Original Date: 06/05/2006
Revision Date: / /
Best Practice : Traffic Control Avoidance System Advanced Process Analysis
Rockwell Collins’ Cedar Rapids facility uses advanced process analysis and diligent determination to eliminate variation and waste from the value stream of aircraft instrumentation, which has resulted in improved flow, fewer defects, and reduced costs to the customer.
Rockwell Collins’ Cedar Rapids facility recently completed an advanced process analysis (APA) project on the Traffic Control Avoidance System’s (TCAS’s) collision-avoidance equipment. In February 2005, TCAS products and processes were found to have chronic variation issues that resulted in high rework, scrap, warranty issues, high work in process (WIP), capacity constraints, and low yields. Rockwell Collins engineers found that their process was reactive and led to “fire fighting,” did not contain any process indicators that would provide early notification, and lacked coordination. To resolve these program problems, the engineers embraced the APA methodology.
APA is an industry-proven process analysis system used to improve business and design and manufacturing processes and products based on the Six Sigma define, measure, analyze, improve, control, and report model. The define step entails detailing the case for action, specifying the problem area, assembling a cross-functional team, and communicating the need for change. During the measure phase, data is gathered and baselined, which lays the foundation for future improvements. During the analyze phase, specific decisions are made about the data collected. The trends indicated many people were spending time “fighting fires” daily, which hampered improvement.
Improvements were implemented and measured for effectiveness, including the early identification of errors and defects, improved coordination among all stakeholders of the process, and a more proactive approach to solving problems among others. The control phase institutes and codifies these improvements while verifying the sustainment of improved metrics. The project results were then publicized so that a body of knowledge would be gained from sharing lessons learned during the endeavor.
Rockwell Collins engineers applied this methodology to their design process, manufacturing processes, personnel department, and supplier and test equipment. Other benefits unseen by the team at the time were the improved granularity of factors that contributed to the defects, confidence in the process, and knowledge that the model is applicable across any process. Most important, however, is the continuing trend toward decreased defects and increased process yields. Continued validation months later proved that the sustainments are institutionalized into the process and that continued operator diligence is benefiting the overall success of the program. The results of the APA methodology reduced scrap by 6%, reduced the need for overtime by 70%, reduced WIP from 15 weeks to 4 weeks, and increased productivity by 55%.
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