At Denver International Airport, so much of the work required to keep things running smoothly is done well away from the public eye. In the hidden tunnels, offices, and service corridors of DEN, hundreds of employees work 24 hours a day to ensure that escalators escalate, runways are well-lit and clear, bags make it to their proper destinations, and all those white courtesy phones are connected and operational.

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Troy Sakis of Airport Infrastructure Maintenance (AIM) and Bryan Lape of Technologies are among those unsung hundreds, whose work at DEN goes largely unnoticed… until it isn’t done. But because of their innovations in their respective divisions, Troy and Bryan’s hard work finally got some of the attention it deserves at the first ever Continuing Peak Education Innovation Fair held in January.

Bryan presented an innovation that resulted from a Rapid Improvement Event, in which he worked with a team to drastically improve response time for service calls for DEN’s Premise Wiring Communication Systems (PWCS). The estimated benefits of the team’s innovation include a reduction in process time of over 160 hours per month, with a soft cost savings, meaning employee hours saved, of more than $378,000.00 over the next five years.

Although these cost savings are impressive, the innovation’s stated goal of improving the delivery of customer service remains a focus of the team’s work. Through surveys, improved communication and updated service level agreements, the team’s innovation has moved beyond the reduction of waste, spurring ongoing changes in the division’s customer service approach.

Troy Sakis of AIM represented his division with an innovation that replaced the airport’s disposable chiller system water filters with reusable filters. This innovation not only reduces the time and labor spent replacing filters, but it also results in better filtration, increasing the life cycle of the machines that use the filtered water.

The cost savings of the innovation (an estimated $231,000.00) are associated with filter disposal and the labor-intensive process used to replace the old filters. But Troy’s innovation also means that over 800 filters won’t be going from DEN to the landfill each year, a win with benefits well beyond cost calculations.

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Above: Troy Sakis at the Continuing Peak Education Innovation Fair

For Bryan and Troy, the implementation of these innovations were just the beginning. Bryan’s team has realized an additional 30% reduction in response times since their improvements were put into place. And starting next quarter, Troy’s group will install reusable filters for the HVAC system’s hot water system as well. As Troy said at the event, his experience with Peak gave him a new perspective on his work, which he now applies to all of his processes. “Once you start [seeing things this way],” he said, “You can’t turn it off.”

Written by Cassie Schoon, Process Improvement Specialist, Denver International Airport

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