August 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 4 
Integrated Defense Systems

We’re saving time. We’re saving money

Employees in El Paso devise ways to cut costs


It’s as if Rene Vargas was saying, “show me the money.” Vargas, the site leader of the Boeing facility in El Paso, Texas, tells his team of nearly 400 people that success at Boeing begins and ends with each employee. “Think and act as if you owned this business,” he said. “If you alone were responsible for the company’s profitability, how would you eliminate waste and increase efficiency?”

In recent years, employee ideas for improvements have saved more than $826,000. They’re projected to save the site, which manufactures a variety of electronic products and components for several Boeing business units, about $2 million by 2007.

“We’re saving time. We’re saving money,” Vargas said. “But, even more important than the economic value created when employees think innovatively is the sense of pride and ownership they feel.”

Here’s a look at a few of El Paso’s many improvements.


The task: Errors recording the specified torquing done on nuts, bolts and screws on production hardware were costing the El Paso site more than $113,000 annually. The old process was entirely manual, resulting in recording errors, omissions, legibility problems and costly rework.

The solutions:

  • Identify and address all known causes of torque documentation errors.
  • Improve training.
  • Make improvements to torque matrix documents and implement shadow boxes (preformed trays with specific locations for each tool).
  • Develop a Web-based torque-recording system that eliminates manual recording, prevents unauthorized out-of-sequence work, and validates operator and witness certification as well as correct tool value.

The result: Implementation of the new system resulted in a return on investment in three months, a cost savings of $93,000 over a year’s time and no torque-recording errors for more than 28 consecutive months.


The task: Bring the site’s annual nitrogen consumption in on budget. The 2004 budget for nitrogen use was $265,000, but mid-year projections indicated the site would use more than $312,000 by year’s end.

The solutions: After a team of employees identified a main source of nitrogen consumption—convection reflow used to solder circuit-card assemblies—the challenge was to reduce use while maintaining compliance to specifications and procedures. Among the changes made to mass soldering equipment:

  • Adjusted settings to the manufacturer’s recommended supply pressure, after realizing settings were creating waste.
  • Operated this equipment only a few hours per shift instead of leaving it on around the clock.
  • Set purge valves to the correct pressure/ flow and turned them off when not in use.

The result: The El Paso site avoided costs of $111,000 by the end of 2004. The total estimated five-year net savings will exceed $700,000.


The task: Streamline work order processing and eliminate errors due to illegible, transposed or omitted assembly data.

The solution: Make the El Paso site paper-sparse by developing the eWorkOrder, an electronic form that provides data-entry capture points to ensure accurate data recording. The system automatically validates data entry into the system.

The result: Savings in dollar amounts are not yet available, but eWorkOrder is creating a much more efficient system for fabrication, inspection and test. Electronically stored information is more secure and changes can be made immediately. With its success at El Paso, the system will be implemented later this year at Boeing sites in Heath, Ohio, and Anaheim, Calif.


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