Can you imagine delivering 5,000 of anything – let alone an integral window that helps keep the Lockheed Martin F-35 capable and ready for action?
The F-35 Distributed Aperture System (DAS) Windows team recently celebrated a program milestone with its 5,000th DAS Window delivery. The DAS Windows team is currently at full production rate, delivering more than 100 DAS Windows per month. The DAS Window set consists of six polycrystalline silicon, low-observable, infrared transparent windows for Electro Optical (EO) DAS sensors on the F-35. Each shipset of windows enables the EODAS sensor to provide threat detection and 360-degree situational awareness to the pilot.
The amount of coordination to make 5,000 deliveries possible is extremely substantial. From the build of the product to the logistics of the delivery, the team worked day-after-day to meet customer needs and provide pristine products.
Lockheed Martin Program Manager Jenna Thompson said reaching this milestone, especially in these unique times, was no easy feat. Below she breaks down her recipe for success.
Teamwork is Key
Reaching this milestone took an immense about of collaboration across all functions. Every person who contributes to the full F-35 sensor program is part of the DAS team and enabled the DAS Window team to reach this milestone. Every team member is unique with irreplaceable experiences, knowledge, perspective and opinions to contribute.
“We have many brand-new college hires and even one 30-year-plus experienced engineer; everyone brings something unique and valuable to the team,” Thompson said. “Through teamwork and cross-functional collaboration, many processes and procedures were updated over the last year that increased the program’s efficiency and output, effectively enabling the team to reach this milestone ahead of schedule.”
Jenna said it’s important to appreciate everyone’s contribution and take advantage of their differences—it’s what makes a team successful.
“There is a direct link between planning and achievement and that’s especially true for this team,” Thompson said. “The DAS program took the time to develop an execution plan and that careful planning has proven to be a critical component by reducing risks and increasing success.”
The plan is thorough and allows Missiles and Fire Control, the Lockheed Martin business area that delivers the DAS Window to the Aeronautics business area, which ultimately delivers F-35 to customers, to effectively communicate with Aeronautics as well as throughout the entire supply chain.
“Of course, it’s more time consuming up front, but a carefully laid out plan where every team member knows their role and responsibility will save stress, time and costly rework later,” Thompson said. “A strong plan enabled the team to be informed and prepared, so when a problem arises, we can act swiftly because we know where we were and where we are going. Planning helps to gain stakeholder and resource commitment as it instills confidence and credibility.”
Learning to Adapt
After delivering thousands of DAS Windows (the team hit its 3,000th delivery milestone last year), it would truly take something major to throw off our rhythm.
“The DAS Window team quickly learned that we must adapt if we want to continue to deliver and meet our contract requirements,” Thompson said. “New ways of executing data transfer and supporting the floor effectively but from a distance was just the beginning.”
Employees took on stretch roles and obtained different accesses while learning new processes quickly so that others could continue to support from afar. The team remained flexible and open to new and different ways of getting things done and this proved to be critical in Lockheed Martin reaching this milestone.