By Joyce Lopez, SRF-JRMC Corporate Communications
YOKOSUKA, Japan (Oct. 27, 2017) – This fall season, the continuous improvement department onboard Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) hosted its second improvement activity exhibition, open to the entire command in the temporary service shop.
An improvement activity is defined as a small group project conducted by self-motivated employees on the front line who seek to better their work processes. These projects aim to apply improvement tools, permit people to use their full scope of creativity, and enhance personal and mutual development.
“The purpose of the event is to help stimulate and maintain a culture of continuous improvement within our workforce,” said Kazuhito Iwasaki, the coordinator of the exhibit and continuous improvement office member. “Employees get to come out and show what they’ve invented and explain to their co-workers how they improved their own processes and products.”
Sixteen teams arrived early in the morning to set up displays showcasing their improvement efforts, so co-workers could visit and view first-hand demonstrations.
In one corner, Team Java-sentai, a four-member group from the temporary service shop, displayed their cylindrical water pump machine. Ventilation air ducts can conveniently slide into the machine with relative ease. When activated, the machine blasts the flexible duct with enough water pressure and air pressure to clean the inside and outside of ducts without the mess of splashing.
“It is difficult to clean the inside of ducts because of their shape and the required amount of work space,” Team Java-sentai’s summary sheet read, detailing the fruits of their labor. “We developed this machine to solve these problems. As a result, the amount of water used for washing is reduced from 8.4 to 5.9 gallons, the required work space has also been reduced from 500 to 60 square feet, and what required three people now only needs two.”
On a neighboring table, a battery-powered, bouncing arrow directed passersby to Team Kunizuka’s improvement activity project: a small communication box, propped up on gathered green cloth.
“What once took up so much physical space and many apparatuses has been reduced to this one, small box,” said Takashi Kunizuka, the project’s team lead in attendance.
According to Kunizuka, the device enables SRF-JRMC mechanics and shop workers to smoothly communicate with each other on and off the ship, as one would via telephone. Originally invented by Teruo Kitamura, a former instructor from Team Kunizuka’s shop, this updated model is now hands-free with headset capability and is battery-powered, which significantly reduces trouble-shooting time by 98.3 percent.
“It has also been officially approved by the U.S. Navy to be brought aboard the ships,” Kunizuka said.
Further back in the exhibition space, Team Shimoichi, a four-member team from the sheet metal shop, debut their improvement activity, a special ruler used to draw lines on sheet metal. This tool allows its users to shorten scribing time by 16.6 percent when creating elbow- and eccentric-shaped air conditioning ducts.
The sheet metal shop’s counterpart from Sasebo also made an appearance at the exhibition to showcase their own invention. Called the “Easy Lasher DX,” it is a small, intricately designed metal jig used to rope materials more tightly, securely and easily than without it.
Team 3Ms, made up of three members from Detachment Sasebo’s sheet metal shop and waterfront operations and production division’s training section, explained that their repair jobs often require rope to bind and secure things for safe transportation to and from the ships. While using rope necessitates skill, this jig will allow anyone, with or without the skill, to tie and fasten materials.
“After many trials, our lashing work became super simple,” Team 3Ms’s trifold display read. “The result is a reduced risk of things coming loose, as well as decreased time for tying and binding work—approximately 40 percent less.”
The sixteen improvement activity teams were each awarded a certificate of appreciation by SRF-JRMC deputy commander Capt. David Dwyer at the exhibit’s conclusion.
“We openly recognize and applaud the SRF-JRMC workforce for taking proactive measures to improve the command and to promote that at exhibitions like this,” Dwyer said, to the employees in attendance “We send the message that everyone has the potential and capability to make their own workplace, products and processes better. I look forward to see where your innovations will take you and the SRF-JRMC team.”