Hoshin Kanri Key to Success at Orbital Sciences

Oct. 11, 2011
Orbital Sciences' lean practices are essential to its mission.

Orbital Sciences has been on its lean journey for the past seven years and has used Hoshin Kanri in planning its goals. "The CEO goals flow to the general managers of the business then to the directors and onto the managers," explains Ed Kestel, Technical Operations East, Orbital Sciences Corp. "This is how all of our annual goals are set." Annual goals are based on three and five year plans.

In order to keep a close handle on how well objectives are being met the business unit managers meet with the directors the first week of every month to review objectives from the preceding month. If a goal is not met the team needs to show a positive trend in their corrective actions to demonstrate that they are on their way to meeting the goal.

Orbital develops and manufactures small- and medium-class rockets and space systems for commercial, military and civil government customers. The company's primary products are satellites and launch vehicles, including low-Earth orbit, geosynchronous-Earth orbit and planetary exploration spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific and defense missions; human-rated space systems for Earth-orbit, lunar and other missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into orbit; and missile defense systems that are used as interceptor and target vehicles.

Orbital also provides satellite subsystems and space-related technical services to U.S. Government agencies and laboratories.

As the company must be certified and meet NASA standards lean is an important tool. Lean, with an emphasis on six sigma, is used for any process improvement or changes.

While its lean efforts are advanced, the company continues to push forward and has set a goal of achieving a Bronze level. The company has also fully implemented 5S.

About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Focus: Workforce, Talent 

Follow Me on Twitter: @ASelkoIW

Bio: Adrienne Selko has written about many topics over the 17 years she has been with the publication and currently focuses on workforce development strategies. Previously Adrienne was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck? which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics and EHS Today

Editorial mission statement: Manufacturing is the enviable position of creating products, processes and policies that solve the world’s problems. When the industry stepped up to manufacture what was necessary to combat the pandemic, it revealed its true nature. My goal is to showcase the sector’s ability to address a broad range of workforce issues including technology, training, diversity & inclusion, with a goal of enticing future generations to join this amazing sector.

Why I find manufacturing interesting: On my first day working for a company that made medical equipment such as MRIs, I toured the plant floor. On every wall was a photo of a person, mostly children. I asked my supervisor why this was the case and he said that the work we do at this company has saved these people’s lives. “We never forget how important our work is and everyone’s contribution to that.” From that moment on I was hooked on manufacturing.

I have talked with many people in this field who have transformed their own career development to assist others. For example, companies are hiring those with disabilities, those previously incarcerated and other talent pools that have been underutilized. I have talked with leaders who have brought out the best in their workforce, as well as employees doing their best work while doing good for the world. 

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