Below are Lean Six Sigma success stories in the Military industry organized alphabetically. For success stories in other industries, please visit our Lean Six Sigma Success Stories page.
Air National Guard
In the last year, the Louisiana National Guard (LANG) has implemented Lean Six Sigma to save time, reduce waste, and improve readiness. One project, led by Black Belt Sgt. Major David Mula, saves the Louisiana National Guard over 500 man-hours and $370,000 in labor costs annually.
The Louisiana National Guard has been studying other programs in their organization, such as vehicle and installation maintenance, to find opportunities for improvement. They hold project identification meetings to identify these opportunities, which also undergo process improvement workshops. After their first meeting, Mr. Chris Biggs, a Master Black Belt, helped them to make these meetings shorter and more effective—saving them even more time.
With a constrained financial environment, limited resources and taxpayer funding, Sgt. Mula is working hard to ensure that every dollar spent is a necessity, and Lean Six Sigma is the best tool on his belt.
Maj. Kathleen Pearson Fabrizi is the Pennsylvania National Gaurd director of continuous improvement. She noted that members of the 193rd special Operations Wing, Harrisburg Air National Guard Base, Pennsylvania, implemented Lean Six Sigma practices in an effort to create more time for training during their regularly scheduled drill (RSD). Obtaining this extra time dedicated to training has resulted in an increasingly capable force. The Lean Six Sigma program is structured to prepare service members for success in an array of global challenges. The program has also helped build and construct a keystone of the National Guard: readiness.
“Airmen of the Illinois Air National Guard’s 182nd Airlift Wing are always on mission and ready to answer the call.” Their readiness is supported with Lean Six Sigma methodologies. Since they started used Lean Six Sigma 9 years ago, their isochronal inspection process improved by 40 percent and led to the C-130 best mission capable rates in the entire Air Force!
Defense Contract Management Agency
Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) and Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) representatives are currently partnered in a collaborative effort to review and improve workloads and processes. Joan Sherwood, DCMA director, shares that the team’s improvement methodology is called Business Process Reengineering- a Lean Six Sigma analysis approach.
Defense Logistics Agency
Twice per year, over 20 employees across the DLA’s (Defense Logistics Agency) five supply chains receive Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Training. The goal of the training is to promote a culture of continuous process improvement. Attendees were required to attend the 40-hour class and pass the test with a score of 70% or better. Erica Vazquez, Medical supply chain intern, said, “We learned about basic process flow mapping and how to relook at problems that are taking up time or creating a bottleneck within your workflow.” Erica adds on to this by saying. “Not only are we able to identify a problem; we learned analytical skills, better survey usage and how to put information into graphs so that you can present information and data better to prove why the change is necessary.”
General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products is investing in production equipment and accelerating its enterprise-wide focus on Lean/Six Sigma-based process improvements at its Saco, Maine, gun manufacturing facility to increase the plant’s capacity. The site serves as General Dynamics’ core production site for single- and multi-barrel aircraft and crew-served weapon systems.
Every day in more than two dozen countries from the U.S. to the People’s Republic of China, ITT Industries Inc. is fielding teams of champions. They are black belts and other employees who are making a comprehensive performance-improvement initiative known as Value-Based Six Sigma (VBSS) work. In 2001 alone, the program produced about $135 million in cost savings for the $4.7 billion White Plains, N.Y.-based engineering and diversified manufacturing firm.
A sliding device to help navy sailors to evacuate quickly from a sinking ship has been developed by the Navy. The six development team members that modified the slide led the slide to win best prize for its Lean Six Sigma performance evaluation for the year.
Letterkenny Army Depot
Out of fourty-four project nominees, the Process Support Division Black Belt Team at Letterkenny Army Depot recently won the Army Efficiency Award for their improvements made to a process that will result in $4.5M in cost avoidance over the next five years.
“We have a formal lean Six Sigma program at Lockheed Martin that we call Lockheed Martin in the 21st Century (LM21),” says John Vogel, director of enterprise excellence at LMSIO. “Here in Owego, we have three formally trained Master Black Belts, 53 Black Belts, and 435 Green Belts out of a population of about 4,000 employees. Through September 2007, we have run 1,154 structured improvement activities (lean Six Sigma events), yielding over $95 million in savings helping us to improve our productivity and competitiveness.”
Global defense company Northrop Grumman builds efficiencies and reduces costs using Six Sigma.
United States Air Force
The Scott Air Force base is embracing Continuous Process Improvement throughout its use of an Engine Room. The Engine Room is centrally located for senior leaders to have weekly huddle meetings. The meetings are set to create strategies and solutions. The meeting functions in a streamlined fashion by using a card system to solve problems and to take away from wasteful meetings throughout the rest of the week.
At the Joint Base Pearl Harbor in Hickam, Hawaii, U.S. Air Force process managers conducted The Continuous Improvement Senior Leaders Course, which aimed to help improve organizational effectiveness and efficiency. They spent time strategizing around the voice of the customer, eliminating non-value adding steps, and increased cultural awareness and focus on process improvement. “It’s helpful to see how CPI can be put into action to improve an organization,” said Col. Soderholm. The course included a tour in which learners received an overview of operations, challenges, changing technologies, and the way they are addressing change using Lean Six Sigma as the catalyst.
United States Army
The 21st Theater Sustainment Army Command won two Lean Six Sigma excellence awards last month, August 2016m from the U.S. Army’s Office of Business Transformation. The awards are given after an assessment of units overall implementation of Lean Six Sigma and taking into account financial impacts of the units’ improved operations.The 21st Theater took home both awards after being highlighted as “effective,” “committed” and “making every dollar count.”
US Army Capt. Michael Smith, the material management branch deputy of the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, was recognized for his article on improving Army aviation maintenance. As a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Smith realized that his unit was losing money because of how supply support activity clerks were processing parts. By using Lean Six Sigma strategies, he was able to identify the root cause of the problem and help make Army processes more efficient, saving both time and money.
Lean and Six Sigma across the Army yielded a cost savings of $1.1 billion dollars in 2015. There were 1,374 projects submitted for consideration and just 10 projects chosen as winners which yielded the savings. What will the savings be like in 2016 and what kinds of projects will be selected this year?
Military aviation maintainers are earning their Yellow Belt Certifications. Soldiers from the 1108th Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group, one of four in the U.S., earned their Yellow Belts to improve efficiency and readiness within its organization. The 1108th plans to “continue refining and embedding its new processes and increasing its capabilities with tooling and equipment in order to better support the warfighter and remain fiscally responsible as a government organization.”
Five Lean Six Sigma projects at U.S. Army Garrison Bamberg achieved praise for top-level performance in Europe in 2009. Out of the five projects, four of them impacted the operations of Europe garrisons heavily. The impact of the projects “eliminated redundancy, optimized resources, and reduced paperwork.”
“Everyone knows that saving energy is a good thing, but most people will only be motivated when you can demonstrate just how much energy is being wasted, and how much potential there is for improvement.” The Building Energy Monitor (BEM) Program at Fort Campbell is raising the energy awareness of all installation occupants to achieve high energy savings. The BEM program manager is also pursuing Lean Six Sigma training to improve the program by “learning new tools to measure progress, analyze causes of poor performance, improve the program based off of results from the analysis and control the program for long-run success.”
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is now offering quarterly and monthly Lean Six Sigma courses for civilian Marines and service members. Lean Six Sigma will help service members meet goals and improve their overall performance leading to an overall better branch of service in the United States.
The Corpus Christi Army Depot was among eight organizations honored as the Army’s top 2015 implementers of Lean Six Sigma, yielding a cost savings or avoidance of some $1.1 billion. The team led an improvement project on the AH-64 Apache gun turret flange repair process that saved millions, reduced labor costs and decreased process lead time.
The United States Army is seeking to change their current “use it or lose it mentality.” This mentality is in regards to Army budgets. If you don’t use the money, you lose it! “Every dollar counts” in the Army and Lean Six Sigma contributes to current process improvement and the “re-engineering of business approaches and methods.”
Lean Six Sigma techniques continue to make an impact in improving the conservation and handling of hazardous materials associated with the maintenance of the UH-72 Lakota aircraft at Fort Rucker, Alabama. With the collaboration of multiple different teams within Redstone Arsenal and Fort Rucker, Lean Six Sigma has helped to improve mission performance and enhance environmental quality in regards to the UH-72 Lakota Aircraft by utilizing just-in-time acquisitions of environmentally sustainable products. By reducing wait times to save an estimated $9M in cost avoidance and minimizing the environmental footprint, Fort Rucker continues it’s mission in continuous improvement.
In a recent Lean Six Sigma project conducted by the 7th Transportation Brigade, the team sought out to analyze the poor performance of the six modular warping tugs. In order to develop improvements to the Army watercraft maintenance processes, the project team used the DMAIC process to cultivate solutions for implementation and control.
After validating the pilot plan, the project improvements not only increased familiarity to the processes, but saw a marked improvement of 40% in average operational readiness. More importantly, it reduced the MCS non-availability time from 48 hours to only 4 hours!
Overall, the project success benefited both organization’s operational effectiveness and efficiency. After the successful implementation of the project improvements, both commands will consider future process improvement projects using Lean Six Sigma.
On February 6, 2018, John Dugan of the Army Materiel Command was recently inducted into their Hall of Fame. He attributes the commendation not only an honor for himself, but for those who he has worked with and those that have mentored him.
After retiring in 2008 as the deputy to the commander of the Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, Dugan reflects on his time ensuring the right equipment was received at the right time for soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines throughout his career.
Utilizing his skills in continuous improvement with the toolkit of Lean Six Sigma, Dugan reduced redundant operations, improved the quality and timeliness of products and reduced overhead to help an accumulated savings of over $125M in validated costs during 2008 alone.
As a commandeering leader, Dugan assisted in the strategic management of human resources, addressing issues like underutilized talent and helping create minority co-op programs.
“I always wanted to make sure the workforce understood how their actions contributed to the joint warfighter,” Dugan shares. “The question I always asked myself when I left work was, ‘Did the decisions I made today have a positive influence on Soldiers?'” Dugan’s relentless approach to improving the lives of others shows why he deserves his induction to the Army Materiel Command’s Hall of Fame.
Congratulations, John Dugan!
In a recent Continuous Process Improvement Project conducted by a PEO Avation team, the success was measured by the elimination and reduction of duplication in a process that involved work for provisioning requests within the Cargo Helicopter Project Office.
Over the course of 2 years, the team saw it’s manpower decrease by over 50% due to attrition as well as promotions. With multiple channels of tickets being submitted, the workload increased and it was at this point the team initiated the Continuous Process Improvement Project.
By identifying a ‘single-entry’ request point and rolling out an easily searchable database, the team has realized more efficient workflows, less duplication of processes, transparency of provisioning requests, increased resources capacity and an improved on-time delivery performance.
The Regional Health Command-Pacific’s (RHC-P) Command, Kelly Wheeler, is a music lover and Master Black Belt with passion for personal and professional improvement. She believes that, “within medicine and process improvement, there is a desire to be better and to do better ingrained in you.”
Wheeler has earned a Master’s in Music as well as Business Administration. Her career started as a trombone player in the U.S. Army Europe Band, but her desire to explore the world and new opportunities has led her to the RHC-P in Honolulu, Hawaii. Here, she trains and mentors Green and Black Belt candidates through process improvement projects. In 2017, these projects have saved the RHC-P more than $10 million in financial benefit and improved quality, cost, and access throughout the organization. One project includes her physical therapy referral management initiative that now saves the company $1.7 million annually by reducing network physical therapy provider costs.
Wheeler is wildly dedicated individual who has achieved incredible things professionally as both a musician and a Master Black Belt. She is leading an amazing life, and it’s exciting to see what she will do next with her unique skillset.
Army Lieutenant General Tom Spoehr once told Senior Army Leaders that Army Operations are comparable to a Fortune 20 Company. With that said, a recent seminar was held for Army Leaders to “discuss important topics impacting leadership, the management of Army business operations and business system information technology.” Some of these leaders are trying to find ways to use Lean Six Sigma to automate process steps and increase overall efficiency.
District Project Manager Bernadette Gronewold is the only green belt certified employee in the Albuquerque District, USACE. During the process of achieving her Green Belt certification, Gronewold’s project goal was to reduce labor cost percentages on small projects in the District from the current average of 14 percent to 11 percent. This project would result in $537,000 in cost avoidance per year. The project will continue on as more data is gathered and process are improved to reduce the pre-award labor costs on small projects.
The U.S. Army continues to use Lean Six Sigma to improve Army operations. The 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, recently sponsored Lean Six Sigma project using DMAIC related to Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSS-Army) turn-ins.
The Warrior Medic Medical Treatment Facility prides itself on being the command’s premier medical facility charged with delivering quality and safe patient care. However, recently the MTF has fallen below target performance on access to care, one of the U.S. Army Medical Command’s critical objectives. Using newly developed Lean Six Sigma skills, students discovered a way to improve one of the simulated MTF’s processes that affected the access to care issue.
The 21st Theater Sustainment Command and U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) have successfully completed multiple Lean Six Sigma projects. The projects were a part of a focus on fiscal stewardship and continued readiness. One of the main projects using Lean Six Sigma optimized the theater-level organizational clothing and individual equipment (OCIE) inventory. This article from the Army Sustainment magazine visits each step of DMAIC and the 21st Theater’s process towards optimization.
Struggling to streamline the LAR/FSR request process, the Pennsylvania Army National Guard embraced Lean Six Sigma to minimize the delay in cycle time. Led by Master Sgt. Charles Anthony Will, an 8 step process similar to DMAIC was used to identify the root cause to their issues, gather support from the community and strategize around the next steps to develop a solution. By involving his soldiers in the process, Will has been able to reduce cycle time and inspire his cohorts understanding and buying into the Lean Six Sigma methodology.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District was recognized for its process improvement effort to streamline supply purchases. Nashville District implemented a pilot program to utilize Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)’s Facilities Maintenance Repair Operations Program, which resulted in more than 70 transactions to purchase critical supply items such as intake crane cables, remote switching and racking devices that reduce arc flash hazards, air winches, sump pumps, and fall protection and rescue systems. Utilizing DLA to procure these items reduced the time it took to award contracts and for supplies to be delivered. The project reduced contracting office labor from 45 hours to 25 minutes, enabling contract specialists to focus on more complex procurements.
By improving business processes, the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) has experienced cost saving and the elimination of waste throughout processes. To meet goals and save cost, the Center used Lean Six Sigma and Value Engineering tools. AMRDEC employees contributed a variety of cost efficient benefits including reliability improvements, technology insertion, reduced administrative burden and time deliveries.
Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (RIA-JMTC) in Illinois looks to eliminate waste in order to improve performance in delivery cycle time. Equipped with a Value Stream Analysis (VSA), a lean-management method used to examine the current state of a product, RIA-JMTC is aiming to jump start the process. Headed by Richard Nesbitt, RIA-JMTC deputy commander, the VSA provides them with a framework and understanding that could save from 45-60 days of delivery time for certain projects. As leadership and subject matter experts examine the data, they continue towards their goal of process improvement with Lean Six Sigma.
Lean Six Sigma helped improve the depot’s equipment receiving process. The number of days it took to induct equipment dropped from 57 days to 28. Improvements made during the last four years to incorporate the Army business improvement methodologies of Lean Six Sigma and Value Stream Analysis resulted in an average savings of 31.5% since fiscal year 2008.
United States Navy
The priority for Navy Hospital (NH) Jacksonville has always been to provide fast and efficient healthcare for our nation’s heroes and their families. NH Jacksonville incorporated Lean Six Sigma tools in an effort to streamline the Periodic Heal Assessment (PHAs) process. The PHA team realigned patients based on birth month and launched a walk-in clinic. Using this strategy, the PHA team was able to reduce patient wait time, increase access to appointments with the primary care manager, and much more.
Kayla Kirk is a Petty Officer 3rd Class currently assigned to Naval Hospital Bremerton as Urgent Care Clinic assistant leading petty officer. As part of a Lean Six Sigma team that conducted a quality improvement project, Kirk was recognized for her knowledge and effort in helping to streamline the requirement of providing inoculations to incoming plebes. The result of the project not only effectively reduced time spent on providing vaccinations but lessened staffing needs and sped up the entire process for all patients involved.
A group of junior enlisted Sailors and senior officers working on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington attended Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Training to learn ways they can improve naval practices. “The Navy decided to use [Lean Six Sigma] training to improve workflow due to changes that have occurred over the years,” comments Robert Rubano, an Aviation Electronics Technician 1st class. Implementing these processes would help the loss of inventory, becoming more efficient in off-loading equipment and inventorying it. In addition to improving Navy procedures, Lean Six Sigma training also helps Sailors learn how to organize their office and give a new perspective on how to improve day-to-day operations.
At the Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (PEO C4I), Lean Six Sigma Green Belts and Black Belts have saved millions of dollars and hundreds of man hours associated with the procurement of new information technology systems.
“Process improvement doesn’t happen in a bubble,” executive director of PEO C4I, John Pope shares. Through multiple smaller projects, PEO C4I has been able to realize the bigger picture: big savings overall. By having all the stakeholders working together on the projects, it adds efficiency and effectiveness to the teams overall performance.
The PEO C4I Front Office CPI team aims to have trained personnel in as many offices, on as many projects and from as many teammates as possible. “I have some ideas about where we can increase efficiency, but I’m looking forward to examining them with my new knowledge,” Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Width shares, who is currently enrolled in Lean Six Sigma Training. PEO C4I continues it’s Lean Six Sigma journey through it’s continuous commitment to certifying more Green and Black Belts.
The Naval Surface Warfare Center recently hosted a “Rapid Improvement Event” and gathered personnel from various departments that deal with hazardous materials (HAZMAT) in an effort to improve cycle time, safety and overall performance for the future. Led by James Schwartz, NSWC PHD CPI Lean Six Sigma MBB, the group’s efforts look to create healthy dialogue while addressing current state issues. The Warfare Center continues it’s journey with Lean Six Sigma, an ongoing process that will soon yield the results it’s aimed to achieve.
United States Marine Corps
From October 2013 to March 2014, the Marine Corps Base Hawaii military post office embarked on an operations improvement project. The base Business Performance Office, United States Postal Service and additional subject matter experts worked to improve the operations. The group utilized Lean Six Sigma to systematically look at process and come up with new ways to improve. Improvements now include approximately $7,000 in annual fuel savings and about 1,500 labor hours.
Marine Corps Base Quantico offers training in Lean Six Sigma for civilian Marines and service members. The government has seen that it needs to be more efficient so Base Quantico is standing up and taking on change. Several other Marine headquarters and commands are also being trained.