In northeastern Pennsylvania, at the end of a winding road, a 63-year-old plant perches atop a hill. Shrouded from the quiet town below, in this 350,000-square-foot building Lockheed Martin (IW 500/29) produces advanced weaponry for the U.S. military – naval nuclear systems and air-to-ground weapons.
Here, old meets new. Despite the weathered facade, the aging walls, the floors worn down by half a century of manufacturing, Lockheed Martin develops state-of-the-art defense products using advanced technology. It is an experiment in contrasts.
The plant, since its inception, has been the site of the manufacture of defense products – from Mark-56 Gun Sites in the 1950s to the naval systems it produces today.
But now, in its current iteration, it has found a way to merge its historical success with a culture of continuous improvement.
Despite being a defense contractor and thus held to certain government-established standards, Lockheed Martin works daily to improve every aspect of the operations it controls and to find new ways to be competitive.
Rather than meeting specifications, workers in Archbald strive to "go beyond" and improve the process, Joe Koniszewski, senior manager of finance, said.
"We're delivering better performance at a better price point," Koniszewski said.
Such efforts paid off in 2011 when the Archbald plant won the majority share of competition for the U.S. Air Force's paveway II Plus Laser Guided Bomb program.
Through a Performance Excellence Plan, Archbald had managed to reduce waste, improve weapon performance, increase productivity and reduce costs by 25%, enabling it to secure a greater share of the competitive program.
That commitment to reducing costs and process improvement is evident in even the smallest details on the production floor. From lean work cells to new automated equipment to even supply vending machines, Archbald is designed for efficiency. And Corrective Action Boards stationed throughout the plant aim to keep it that way, with every problem assessed by teams and a solution developed to not only fix but improve the process.