AIRSpeed Program Creates Efficient Work Environments Aboard USS Carl Vinson

Story Number: NNS070902-07Release Date: 9/2/2007 12:37:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joel Carlson, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS, Va (NNS) -- USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) began participating in an initiative known as "AIRSpeed" in August. AIRSpeed is a program designed to improve efficiency in the workplace and streamline processes associated with the naval aviation community.

The AIRSpeed initiative, administered by Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE), effectively integrates three of the world's most innovative business and industry practices: Theory of Constraints (TOC), Lean and Six-Sigma.

Since 2003, the initiative has been implemented at Fleet Readiness Centers, aviation support divisions, OCONUS intermediate-level maintenance facilities and Marine aviation logistic squadrons.

"Although the schedule to implement AIRSpeed afloat has not been set [beyond the prototype conducted aboard the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74)], the initiative is self-replicating thanks to the efforts of Sailors and Marines who are bringing the process improvement tools they used in their previous duty stations to their new commands," said Ann Wood, Enterprise AIRSpeed deputy project officer.

According to Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW/SW) Wade Nevins, Carl Vinson's AIRSpeed program manager, the AIRSpeed tools are already making an impact on the current mission of Carl Vinson.

"Identifying inefficient business practices and eliminating them through these tools not only saves money for the Navy, but also ensures our people, our most valued resource, produce a better quality of work," said Nevins.

Consistency and quality is private industry's secret to staying in business, said Nevins. The result of this effort, is an established format that promotes consistency in workflow leading to improved customer satisfaction.

Nevins said that one of the distinct advantages of Six-Sigma is that it eliminates variation by repeating processes in working techniques.

"We all want our burgers hot, fresh, fast, cheap and tasting the same every time," said Nevins. "That's the secret of staying in business, and the Navy can learn from that notion and apply it to our missions."

TOC identifies and exploits any obstacles or limiting factors within a system.

"A constraint is any resource whose capacity is less than the demand placed upon it," said Nevins. "If all the unneeded motion and processes can be identified and eliminated, a more efficient process will result. Lean is also about the continual pursuit of perfection in our processes."

Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW) Joe Weaver, the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department's quality assurance leading petty officer on board, is experiencing the value of the AIRSpeed program firsthand.

"I've never seen such an effective tool for making work centers more efficient," said Weaver.

AIRSpeed adapted better business practices used by major civilian industries, such as Toyota and other automotive organizations. But for naval aviation professionals like those aboard Carl Vinson, the AIRSpeed program not only improves processes, it helps commands meet their missions at reduced cost.

"The difference between the military usage of this program and civilian usage is the end goal," said Nevins. "The Navy is not only trying to save money, we're also trying to accomplish our mission in the most efficient way possible."

Carl Vinson is currently undergoing its scheduled refueling complex overhaul (RCOH) at Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard. The RCOH is an extensive yard period that all Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.

During RCOH Carl Vinson's nuclear fuel will be replenished and the ship's services and infrastructure will be upgraded to make her the most state-of-the-art aircraft carrier in the fleet and prepare for another 25 years or more of service.

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