INTEGRATED DEFENSE SYSTEMS
U.S. Air Force KC-135s undergo pro-
grammed depot maintenance at the Boeing
Support Systems center in San Antonio.
Through a series of lean activities, Boeing is
shortening the amount of time each aircraft
spends at the center, allowing more flexblity
to the warfighter.
KC-135 maintenance Photos by Tony Romero
New tools, techniques The Air Force, expected to select the
prime contractor for the fiscal year 2008
and technicians only perform work that
adds value, as defined by the customer.
boost customer service KC-135 Programmed Depot Maintenance
program in May, is requiring each aircraft
This process discipline improves quality,
schedule and cost, in turn increasing cus-
and help position the to complete PDM in about 175 days. “At the
beginning of 2005, we averaged about 214
Boeing has transitioned KC-135 PDM
program for the future days,” said Liz Cange, an industrial engi-
neer specializing in lean principles. “By the
from a dual pulse line to a more-efficient
single pulse line that includes eight cells,
By Ed MEMi first Fiscal Year 2007 plane, we will be at or work locations. Instead of cycling work
175 days or less.” teams, tools and equipment between the
oeing and its supplier-partner Pem- A KC-135 tanker typically requires PDM two lines, the aircraft moves from cell to
co Aeroplex Inc. are transforming every five years. Boeing inspects the aircraft cell. Everything mechanics need to com-
the programmed depot-level main- and performs necessary maintenance and plete their work is located in the appropriate
tenance (major-overhaul) processes for the repairs, ensuring readiness for five years cell. The aircraft stays in each cell for an av-
U.S. Air Force KC-135 tanker fleet. or more. Aircraft undergoing PDM are not erage of 12 to 14 days, during what is called
Through a series of Lean initiatives im- available to support combat operations. a “pulse interval.”
plemented at Boeing Support Systems in Boeing’s role, therefore, is to complete its About 60 maintainers and managers
San Antonio earlier this year and sched- work and return a quality product back to helped kick off the improvements during a
uled for full implementation at Pemco’s the Air Force as quickly as possible. one-week workshop. “We asked the people
Birmingham, Ala., facility this fall, the team Lean maintenance is important, said who work on these aircraft to tell us the best
is accelerating the aircraft’s return, thereby Dave Ott, Support Systems Lean Enter- way to flow the aircraft using a production/
enhancing the customer’s capabilities. prise focal, because it ensures mechanics preparation/process (3P) event,” Cange said.
26 April 2006 BOEING FRONTIERS
INTEGRATED DEFENSE SYSTEMS
Brian More, a Boeing
maintenance lead, installs the tools to Lean
a new stinger for a belly
skin change on a KC-135 Here are some of the Lean tools used on the
undergoing programmed KC-135 Programmed Depot Maintenance (PDM)
depot maintenance at program. These tools support the companywide
San Antonio. Lean+ initiative.
aircraft Condition analysis tool: Analyzes the
Integrated Gold history of each aircraft, by tail number, to more
(I-Gold). This third- accurately forecast needs.
party business-planning Boeing on-line management applications:
database provides a This Web-based application gives users quick,
wealth of reports to track easy access to C/KC-135 engineering data. It
progress and improve pro- also lets engineers make faster decisions.
cesses. I-Gold integrates supply chain integration: Supply chain person-
inventory databases with nel are matched with and support the new
the shop floor manage- production system, ensuring material is available
ment programs, allowing as needed.
them to work together as
a total enterprise package Job management system: This software tool
and eliminating paper- provides managers visibility into continuously
dependent processes. updated cost, quality and schedule metrics. With
Using the integrated plan- a click of the mouse, they can determine the per-
ning system, workers build formance against contract requirements for each
job kits based on what the site, aircraft and cell. Users can retrieve data on
data tells them is needed. open or closed work; against a specific tail num-
iCapture. Mechan- ber; and by a specific person, date, aircraft zone,
ics use this third-party part number. The data helps managers plan daily
wireless tablet computer, activities and address problems quickly.
which is linked to I-Gold, nonconformance management system: The
to document aircraft con- program uses this automated tool to log defects,
ditions that require repair create work orders and route work to the appro-
or maintenance. “Our fu- priate teammate. Used with iCapture, it allows
The team is pleased with the results. ture state is to become totally paperless and inspectors to access data that helps speed the
“It is amazing how much of a dramatic to allow mechanics to access graphics and inspection process. The system’s repair history
improvement is made by treating the me- engineering drawings instantly at the point feature helps Boeing predict the incoming condi-
chanic as the centerpiece of the production of maintenance,” Ott said. tion of an aircraft and thus pre-position parts.
system,” said Sam Ferguson, Boeing Lean Kitting. This effort delivers to the point-
manager. “By bringing in everything and of-use all parts, tools and consumables that shop floor management Visuals: These visual
optimizing it for the person who adds the a mechanic needs to perform a task. Kitting aids control the work cell by visually regulating
value on the production line, it’s a huge shift also involves team tools and task boxes, operations and showing their status. Displays
in terms of performance.” which prevents mechanics from checking include location indicators, signboards, status
The floor of the Boeing facility is filled in and out with personal tools or having to boards (inclusive of performance metrics),
with color-coded markings, so team- use a remote tool crib. checklists, diagrams, area maps, etc.
mates know what equipment belongs in task packages. Boeing has divided support cells: Teams of estimators, supply
each area. PDM work into easy-to-track task packag- specialists, disposition experts, quality assurance
“The concept is much like how a sur- es of less than eight hours work. “By break- personnel and industrial engineers are assigned
geon operates on a patient,” Ferguson said. ing the work packages into less than eight- to support the eight PDM cells.
“The tools are laid out in a standard way, hour tasks, you can know halfway into the
and the operation is conducted in a stan- day whether the mechanics will complete
dard pattern. Ideally what you are doing is that job, and you can more easily and ac- “When an unplanned maintenance ac-
minimizing the variation, and therefore you curately determine status of the work,” tion is required, and we have seen it or
get a higher quality product a lot faster with Ott said. Workers can easily see if they are something similar before, we are able to
consistent results.” making appropriate progress, while man- readily access documentation and planning
Boeing is investing $6.5 million to agers know whether they are on schedule information using our iCapture tool,” Ott
implement lean improvements on the and budget. Also, Boeing can better ac- said. “This improved process allows us to
KC-135 PDM program in San Antonio. commodate customer changes by rebalanc- more efficiently define, order required ma-
Pemco is making similar investments in its ing the work line. terial and schedule the repair.” n
facility; once completed in September, that About 50 percent of PDM work is un- email@example.com
site’s KC-135 PDM line will look exactly planned (repairs found needed when the air-
like the one in San Antonio. craft is inspected), and most of that work is
In addition to the pulse line, Boeing has repetitive. As such, Boeing is taking a stan-
implemented dard repair approach.
BOEING FRONTIERS April 2006 27