Lean Six Sigma for Third Army/ARCENT has undertaken a project to analyze the process of transporting theater provided equipment in the Third Army/ARCENT area of responsibility.
The project will analyze radio sets, small arms, counter-improvised explosive device equipment, vehicles (including armored vehicles), night-vision equipment, mine-detecting robots, tents, unmanned aerial vehicles, grenade launchers, radar sets, forklifts and generators.
“In the fiscal year 2012, 9,387 pieces of equipment that total over $493 million were sourced through an Operational Needs Statement, but not found on the property book; essentially lost,” said Andrea Green, cost analyst for LSS. “Changes implemented through the LSS ONS Project to ensure accountability will prevent the Army from repurchase of this equipment.”
Nine master black-belts from LSS and general officers in the area of operation will use the process as a means for the impending retrograde of Afghanistan, which has so far tallied a cost benefit of $261.1 million in the fiscal year 2012, said Tony Merrit, director of LSS for Third Army/ARCENT.
“The benefit is generated from redistribution of TPE that was previously unidentified as excess to the operation for many rotations of units in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Green, a Delaware, Ohio native. “This excess equipment is redistributed from Kuwait to fulfill approved operational needs statement requests for units in Afghanistan and other Third Army/ARCENT areas of operation.”
The task, which is credited as one of the many that have transitioned LSS into an “operationalized” process, will force LSS to strategically execute a methodology that incorporates five regimented phases: define, measure, analyze, improve and control.
“Although Third Army abides by the DMAIC methodology, in this dynamic environment that we live in we will modify the process because the solution is more important than it would be in a corporation,” said Merritt, who has worked with LSS concepts since 1998. “We still follow the same methodology but with decreasing timelines we can get through a DMAIC project in 30 to 60 days as opposed to the prescribed 180 days that it takes across the army.”
These flexible timelines in the LSS process are imperative to the military’s success, said Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Horlander, Third Army/ARCENT director of resource management.
“This Lean Six Sigma process allows us to minimize all of the bottlenecks in this process, so you don’t have a container sitting at the port two months, or don’t have vehicles sitting in a yard waiting to go through the process for a month,” said Horlander, who is a native of Tacoma, Wash. “It also allows people to share and exchange best business practices. So, if something at Kandahar Air Field is successful they will share it with the Bagram Air Field.”
However, Merritt, a Luttrell, Tenn., native, stated that LSS would not have the expedient success in Central Asia if it were not for the enthusiasm of the leadership.
“Third Army and adjacent units have adopted LSS as well as any command that I have ever seen,” said Merritt, who spent three-years in the U.S.Navy. “Their embracement of LSS is directly attributed to their leadership involvement, the senior leadership involvement and their leadership guidance.”
This guidance has allowed Third Army/ARCENT to not only aid in the retrograde of Afghanistan but improve processes within Kuwait.
“The program has helped Third Army/ARCENT because there are a number of processes around here, by-and-large they are called business processes, that we dedicated an effort to looking at,” said Horlander. “However, what we have really done is take this LSS process and ‘operationalize’ it because we have a huge operation right now where we are ‘retrograding’ the Army’s equipment, supplies and personnel out of Afghanistan, and we have geared the LSS to compliment that operation.”
LSS is a synergized managerial concept of Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma that results in the elimination of seven kinds of waste in order to expedite processes and harness finances.
The LSS concepts were originally published in the book “Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma with Lean Speed” authored by Michael George in 2002.
On May 12, 2008, the deputy secretary of Defense issued a directive to all Department of Defense components, establishing policy to use LSS to improve productivity, performance, safety, flexibility and energy efficiency.
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