Article Revised: March 28, 2019
In an effort to eliminate waste, save money, and improve overall business processes, the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) has implemented Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) measures that include Lean Six Sigma and Value Engineering tools. The research center has benefited greatly from these process improvement measures, ultimately improving service to its aviation and missile customers.
According to the United States Army website, AMRDEC is the Army’s focal point for providing research, development, and engineering technology and services for aviation and missile platforms. The center’s mission is to “deliver collaborative and innovative technical capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, product development, and life cycle systems engineering solutions in order to equip the Warfighter with the best technology today and tomorrow.”
Thanks to the introduction of Lean Six Sigma and Value Engineering practices, AMRDEC has been able to reduce obsolete items, decrease maintenance costs, and ensure product availability.
Reflecting on the success of process improvement measures, Susan Cole, director of the CPI Division at Army Material Command, said, “The Lean Six Sigma and Value Engineering tools yield financial benefits through cost savings and cost avoidance ultimately resulting in reduced depot/arsenal rates and improved equipment readiness.”
In fact, in 2014, AMRDEC reported $25 million in fiscal savings and cost avoidance, a stunning 215% of their anticipated $13 million goal.
AMRDEC Director James Lackey emphasized the importance of CPI, saying, “In an era of budget downturn, we must capitalize on efficiency of all of our operations. Having CPI skill sets is important for AMRDEC to keep the lean focus.”
One successful example of Lean Six Sigma implementation focused on an AMRDEC process that had already been studied from an engineering perspective and was thought to be essentially waste-free. When AMRDEC engineers trained in Lean Six Sigma reviewed the process, they were able to introduce improvements resulting in a 98% time avoidance and a cost avoidance of over $7.5 million over a six-year period.
Melissa Hildreth, an AMRDEC general engineer and Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, worked on this project and was full of praise for the CPI methods utilized. She explained, “CPI tools make us valuable and viable to the customer. When you can help them become leaner, produce better products and services at a reduced cost, you become invaluable to the consumer, customer and ultimately the warfighter.”