By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Yokosuka Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) Continuous Improvement (CI) Office recently conducted a five-day CI training session for Apprentice Program (AP) Class 32.
Presentations were given on the final day of the course by the AP Class 32 apprentices, Jan. 29, 2016. This hands-on training provided fundamental knowledge of CI and the skills needed to execute CI activities at their job site on a day-to-day basis.
During the presentation, two apprentice groups showed how they learned to use CI tools to perform tasks efficiently and competently. Their presentations were reviewed and appraised by Continuous Improvement Office Director Michael McBride, as well as SRF-JRMC Production Officer Lt. Cmdr. Shaun Hayes and the Production Department group masters and shop heads.
“We are continuously trying to inspire a culture of CI every day,” said Management Analyst Masataka Kaibara of the CI Office. “This training, however, is for apprentices, and we tried to make it more entertaining. Across various codes and shops, they made good use of this occasion and truly enjoyed the training!”
The training is conducted to familiarize apprentices with CI concepts and tools. Lean Six-Sigma is one of the methods SRF-JRMC relies on for improving performance by systematically removing process waste. This tool became important for not only SRF but the entire U.S. Navy as directed by the U.S. Department of Defense.
During the course, apprentices were split into two groups to simulate a motor-repair process in order to address and improve process issues. For example, apprentices were tested to find “bottlenecks,” which limit the performance or capacity of an entire system. They also conducted “mistake-proofing,” a mechanism that addresses and corrects human errors resulting in product defects and poor product development.
“It was good that we, the 32nd apprentice group, could gather again and combine efforts to jointly accomplish something,” said Hiroki Miyamura, an apprentice from the Temporary Service Shop. “I would like to put what I learned here to use at my work site.”
Tatsuya Arai, a 32nd apprentice of Sheetmetal Shop, said: “On my daily job, some of my coworkers are my AP classmates. But during the CI training, more people who joined SRF at the same time got together again to reconfirm our friendship. One thing I found amazing was that through the process, I can see engineering with more discerning eyes for improvement.”
The AP Class 32 joined SRF-JRMC in Oct. 2015. Modeled from U.S. Navy shipyard apprenticeship programs, SRF-JRMC’s AP was launched in 1985. It is an intensive and thorough four-year training program that builds and fosters highly skilled personnel to meet industrial demands. This program ensures essential knowledge, skills and traditions are passed from seasoned leaders and trainers to the future workforce. Currently, 719 journeymen have graduated the program and continue to meet the command’s mission to “Keep the Seventh Fleet Operationally Ready.”
“In order to adapt to the ongoing changes we encounter every day, we would like our entire workforce to gain more interest in and feel responsible for CI activities,” said Management Analyst and Lean Six-Sigma Black Belt Kazuhito Iwasaki of the CI Office. “Continuous improvement is a never-ending process, and it should continue on a daily basis. We are always happy to support and encourage our co-workers to make that happen.”