Bqm 167a parachute recovery system lean event 8 12 jan 07 joseph thibault 691 arss
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BQM-167A Parachute Recovery System Lean Event 8-12 Jan 07 Joseph Thibault 691 ARSS. 728 Armament Systems Group. BQM-167A Chute. Background. Current LMSI Contract Requirements : 210 SSATs Annually with a max surge of 16 per week Current Systems: MQM-107 & BQM-34A Capability

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BQM-167A Parachute Recovery System Lean Event8-12 Jan 07Joseph Thibault

691 ARSS

728 Armament Systems Group

BQM-167A Chute


  • Current LMSI Contract Requirements: 210 SSATs Annually with a max surge of 16 per week

  • Current Systems: MQM-107 & BQM-34A Capability

    • Pack 8 -- 10 per week with surge to 16 for both systems

    • MQM-107 -- 8 hour pack & 16 hour soak time

    • BQM-34 – 4 hour pack

  • BQM-167A Parachute System (June 2006)

    • 1.5 - 2 packs per week max

    • 45 total consecutive hours from start to finish to pack

    • Total of 75 – 100 sorties per year at a rate of 1.5 - 2 per week


  • BQM-167A Chute Designed To Recover worst case configuration (EA pod)

  • Requires:

    • Robust Reefing Line System -- Install Reef Line & Cutters & Verify

    • Vented Main Canopy

  • Main Canopy Is 5’ Diameter Larger But Must Fit In Same Size Can As MQM-107

  • Drogue Chute – Similar Process As Main

Lean Event Charter

  • Sponsors:

    • Col Netzer – 728 ARSG (Eglin)

    • Col Winslow – 53d WEG (Tyndall)

  • Facilitator: Mr. Keith Johnson and Mr. David Arnsdorf, New Vectors

  • Team Leader: Mr. Joseph Thibault – 691st ARSS Logistics IPT Lead

  • Scope: Understand the process of packing the parachute system from out of the box until it is in the bag and certified

  • Team Goals:

    • Identify current workflow

    • Reduce time to prepare/pack AFSAT Parachute

    • Identify efficiencies/minimize workload impact to parachute shop

  • Results:

    • Identified current workflow

    • Evaluated preparations and pack times

    • Identified efficiencies/waste

    • Other recommendations and changes to reduce process and flow time

Team Participants


Team Participants

Current State Value Stream


  • Flow time

    • Time it takes from Start to Finish to pack a complete parachute (from Supply)

  • Touch Time

    • Workers time actually touching the parachute

    • Includes two workers, working both the drogue and main parachute (Consecutively and collectively at times throughout the process)

  • Press and Soak Time

    • Total time both the drogue and main parachute were being pressed under the pressing ram

    • Soak Time is the time the parachute is sitting under pressure

    • Includes the 2 hours overnight soak for the drogue and 12 hours overnight soak for the main

Current State Times28 Hours to Pack

Shop Processes

Spaghetti Diagram

Engineering Opportunities

Design Improvement Opportunities (1)

  • Design Engineering Opportunities to eliminated or eased packing difficulties by system design changes

    • Key constraint is not to impact system form, fit, function, performance or qualification status

  • Main canopy deployment bag diameter

    • ¼ inch increase in diameter leads to 5% increase in available volume

      • Could lead to a significant reduction in soak time

      • Could impact consistent integration with the aircraft

    • Build oversize deployment bag and assess value and risk

Design Improvement Opportunities (2)

  • Design improvements / changes noted during review

    • Main and Drogue Canopies

      • Reefing cutter pocket changes

        • Slip on/off protective sleeve in place of fiberglass tape wrapping

        • Reduce amount of stitching to retain reefing cutter

        • Consider ring on anvil end of reefing cutter and use clip in place of stitching

        • Consider Velcro for cutter pocket closure in place of hand stitching

        • Investigate reusable temp tie to replace maroon cord on main canopy

    • Drogue Canopy

      • Install kill line during manufacture

      • Continuity check and daisy chain lines and as part of manufacturer’s final QA check

Design Improvement Opportunities (3)

  • Design improvements / changes noted during review (cont’d)

    • Reefing Line assembly / installation

      • Assess (test) potential for reduction in number of splice stitches

      • Use Teflon tape wrap only if Teflon grommet is not present

      • Use common consumables and techniques for installation of drogue and main reefing lines

    • Drogue Canopy Riser

      • Identify and use rubber grommets instead of taping Cut Knife

        • Supply with new equipment, and stock as consumable item

    • Other consumables / equipment issues

      • Source de-cored 550 lb Nylon (MIL-C-5040 Type IIa?)

      • Supply pre-cut 80# tapes for suspension line ties

      • Provide scissors designed to cut Kevlar

      • Manufacturer to pack refurbishment kit items in ‘ready to use’ state

      • Design and supply re-useable temporary ties (use Velcro or a buckle)

      • Design and supply ‘Extraction Fixture’ for packing press

Design Improvement Opportunities (4)

  • Design improvements / changes noted during review (cont’d)

    • Main Canopy Deployment bag

      • Reinstate application of Serial Numbers

      • Increase size and evenness of stow loops

    • Drogue Canopy Deployment bag

      • Reinstate application of Serial Numbers

      • Increase size and / or number of stow loops

      • Add hand tacks during manufacture to bag handle

      • Increase size of loop on canopy compartment closure flap

      • Increase size of slit in opposite canopy compartment closure flap

    • Reefing Lines (Main and Drogue)

      • Make markings bolder and less subjective (avoid color coding)

Design Improvement Opportunities (5)

  • Soak times

    • Investigate the potential of reducing soak time based upon measurable parameters (30 minutes,1 hr, 2 hr and 12 hour soak times)

      • TO change to allow riggers options to soak as require, as long as pressure is not exceeded

    • Pressure can not substitute for Time

    • Collate data on ‘packing difficulty’ (subjective) as a function of perceived key measurable parameters:

      • Parachute weight

      • Temperature

      • Humidity

    • Track significant sample by parachute and deployment bag serial numbers

      • WEG to track the baseline over time

Future State Value Stream

Action Plan53d WEG

  • Create a pan with foam cutouts for tools to allow easy movement from locked cabinet to cart

  • Procure needed specialty tools: - T- Handles, Hemostats, Packing Fids, Bodkins, Sewing Palms, Line Hooks, etc.

  • Put sewing machine on wheels

  • Review manning options to meet current requirements

    • Third person for folding main canopy, to pre-assemble leash and as a support/repair person

    • Second shift

  • Track status of parachutes being packed

    • Land/Water recovery and issue by Supply

    • Track flow times and press and soak time to establish baselines

Possibility of one to one and a half hours (1 to 1.5) savings in process time

Action Plan691st ARSS

  • Engineering Study via the AFSAT contract:

    • Look at all options to improve efficiencies and eliminate waste during the packing of the parachute

    • Look at all of the recommendations documented during this Lean Event

    • Status: 691st plans to task the contractor to provide recommendations and cost estimate; will review and make cost effective changes, as appropriate

  • Establish procedures to allow fast response to technical questions from packers to engineers

    • Status: Via on-site CEi CLS representative

Possibility of up to seven (7) hours savings in process time and

four (4) hours of Touch Time


  • Current LMSI Contract Requirements: 210 SSATs Annually with a max surge of 16 per week

  • How many Riggers do we need?

    • 53d WEG review total workload with LMSI

      • Takes two people, two days and one over night soak to pack one chute

      • Should be able to pack 2.5 chutes per week

        • 80 hours (2 people x 40 hours)

      • Use 80 hours per week to produce 2.5 chutes as a guide until specific data can be collected and validated

      • Variables

  • BQM-167A Parachute Packing Options

    • 117 Chutes Annually

      • 3760 hours (2 people x *1880 hours)

    • 176 Chutes Annually

      • 5640 hours (3 people x 1880 hours)

    • 210 Chutes Annually

      • 6720 hours (3.57 people x 1880 hours)

* 1880 hours is the normal standard used to document one man-year of effort


  • Overall Future State Estimated Reductions

    • Flow time: 2 hrs 20 min (8%) to up to 8 hrs 20 min (30%)

    • Touch Time: 4 hrs and 20 min (15%)

    • Press and Soak Time: 49 minutes (3%) to up to 6 hrs 40 min (24%)

  • Flow Times: Current and Future State

28 Hours

Jan 2007

20 Hours

Future State



Lessons Learned

  • Use the SMEs to analyze and improve each step

  • Benefited from Irvin design and production personnel as team members

  • Stay out of the way of the workers when observing

  • Limit team sidebars – stay focused

  • Synergy – brainstorm methods of reduction

  • Allot enough time to do the event (45 hour process)

  • Technical expertise in process and design for materials is needed

  • Break into 2 groups to analyze drogue and main chute simultaneously

  • Record times on brown paper when timed at press

Reefing Line & Cutter

Box Stitch reefing line splice

Reefing Line Cutter

Leash Assembly

Leash Assembly 125’ Long

WEG Safety Concern

BQM-167A Chute

Current/Future State TimesExpected Improvement

Current State Times – 28 Hours and 1 Minute

Future State Times – 25 Hours and 45 Minutes

  • Expected improvements represents a reduction of 2 hours of overnight soak times and 4 hours 20 minutes reduction In touch labor; reducing Flow Time by 2 hours and 16 minutes

Current/Future State TimesBest Case Improvement

Current State Times – 28 Hours and 1 Minute

Future State Times – 19 Hours and 40 Minutes

  • Best Case represents a reduction in 7 hours of overnight soak times and 4 hours 20 minutes reduction In touch labor; reducing Flow Time by 8 hours and 21 minutes

Variables to Packing Times

  • Variables

    • BQM-167A only, no other work load considered

    • Best case time of 28 hours for packing a parachute

      • Will take longer to pack a parachute from land or water recovery

      • Does not consider finding damage and repairs

      • Touch time is 17 hours; other times the parachute is being Pressed and Soaked (top two sub bullets will off set this time)

    • Does not consider normal set up, clean up, inventory, phones, e-mail, meetings, etc.

    • Hours observed were documented while workers were under a stop watch and they took very few breaks, hardly answered the phone and no other interruptions

  • Establish Metrics to track times

  • Validate times after changes are made and learning curve completed

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