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Industry News: Inaugural Operational Improvements Awards Bestowed

OGDEN, UT-The first Robert E. Fox Awards were presented at Weber State University’s Symposium on Continuous Productivity Improvement. The awards were bestowed on First Solar Inc. and the 309th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, organizations that have demonstrated exceptional performance in converting operational improvements into bottom-line results.

First Solar Inc., (Phoenix, AZ) a producer of solar panels, was recognized for turning zero shareholder value into $6 billion in four years. Through the use of the Theory of Constraints (TOC), First Solar was able to continually focus its efforts, turning its precarious position in 2003 to the present success. Initially the company’s problem was in production, then the constraint moved to engineering and finally it shifted to the market. By constantly focusing on the current constraint it was able to prove out its technology, develop the needed production facilities and bring product to the market ahead of the competition.

The 309th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (Hill AFB in Layton, UT) is responsible for the A-10 Warthog Aircraft. The organization was recognized for using TOC to overcome the challenges brought by DOD budget cuts at a time when the demand for the A-10 Warthog was increasing. When lean manufacturing techniques did not deliver enough improvements, the organization added TOC Critical Chain Project Management methodology. Today, it is producing more A-10s, faster and at less cost than ever thought possible, with greater efficiency and cost savings expected.

For information concerning next year’s awards, visit

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