Manufacturing Success Story: Vertex

AIS Division Went Lean in 2019

Employees of Vertex Aerospace are excited about the many success stories the Company has had in its first year as a stand-alone company. Vertex was acquired from L3Harris by New York-based private equity firm American Industrial Partners in July 2018. Part of that sale included Vertex’s now Aircraft Integration & Sustainment (AIS) division in Crestview, Florida, previously known as Crestview Aerospace. The joining of these organizations created a full-service, aftermarket aerospace defense company that now offers aircraft modification, high-end aircraft engineering, and weapon and sensor packages. 

After the sale in 2018, Vertex AIS leadership assessed the organization and identified a need for a lean growth strategy, which presented an opportunity to partner with local Florida organizations. In January this year, AIS launched Operation Lean ‘19 in partnership with the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council (NWFMC)and FloridaMakes to train its employees to strategically think lean in support of continuous improvement and company growth.

The lean growth initiative began with two one-week long training sessions at the division’s Crestview site that each included 15 team members from various AIS departments and program areas. 

“The intent of this training was to provide AIS employees effective techniques to identify problem areas and develop cost-savings solutions,” said Robert Cobb, AIS manufacturing manager. “We are composed of a knowledgeable and talented team of mechanics, operators, engineers, and so many others who, when engaged and empowered, can accomplish anything.”

AIS team members have also attended various off-site training events this year offered through their relationship with the NWFMC, including Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training, Process Mapping training, and Training within Industry: Job Instruction. Two AIS employees were also certified through the TWI institute in Job Instruction: Train the Trainer, qualifying the Crestview location to conduct on-site certification training that is recognized through the TWI institute.

“At Vertex, we are firm believers that employee engagement and a performance-based culture encourage new ideas and continued growth,” said Brian Anderson, AIS senior vice president and general manager. “Since taking advantage of these invaluable training opportunities, we have seen a significant increase in improvement projects from several of our AIS teams.”

Some examples of those lean initiatives include: 

•  The AIS ballistic foam shop team developed a process to standardize and reduce time spent performing repairs that has resulted in savings of 1.2 minutes per repair, a reduction of 828 machine programming hours, and 75 percent average savings time per repair part.
•  AIS’ warehouse team developed an alternate method to improve time spent on cycle counts that resulted in an extensive reduction in time spent conducting inventory while ergonomically enhancing working conditions.
•  The CH-47 team refined its method for tracking hours worked on various projects to develop standards and a more efficient scheduling process.

“With the support and guidance of their supervisors, these teams used their training to present an idea, implemented that idea, and were able to directly see the positive effects,” said Cobb. “The key to these improvements is our hands-on team members who experience challenges every day and work together to find cost-effective and efficient solutions.” 

The Operation Lean ’19 effort has been a success for AIS and is a valuable training model for other Vertex Aerospace business areas. The AIS team is excited to see the successful results of the lean projects implemented this year and looks forward to new training they can accomplish next year.

About Vertex

Vertex Aerospace offers a global capability and complete solution for aftermarket aerospace services for Government and commercial customers. The Company’s international presence and vast range of services have distinguished it from competitors for over 44 years. The Mississippi-based Company operates in over 100 locations worldwide and is proud to have a 50 percent veteran employee rate. Information about Vertex can be found at