Below are Lean Six Sigma success stories in the Defense industry organized alphabetically. For success stories in other industries, please visit our Lean Six Sigma Success Stories page.
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.
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.
“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.
Seyfarth Shaw is seeing the results of a nine-year project to improve the delivery of legal services, specifically for workplace relations. Using data- and process-driven strategies guided by Lean and Six Sigma principles, the firm is the envy of legal firms in the US and abroad with its lines of production tools and management techniques.
United States Air Force
Air Force improving production with Smart Operations 21
The Air Force used the best parts of several civilian efficiency programs to develop an Air Force-unique process-improvement program called “Smart Operations 21,” Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne said. The program is based on both Lean and Six Sigma business process improvement tools. These tools were developed chiefly in the private sector to focus on increasing value to customers, save time and money, reduce waste and improve quality.
Team Tinker Increases Advanced Assignment Notification Time from 45 to 68 Days Using Process Improvement
Four members of Team Tinker at Tinker Air Force Base have received Six Sigma Green Belt Facilitator certification in Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century. One improvement was advance assignment notification time, which notifies Tinker airmen when they are transferred to a new assignment. Using process improvements, this advanced notification time has increased from 45 to 68 days, well beyond their original 60-day goal.
“With Lean, 6-Sigma, and AFSO21 tools used regularly for dramatic process improvements, the Transformation Office is focused on mentoring and coaching Green Belts to become more proficient in order for them to guide teams toward strategic goal achievement,” said Laura Culberson, who recently retired as OC-ALC chief of staff. “Continuous Process Improvement, properly aligned to Center goals and objectives, is critical; we need a cadre of professional facilitators to help us reach those goals.”
United States Army
The government and military branches are always after small businesses to provide services and products to the them. Sometimes, the playing field is rough, the opportunities aren’t always fair and the competition is hard. To level out the field and reduce confusion among suppliers and communities, Lean Six Sigma principles were used to create the Critical Characteristics Clause (CCC) in an effort to reduce ambiguity for suppliers to government agencies. Surveys of stakeholders are now happening!
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.
The root of both Lean and Six Sigma reach back to the time when the greatest pressure for quality and speed were on manufacturing. Lean rose as a method for optimizing automotive manufacturing; Six Sigma evolved as a quality initiative to eliminate defects by reducing variation in processes in the semiconductor industry. It is not surprising that the earliest adopters of Lean Six Sigma arose in the service support functions of manufacturing organizations like GE Capital, Caterpillar Finance, and Lockheed Martin.
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.
At the Maneuver Center of Excellence in Fort Benning, Georgia, twelve employees from the Directorate of Training and Development department are learning about Lean Six Sigma. On their journey to earn green belts, they hope to then bring about more efficient processes in organizations within the Army. Internal processes will also be looked at and time will be give to improve professional development opportunities within the 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.”
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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
United States Navy
ONR’s Lean Six Sigma Program is guided by its Command Business Strategy, which sets forth goals, objectives and initiatives to guide our organizational improvement and responsiveness to our stakeholders. Its goal is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of ONR’s core business processes thereby increasing science and technology product transitions to the Navy and Marine Corps. Our goal of increasing the speed and quantity of quality science and technology products that transition to the Navy and Marine Corps hinges upon improving our internal responsiveness and agility. It is with that focus that the maturation of ONR’s Lean Six Sigma efforts strives to embrace continuous process improvement principles to further improve productivity, encourage innovation and foster a culture of change in the pursuit of excellence.