By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) Continuous Improvement (CI) Office hosted a Quality Control Circle (QCC) forum for Kanagawa prefecture-based manufacturers at Fleet Activities Yokosuka’s Chief Petty Officer’s Club, June 9, 2016.
The annual event is an opportunity for the command’s CI office to simultaneously showcase ship repair process improvements and the unique culture characteristic of Yokosuka Naval Base.
“We conduct forums like this four times a year,” said Yoichi Oyama, one of the QCC organizers from Press Kogyo Co., Ltd. “Through exchange among different corporations, we would like to encourage quality control activities and nourish individual skills in the field. This time we have many fresh faces here. We would like them to bring what they have learned to their own work places and put it into practice.”
QCC Kanagawa Division events provide and facilitate communication among corporations and organizations to vitalize and inspire improvement activities by sharing their efforts in the field. They have about 80 manufacturer and university members at plant branches and university offices in Kanagawa. The members promote and study quality control activities, the familiarization of quality control amongst all workers and the improvement of corporate cultures.
At the event, more than 60 members from the circle’s organizers and supporting corporations in Kanagawa gathered to learn how the command’s CI office applied their concepts in ship repair.
“Our command is committed to continuous improvement,” said SRF-JRMC Deputy Commander Capt. Edward Katz in his opening remarks “QCC is a fantastic forum for networking and exchanging ideas. We expect all of our personnel – from senior leaders to new apprentices – to look for opportunities in our performance and engage in improvement actions. We ensure our support codes and production shops work together to find the best practices that will allow us to be the best performing U.S. Naval ship maintenance provider while keeping the 7th Fleet operationally ready.”
During the forum, SRF-JRMC team members presented their command’s CI framework which included their “self-assessment.” “Self-assessment” is when CI teams annually and quarterly report and identify weaknesses of each team and set two goals to ensure the command’s ship repair process works better and efficiently.
Additionally, the command introduced their history of improvement activities and conducted CI training on team building, focused on the importance of team work. In the team building exercise, four teams must either compete or work together to think of clever ways to achieve “win-win” situations. This demonstrates to participants how to think creatively to improve what appears to be a straightforward process.
The command also presented two improvement case studies, in which the first involved temporary electrical boxes. Separate electrical power boxes of 100 volts and 200 volts were combined into a single unit to reduce workers’ time and workload. The second case described pump strainer improvements, in which the strainers were modified to prevent them from becoming clogged with debris without losing suction power.
“I think it is rare for an organization to have an independent section responsible for improvement activities,” said a participant from an auto manufacturer. “I was also amazed at how the SRF-JRMC CI team can affect every part of a project and get the job done.”
“It is very special, though, to have an event like this where we spend a whole day in one building and have presentations in addition to a tour around the facility,” Oyama said.
The forum also provided a tour of the base, including the command’s carpenter shop and around the dry docks. In the carpenter shop, attendees witnessed a demonstration of a capsized life raft inflation and viewed emergency pack equipment, which included a mirror, food, seawater filter and fishing gear.
“Compared to other corporations or organizations,” said CI Office Management Analyst Kazuhito Iwasaki “we are fortunate to have a specialized section responsible for improvement. “At many private corporations, people conduct improvement activities in concurrence with their ‘primary’ job. Our office, however, has a special section responsible for these activities. We should not accept things as they are but should try harder to pursue our mission to advance continuous improvement in SRF-JRMC.”
SRF-JRMC’s improvement activities began in 1991 when a Total Quality Leadership office was independently established, in accordance with the U.S. Navy’s introduction of total quality leadership in 1990. Since then, the command underwent organizational changes and established the CI office under the commanding officer’s direction in 2006.