Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 26’s calibration laboratory went from being the worst in the Marine Corps this time last year to the best in the Marine Corps currently. Their increase from the lowest readiness rate last fiscal year to the highest point totals about 10.5 percent.
"We were at a point where we … were sitting at six percent over due which is not an ideal state at all. Our readiness was approximately 87 percent. The really low end of what (commanders) expect is 90 percent," said Cpl. Schuyler Skipper, issue and receive supervisor and collateral duty inspector. "That’s going to have a domino effect of a lot of negativity."
The Marines readjusted their tracking system to decrease the amount of time an asset was in their shop.
"One thing that helped us out with the turnaround time of gear (was the visual information display system board,)" said Skipper. "We had it broken down into sections of gear, but then we switched to a time-based arrangement. Now you can see the amount of time assets were here in the shop. With that new arrangement, we are able to adjust fire and get out some of the stuff that had been here for a long time and reprioritize what we need to work on so we can increase our turnaround time."
During this amount of time the unit became an "X" calibration lab. A lab that is expanded and has more capabilities that are normally reserved for larger depots.
"We were also able to gain capability by acquiring six standards that allowed us to calibrate around 600 items that we used to send to the depot labs. The depot labs have higher capability," said Gunnery Sgt. Jeffery Crane, Marine Aircraft Group 26 metrology and calibration chief and program manager and collateral duty inspector. "So we essentially gained the capability they had to do the calibration here. That translates to a savings of about $120,000."
The improvement and changes didn’t stop at the unit. They expanded into the shops holding the gear by creating a better gateway of communication.
"There was a lot of lack of communication and a lot of ignorance on both sides. The (calibration representatives) didn’t know the program very well so we started doing quarterly training. We started checking their binders at the monthly meetings," said Skipper.
"We were just bridging the gap. That is a big thing with customer service. You don’t know what they don’t know. You’ve got to communicate. You’ve got to bridge that gap and build that rapport with the customer."
Each week a report comes out from each calibration lab showing their readiness percentage. Out of the 12 Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron and their calibration labs, the MALS-26 lab has remained in the first place consistently while teetering into second place once every couple of months.
"At the end of 2015 I think the low was just under 86 percent. (Our high in 2016) was over 97 percent. The first five months of 2016 was between 87 percent or into the low 90s," said Crane. "Around May was when everything came to term and spiked to about 96 percent. From there on out they’ve been able to sustain the number one or number two calibration lab in the Marine Corps... We’re talking about a tenth of a percent that means the difference between one and two sometimes."
The Marines have maintained the numbers and continue to strive to be the best.
"Our current readiness is 97.24 percent. Our overdue percentage is .13 percent," said Staff Sgt. Andres Restrepo, work center staff noncommissioned officer in charge and a collateral duty inspector. "Those are pretty unheard of numbers."
The overdue percentage equates to seven items overdue whereas this time last year would’ve been at about 150 items, said Crane.
Skipper gave praise to Crane for being a huge part of the change.
"He came here and gave us a vision. He set goals. He incentivized goal accomplishment. I think that helped a lot of these younger guys out because you get into the monotony of things… It just seems like a never-ending cycle," said Skipper. "I think that’s another thing we lacked was a big vision. He gave us something to work toward… It’s amazing what a vision can do to inspire your workforce. I think that was key in getting all these guys to buy in, pitch in and do their absolute best day in and day out."
"The overall goal last year was the simple goal of just being the best lab in the Marine Corps and it took five months," said Crane. "It was a long five months but within five months these guys did it."