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Lean And The Marine Corps

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Lean and the Marine Corps

Lean is a thinking process focused on the entire system. The physical assets and human resources found in a system and how they can be better employed will be discussed and an understanding of the Lean methodology will be gained.

The Marine Corps and the entire Naval Aviation Enterprise cannot afford to run business with the current system. We have struggled for years running the business as usual and we cannot get where we want to be due to many factors. We have insufficient budgets to perform the required activities under the current policies. We have excess inventories and excess "Work In Progress" that is treated as an asset vice a liability. We have no significant surge capacity. Most workers are over worked due to excess non-value added (NVA) work. We cost too much and take too long to complete required work. We tie up excessive fleet inventory due to NVA work processes and the inability to complete work in a required time.

These problems are being examined and processes put in place to prevent the old methodologies from returning due to complacency or stalwartness. The saying," You can't teach an old dog new tricks" is going away. Lean is a total business strategy/methodology to achieve significant continuous improvements in performance through the systematic elimination of all waste resources and time across the entire Naval Aviation Enterprise. Why is it that after decades of doing business "the way we have always done it" is the process under such close scrutiny and propositions of radical change are not being swept under the carpet once again? Through examination and analysis it has been discovered that waste is the culprit. We waste our physical assets and our human resources.

The roots of Lean go as far back as the early 1900's. Henry Ford believed in the continuous flow production and the elimination of waste. Samuel Colt believed in uniformity and the interchangeability of parts. Dr W. Edwards Deming believed that "It is not enough to just do your best or work hard. You must know what to work on." (SkyMark, 2006) The U. S. supermarkets operate with pull systems. Toyota production systems are world renowned for their high quality, efficiency, and low waste. Lean thinking is modeled after the Toyota production system, focused on the total elimination of waste, focused on the standardization of operations and is providing a foundation for rapid continuous improvement in quality, productivity, and customer service.

Incorporation of Lean principles in the Marine Corps means re-examining the utilization of physical assets and human resources. When looking for ways to better employ physical assets there are many things to be considered. A basic question must be asked. "What is the customer willing to pay for?" A customer is willing to pay for value added work. This means that riveting, welding, and assembling are value added processes. A customer is willing to pay for the rivets and the labor to do the riveting while the customer is not willing to pay for the storage of the rivets. Storage of the rivets is a non-value added work process. Other examples of non-value added work are moving of pallets, searching for tools and parts, inspecting, waiting, and duplication of data entry.

Physical assets are commonly thought of as machines or equipment that a worker uses to perform a given task. When looking at the bigger picture, physical assets can be the facilities or location of those facilities. When a worker comes to work, there is a certain series of events that must be accomplished before work can even begin. Machines have set-up times, tools must be inventoried and inspected, consumable parts must be in the right place, workers have to be accounted for and appropriate adjustments must be made if key workers are obligated to other events. These things take time. They are non-value

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