By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (May 24, 2017) – Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC)’s continuous improvement office conducted a day-long exchange event for Quality Control Circle Kanagawa Division at Club Alliance onboard Fleet Activities Yokosuka. This year at the command, 48 circle members from several private and public entities attended.
The Quality Control Circle is a group of employees from various organizations and companies who regularly come together to discuss new ideas and share tried-and-true process improvements to solve closely work-related problems.
“Continuous performance improvement is essential for SRF,” said Capt. Garrett Farman, the commanding officer of SRF-JRMC, during his welcoming remarks. “We expect all of our personnel, from senior leaders to new apprentices, to look for opportunities in performance and engage in improvement actions.”
The turnout mainly consisted of manufacturers. The event promoted interaction and demonstrated how much command-wide effort is devoted to process improvement at SRF-JRMC.
“By sharing ideas among people from different trades and listening to a variety of people, we could deepen and widen our frame of reference here,” said Toshimichi Yamagiwa, the chief secretary of Quality Control Circle Kanagawa Division and an employee from KYB Corporation, whose products include shock absorbers, air suspensions and hydraulic pumps.
Kazuhito Iwasaki, one of the four Lean Six Sigma Black Belts in the continuous improvement office, introduced some of the command’s training programs to the circle members. One is “LEAN 101,” which is given to all hands to improve the management of time, work and resources.
The event also entailed a workshop where participants discussed how they could encourage and enable improvement activities in their own workplaces.
“I really appreciate the idea where the workshop facilitator likened each member to a bee and the tables to flowers,” Yamagiwa said. “Everybody brings new and inspirational ideas from different tables.”
Additionally, an improvement activity team, called “Flower and Dragon” from SRF-JRMC’s temporary service shop, demonstrated their improvement on water pumps. This bottom-up initiative enables pump users to remove water with foreign material out of ships’ tanks without losing suction power. By attaching strainer equipment between the pump and the inlet, pump malfunctions are reduced, saving 18 percent of lost pump work according to one of the group members.
At the end of the day, the circle members were escorted around the base and shops on a tour, both on foot and via shuttle bus, during which they got to visit various facilities onboard FLEACT Yokosuka.
“This was quite an eye-opener,” said Seiji Nishi, from the quality assurance department of Nissan Shatai, a partner company with Nissan Motors. “This time I became aware of my unawareness. People from different organizations gave me new perspectives. I would like to take what I learned from here to my place and share them with my coworkers.”