Manufacturing Response to Supply Chain Crisis Reduces Navy Support Equipment Lead Times by 50%
Updated: Jan 4
As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted supply chains in 2020, Defense Manufacturer DeVal Lifecycle Support launched a strategic initiative to improve its internal processes in anticipation of supply chain disruptions. While analyzing data on legacy manufactured items, the company discovered that it could significantly reduce its internal cycle times and be more responsive to customer needs by reducing order lead times.
The MHU-191 is common support equipment used to transport munitions from storage spaces to aircraft on flight decks. It is designed to be able to navigate small and narrow spaces. DeVal has been manufacturing the MHU-191 for the U.S. Navy since 1965, and it is widely used across the fleet, including on the new Ford carrier ships.
Continuous Improvement Manager Mark Walker, explains: "We’re constantly focused on continuous improvement within our companies, and as we really dug into the data on our manufactured armament support items, we realized that we could decrease our internal cycle times and in turn be more responsive to our customers. What started as an internal lean improvement project really helped mitigate a lot of the supply chain issues that we're continuing to see 2 years later."
To further this effort, DeVal partnered with U.S. Army Major Kenneth Gannetta and his team of cadets from the United States Military Academy West Point to identify bottleneck assemblies and weldments through critical path analysis on one of DeVal's foremost legacy products. This information helped DeVal improve our just-in-time inventory system, which ensured that parts were delivered as needed and reduced both internal handling and days-in-inventory requirements. Also, by using built-in safety days to account for unexpected supply chain delays in delivery, DeVal was able to maintain low-cost, long-lead items on hand to keep production running smoothly.
“Exceeding our goal of decreasing lead time by over 50% on a major legacy product has been an incredible collaborative team effort including almost every area of our company, and we are extremely grateful for the help we received from Major Gannetta and his students."
As a result, DeVal has been able to anticipate and mitigate supply chain issues during the pandemic while also improving its internal processes. With smart safety stock, purchasing long lead items shortened the project duration by 42%. Critical path methodology, as a project management tool, helped in sequencing assemblies and weldments and increased machine time utilization. Lead times for customers were shortened by almost 60%!
By tracking and navigating the just-in-time inventory, the DeVal team continues to anticipate supply chain shortages and apply the lessons learned to continue to navigate supply chain volatility. We’re extremely excited to continue to support the warfighter with sustainable cost-effective manufacturing solutions to help our customers improve their mission readiness rates.
DeVal is proud to have partnered with the United States Military Academy on this project and is grateful for the collaboration to improve our internal processes and offer faster delivery to our DoD customers.
About DeVal Lifecycle Support:
DeVal Lifecycle Support, a Parts Life, Inc. Company, is a full service build to print mechanical manufacturer of armament and ground support equipment, sub-assemblies, and major parts and components for military systems and sub-systems for over 60 years. As a small business certified HUBZone contractor for the Department of Defense, DeVal LCS is a full-service original equipment manufacturer with extensive high precision machining capabilities used to support our prime and government customers. Products include munitions trailers adapters & add-ons, drawbars, cargo loaders, weapon transport adapters, bomb hoist, dollies, self-propelled weapons loaders, testing and tool sets, and more. DeVal operates under regimented performance guidelines constituted by ISO9001:2015 and AS9100D Certified Quality Management Systems Programs.