DLA Aviation poised for process excellence

By Richard Schwing, Material Management Division chief, DLA Aviation at Oklahoma City

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Sixty key leaders and subject matter experts throughout Defense Logistics Agency Aviation and DLA Headquarters Strategic Plans and Policy attended the first-ever Senior Process Excellence Course at the Lotts Conference Center on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, Sept. 8 - 9.  The course covered key concepts supporting Aviation Process Excellence and concluded with an exercise involving teams using interconnecting blocks to build toy houses.  It showed how communication, common goals, and constraint resolution are key enablers to process improvement.

Air Force Col. Ken Ruthardt, DLA Aviation at Oklahoma City commander said, “We have seen the tremendous improvements in Air Force depot maintenance processes and metrics, and are excited to bring these same concepts to DLA Aviation through the APEX initiative.” The initial construct for APEX was built around the Air Force’s “Art of the Possible” concept that originated in the Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker, Robins, and Hill Air Force Bases located in Oklahoma, Georgia, and Utah, respectively. Navy Cmdr. Matt Brickhaus, DLA Aviation at San Diego commander, echoed Ruthardt saying, “APEX will enable my team to develop tiered communication reviews, local governance boards and transformation teams to achieve ‘road to’ goals."

The SPEC is a key training course for the overall APEX initiative.  APEX is built around cornerstones including tiered communication and governance, performance management (i.e., metrics synchronization), constraint identification, process gating and flow, and continuous process improvement tools and concepts.  DLA Aviation at Oklahoma City is the lead for APEX development and implementation. The team took “Art of the Possible” training materials and transformed them into something that would resonate across DLA Aviation.

Jiley McNeese, director of Procurement Operations at Huntsville, Alabama, DLA Aviation Strategic Acquisitions Programs Directorate, saw immediate value in the concepts when he said, “APEX and this valuable CPI training will help us improve our acquisition processes, so we can provide enhanced warfighter support.  The training was very organized and detailed.” 

“Process improvement is a core part of our culture at DLA Aviation,” said Cathy Contreras, DLA Aviation Strategic Acquisitions Programs director. “The APEX training will take that culture to the next level.  Understanding our gated processes and asking key questions will help us continue to improve our performance.”