Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD) is the Department of Defense facility for Tactical Missile Air Defense System manufacturing, repair and overhaul support. LEAD is designated the Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence (CITE) for Air Defense and Tactical Missile Systems, Mobile Electric Power Generation Equipment, Route Clearance Vehicles and PATRIOT Missile Recertification.
Letterkenny provides worldwide support to soldiers and organizations by sending Depot expertise forward to sites within the United States and overseas. Employees are equipped to hand-off Depot refurbished equipment, provide assistance in equipment operations and support the soldiers and war efforts by assigning personnel to bases and support facilities.
LEAD’s customer base includes the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Armament Command, U.S. Army Communications and Electronics Command, Special Operations Command, Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical Biological Defense, and other government and public sector entities.
The Depot continues to make further strides along the path that led to its renowned reputation as a lean and efficient industrial operation with an unwavering customer focus. Through the application of lean as well as an empowered workforce, the Depot conducted hundreds of improvement studies generating millions of dollars in savings to the taxpayer. The Depot has received recognition on nine other occasions by the Shingo Institute.
PATRIOT Launcher New Build Manufacturing
In 2009, LEAD leveraged its experience and capabilities gained from the Maintenance, Repair & Operations (MRO) of PATRIOT Air and Missile Defense Systems to successfully partner as a subcontractor with Raytheon, who would manage the majority of the supply logistics while LEAD would provide skilled manpower and infrastructure necessary to integrate, test, paint, package and ship missile launchers.
Low rate initial production of assets began in late 2010 with full rate production beginning August 2011. LEAD met or exceeded the incremental delivery requirement by completing the initial contract for 37 assets on June 28, 2013 (three months internal to Raytheon’s contractual commitment to the USG).
During the first two years of full rate production, LEAD was presented supplier awards by its corporate partner. As a result of excellent performance and competence to offer solutions to the customer’s evolving requirements, Raytheon provided ongoing funded contracts for 50 additional assets through July 2015, with proposed further foreign military sales workload.
The Directorate of Industrial Operations, Air Defense Systems Branch, integrates the sub-assemblies and operationally tests each asset and is dedicated to the New Build program. Other work centers across all Depot programs perform the quality control, packaging, supply, fabrication and paint operations but are not dedicated to the performance of the New Build program.
This is LEAD’s first submission in collaboration with a private corporate partner for a product to be recognized for operational excellence. It is also the first time that an Army Depot built a new PATRIOT air and missile defense system major end item. Delight the customer led to more business and recognition from the customer.
The Depot employs approximately 3,700 skilled artisans consisting of government employees, contractors, military personnel and a variety of tenant employees. Employee technical and administrative skills include electronic assembly, system test, repair and diagnostics, mechanical/pneumatic/hydraulic component assembly/troubleshooting, power generation expertise, manufacturing, engineering and design contracting, supply and transportation services, information management, program management as well as many others. The employees of Air Defense Systems Branch consist of Department of the Army civilians, as well as contractor-supplied personnel, are required to complete a cross-training program for each work process performed in the shop.
Safety and Environmental:
Why is this important?
LEAD’s lean culture provided a natural transition as the workforce began to stand up the new build program utilizing lean tools, systems and principles. With the highest priority on safety, the first steps focused on ensuring a safe as well as productive working environment. The process all started with a value stream analysis of the production line to instill lean up-front to ensure the process is efficient.
It was important to ensure that all work centers involved in the process were identified and understood what was expected as the new partnership with Raytheon accompanied a different type of work than previously performed. Specific contract requirements were incorporated into the lean focus as many were new requirements to the Depot. Additionally, with the ever-increasing demands on existing work space, it was important to focus on maximizing the utilization of the space allocated to the program.
Through successful efforts the Depot was able to accept additional out-of-scope work from the customer and perform it in the existing space with the same number of people. Letterkenny’s efforts continue to evolve as the program is executed, benefitting from experience and lessons learned.