Raytheon SAS Advanced Products Center: IW Best Plants Profile 2009

Dec. 10, 2009
A Critical Mission: The success of U.S. war fighters drives Raytheon APC's push for continuous improvement.

Raytheon SAS Advanced Products Center, Dallas, Texas

Employees: 947, non-union

Total Square Footage: 342,000

Primary Product/market: Electronics for the U.S. military

Start-up: 1997

Achievements: On-time delivery of 98.2% for year-to-date 2009; met or exceeded internal goal of 95% first-pass yield at Microwave Automated Facility (MAF) for five straight years; ISO 9001:2000 and AS-9001A certification; 98% of workforce certified as R6s (Raytheon Six Sigma) specialists.

The components and subsystems that Raytheon SAS' Advanced Products Center (APC) manufactures are used in sophisticated military radar and communications equipment, providing the "eyes" for the men and women of the U.S. military in the air, at sea and on the ground. For a helicopter pilot landing in a desert in the black of night, the performance of such equipment can mean the difference between life and death.

That's why Raytheon APC's three facilities -- two at the North Central Expressway campus in Dallas and one in nearby McKinney, Texas -- take pride in their ability to provide those soldiers with equipment that offers "no-doubt performance," explains Daniel Burke, director, APC operations.

"So they know that whatever part or device that comes from Raytheon is going to work the first time, every time," Burke says.

Ensuring reliability and quality is no easy task, considering that Raytheon APC specializes in manufacturing and designing complex technologies such as radio-frequency subsystems; microwave transmit/receive modules; specialty radomes; and interconnect substrates (which, according to Raytheon, are among the most difficult in the world to build).

Gary Hurst, enterprise improvement manager for Raytheon APC, sums it up this way: "We build things that other people can't build."

With its end users always in mind, Raytheon APC leverages lean tools, leading-edge technology and an empowered workforce to help meet its goals for more than 28 metrics measured by the facility. Those metrics include on-time delivery, customer satisfaction, scrap/rework, yield, cost and waste reduction.

In terms of the last two metrics, Raytheon APC estimates that it has delivered more than $160 million in cost savings to its customers over the last eight years -- thanks, in part, to waste-reduction efforts driven by lean principles. At APC's largest plant, the Microwave Automated Facility, for example, operators, quality-control personnel and test technicians are expected to generate at least five kaizen suggestions per year. (During a plant visit in November, MAF already had exceeded its goal of 760 kaizen submissions.)

Quality: A Point of Pride

Quality has been another point of pride at APC. Thanks to the Raytheon Six Sigma (R6s) process, and deployment of lean tools such as kaizen events, corrective-action review boards and rework/scrap Pareto analysis, APC has reduced its cost of quality by 61% over the past three years.

At APC's Advanced Multilayer Interconnect (AMI) plant, where operators work with subcomponents so tiny that a spec of dust can destroy them, standardized tooling, automation (such as laser ablation) and improved process flow are among the strategies that have helped improve final wafer fabrication yield by 30% over the past six years (at the time of Raytheon's Best Plants application, year-to-date final wafer fabrication yield for AMI was 85%). The plant boasted five 100%-yielding lots in 2008, "which is unheard of in the industry," according to Steve Brisbay, operations manager for AMI.

"There are only two circuits on a wafer, so you have only two opportunities for success -- one small defect and your yield just went to 50%," Brisbay explains, adding that each circuit presents approximately 8,000 opportunities for a defect. "That's why you hear my voice go up an octave when I talk about that because of how hard it is to achieve that goal."

Web Exclusive Best Practices

Rapid Response

In a clean-room manufacturing environment, APC's production-interrupt system keeps everyone in the loop when production problems occur.

Andon displays are a ubiquitous sight on the factory floors of lean manufacturing facilities, providing real-time data on plant metrics as well as visual cues when something goes wrong with production. However, in a facility where many of the operators are sequestered in clean rooms (to protect microscopic electronic components from contamination), engineers, quality-control personnel and operators aren't always co-located on the factory floor -- presenting physical barriers to communicating real-time production information.

Raytheon SAS Advanced Products Center's answer to the andon concept for a clean-room environment is its production-interrupt (PI) system, which provides engineers and maintenance personnel with real-time notification -- via e-mail and text messaging -- when production stoppages are reported. Operators can link to the PI system through their operator dashboards, and they can report problems regardless of whether they arise from equipment malfunctions or process issues.

The PI system enables "rapid response" when production issues arise, which is critical in a facility that considers on-time delivery to be its No. 1 indicator of plant performance, explains Daniel Burke, director, APC operations.

"When you're building product and you're on a schedule, you have a heartbeat to keep," Burke says. "When you have an issue that impacts that heartbeat, you want to get it resolved as quickly as possible. The production-interrupt system allows us to get the right people involved in the quickest amount of time."

The system also serves as a repository of data, helping APC set maintenance schedules, spot trends and make decisions on where to where to focus its resources and continuous-improvement efforts.

APC management credits the PI system for helping the facility achieve a year-to-date machine availability rate of nearly 99% (at the time of APC's IW Best Plants application submission), and APC managers say the system has helped improve productivity, reduce rework and cut costs. The PI system has been such a success that it has been benchmarked throughout the company: Since APC created the system in 2004, APC has installed a PI database at 54 different Raytheon facilities, according to Chris Smith, APC manufacturing systems manager.

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