Georgia Tech Helps Pratt & Whitney Adopt Lean Enterprise Techniques
The Columbus Engine Center serves as a commercial airline engine overhaul and repair shop for Pratt & Whitney's JT8D and V2500 engines. When Tirey learned about EDI's services, the plant was preparing to introduce the new V2500 engine line and wanted to integrate the business in a seamless fashion.
"I wanted a view of the business in terms of how we linked the operation together. We had many parts that were set up functionally," Tirey says. "Our goal was making a business that was more integrated."
Tirey approached Jennifer Trapp-Lingenfelter, the Georgia Tech Economic Development Institute's west Georgia region manager, about EDI's lean enterprise services. In January 2002, Trapp-Lingenfelter, along with lean specialists John Stephens and Paul Todd, led a three-day kaizen event focusing on developing a new plant layout. (A kaizen blitz is a fast and focused process for improving any business component - a product line, a machine or a process. It utilizes a cross-functional team of employees for a quick problem-solving exercise, where the focus is on designing solutions to meet some well-defined goals.) EDI's specialists helped develop a macro-layout that would incorporate the new V2500 engine line.
"With 15 to 20 people, Pratt and Whitney obliterated the old plant layout and laid it out again from scratch," says Trapp-Lingenfelter. "In most companies, it would take probably a year and a half just to get a layout designed and implemented. Pratt & Whitney was able to complete a macro-layout within a few days and implement it within six months."
According to Gary Griesheim, Pratt & Whitney's V2500 project manager, the next step was to develop a detail for the macro-layout. The project involved four cross-functional teams working together to develop detailed layouts for different areas.
"We set up a detailed definition of each of the cells - setting up the flow, how many people were in each cell and defining the subassembly for the machine. Then we literally had it taped out on the floor," he notes. "That was a very big kaizen, and with Georgia Tech's help, we made sure it addressed and executed the details."