tsukamoto.

Facility Services knew RMS was spending considerable cash each year draining, disposing and refilling coolant from machines. Utility helper Lou Cahoon brought up the idea of purchasing a purification system that filters the coolant and provides a direct line back to the production machinery. One-hundred percent of plant coolant now runs through the system. According to Cahoon and Burmood, it annually saves the company more than $100,000 in labor and material costs.

Another example is rationalizing the changeout of compressor oil. Mendoza says drainage and replacement of this synthetic oil was done on a time basis (once per year) as opposed to condition.

“Some of the oil samples were like brand new, but we’d dump them out,” he says. “We ran that oil through here by the tanker load. At $20 or more per gallon, that’s a waste. We think smarter now. It saves us money, and it saves the environment.”

Cahoon and his cohorts are also cutting costs through the predictive maintenance program. Burmood calls Cahoon “Mr. Oil Analysis” for the way he takes personal ownership of that technology. Facilities engineer Cosme Martinez states that oil analysis, infrared, vibration analysis and ultrasound combined to save the company hundreds of thousands of dollars last year.

What do the individual crew members get for these contributions and savings?

“Having someone thank you after you do something means a lot,” says Hammer. “A little recognition goes a long way.”

Performance and non-conformance does provide corporate stability, which in turn provides job security.

“You talk about getting people out of their box. It’s also getting them out of their own job description, their occupational guidelines,” says McKinney. “Facility workers were historically responsible for cleaning floors, fixing broken equipment, taking care of the structure. Today, they are as responsible as our assemblers and testers for meeting our schedules, reducing our costs and increasing our product reliability.

“Before, they had these borders around them. ‘I’m the mechanic.’ ‘I’m the plumber.’ ‘I’m the electrician.’ They weren’t looking at the whole value stream and how what I do affects you, and how what you do affects me. You have to look outside. Can I present the parts to make it easier for the assembler? If we remove all of the waste, we can make parts better, faster, cheaper and not eliminate jobs.

“In this competitive environment, everyone wants to attack the touch labor or support labor. That isn’t where the waste is. It’s when you have $20 million of capital sitting in your stock room. If we can get that down to $10 million or if we can reduce our cycle time from months to days, you’re saving tremendous amounts of money and space. That is how we save money. It’s not the traditional method of cutting heads.”

Facility Services is constantly seeking ways to reduce heavy lifting by assembly technicians.

All in The Family

Other plant departments have been instrumental in Facility Services’ evolution beyond good.

Production not only brings the group into its review and strategy meetings, but has welcomed it as part of the family.

“Historically, we kind of ignored them, but if you want them to contribute and play an active role in your operation, you need to make them a key member of this greater extended family,” says McKinney.

Engineering has brought the group into the design review process. Maintenance technicians and planners work with design engineers to examine drawings and blueprints, equipment under consideration for purchase, and equipment installation plans.

“We are involved from the beginning now,” says Burmood. “We provide input for maintainability and reliability.”

Design and construction engineers also call on them for equipment standardization.

“We have compressors today from a dozen different manufacturers,” he says. “We know which compressors best serve our needs, are more reliable, are easier to maintain. Working with design and construction, we have built into our bid document a list of compressor manufacturers and compressor types that we will accept. We will pare it down to a few manufacturers that best service our needs.”

Also, the Joint Apprenticeship Committee, in association with the Career Enrichment Program, offers an electrician apprenticeship program and is developing similar programs for machinists, HVAC technicians and plumbers. These four- to five-year programs provide Facility Services with highly skilled people to fill technical roles in the organization. Many times, apprenticeship candidates are employees who work outside of Facility Services.

Donna Bower is among the current crop of electrical apprentices. Before applying for the program, she spent 20 years as an assembler. She was selected after completing a lengthy interview and review process.

“I thought it would be challenging work, a job where you could use your brain and be physically involved. That appealed to me,” says Bower, who is nearly completed with the 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and more than 500 hours of classwork.

Plans are under way to expand the apprenticeship program beyond Facility Services into other disciplines and to offer skills education to the public.

According to Burmood, the company has conducted feasibility studies to financially support the creation of a technical high school in Tucson. Such a school would supply job candidates that address impending skills needs in maintenance and other functions at RMS.

Eyes Still On The Prize

In 2004, Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz., was one of eight recipients of the Shingo Prize, generally considered by industry leaders as the Nobel Prize for manufacturing. Facility Services played an important role in that enormous triumph.

You would think that would lead the department to believe it had surpassed good and moved into the strata of great. But it refuses to be lulled into satisfaction or complacency. Mission accomplished? Far from it.

“We’re not there yet. We’ll never be there completely. It’s a journey. . . . Every day, every week, every month, we’re doing something different, trying something new and getting better,” says Bean.

Adds Burmood, “Sometimes I think we’re still at the first step. The last five years have moved us toward a more reliability-oriented organization. When we won the Shingo in 2004, we identified ourselves as at that first step. We still see ourselves as about 20 percent of what we could be or want to be.”

As an example, he points out that 2 percent of unplanned work orders are breakdowns. That’s a low number until you consider that 2 percent of 30,000 unplanned work orders is 600 breakdowns per year. “Until we hit zero, that’s too high,” he says.

These leaders say the future for Facility Services will involve greater use of lean manufacturing techniques and employing lean tools to remove additional waste, cost and inefficiency in the department and its processes. The future will also include implementation of a formal Reliability-Centered Maintenance program. Individual workers will play a key role in that future.

“I’m 58, but I can’t wait for tomorrow,” says Mendoza. “Every day, I wake up and it’s a brand new world out there. We have a chance to go do something. In the old days, it was so rigid. It was all about fighting fires. You couldn’t imagine the changes that have taken place in 25 years. I would like to see what this place will be like in 20 years.”

Taking it Personally

Playing an active role in your department, plant and company’s journey to greatness is important. But at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, striving for personal growth is equally significant.

Hourly employees can expand their professional skills through the site’s Career Enrichment Program. One motto of the 18-year-old program is “helping employees be what they want to be.”

Tucson’s Pima Community College, in association with CEP, offers technical and general education courses in the classroom and online. CEP also is establishing opportunities for increased online classes through accredited schools such as Central Georgia Technical College or Phoenix’s Rio Salado College.

This program works on several levels.

It enables people to take individual courses to gain more knowledge for their current job.

They can push the bar and obtain an associate degree in applied science or business and industry from Pima.

It also allows people to complete a series of one-semester courses in order to obtain rights for any of the site’s 44 bargaining unit job classifications.

Earning additional classifications gives you the opportunity to achieve your own career goals – you’re a custodian but want to become an electrician, or an assembler seeking to become a machinist. It also supplies flexibility (an occupational insurance policy) in the event of downsizing or program changes (your particular missile program is affected by reduced Deptartment of Defense budgets). Completing the seven to 10 courses, on average, for a particular classificationgives you the formal right to seek that job.

“Many people here want to gain a wide variety of knowledge and experiences,” says Mark Hughes, a plumber/HVAC technician who serves on the CEP board of representatives. “They have the opportunity through CEP to grow and function according to their own desires.”

Involvement is widespread. According to CEP leader Mario Carfi, 77 percent of hourly workers have utilized the program in some fashion. Over the last five years, Raytheon hourly workers have taken nearly 3,000 CEP-approved classes at Pima. As a result, 83 percent of workers hold rights to two or more of the 44 job classifications and 59 percent hold rights to three or more.

In the past five years, the site has spent millions of dollars on CEP.

“We invest in education,” says VP of operations Rick Nelson. “Through initiatives like CEP, we are raising the caliber of understanding.”


Just the Facts

Site: Raytheon Missile Systems located at several plants in Tucson, Ariz.
Employment: 11,000, including 400 in Facility Services.
Site size: 5.1 million square feet.
Products: 44 different offensive and defensive weapons made for military forces in the United States and more than 40 other allied nations. Some of these products are Tomahawk, JSOW (Joint Standoff Weapon), Paveway, HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile), Stinger, AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) and EKV (Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle).
2004 RMS sales: $4.1 billion.
FYI: Seventy-five percent of the weapons dropped in Operation Iraqi Freedom were built at RMS in Tucson.

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