Efficiencies sought and taught with Lean Six Sigma
October 29, 2007
NATICK, Mass. - Twelve students from various military organizations attended a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Course recently at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass.
The Office of Continuous Improvement at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier, Research and Development Center hosted the first Department of the Army-sponsored green belt course, two one-week classes.
Lean Six Sigma is a combination of two business-improvement methodologies, Lean and Six Sigma. Lean refers to the reduction of waste and Six Sigma focuses on the reduction of variance to improve system performance. Together, they form a powerful approach to process improvement helping to free up resources and ensure quality equipment and services are quickly provided to Soldiers.
"The purpose of this training is to teach students how to apply these concepts and tools in conjunction with the Lean Six Sigma methodology," said Maj. Richard Hall, LSS course coordinator.
A green belt course is the first level of LSS certification and incorporates simulations, examples, team exercises and case studies.
"The outcome of the course is students who can lead projects or solve problems utilizing the LSS methodology, including its five defined phases: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control," said Hall.
To ensure that the students understand the practice, exams and a LSS project must be completed.
Katelyn D'Alessandro, visit coordinator at NSRDEC, is working on a joint project with personnel from SSC, titled, VIP Visit Coordination. The purpose of the project is to improve the efficiency and quality of information flow between SSC and NSRDEC leadership in the coordination of VIP visits, D'Alessandro said.
Although visit coordination often requires last-minute adjustments due to unforeseen circumstances, she continued, "we are excited to use the Lean Six Sigma improvement methodology as a tool for standardizing the elements of coordination that take place before a visit actually occurs."
This in turn will help improve communication and eliminate redundancies.
Green belt training is a critical step towards the implementation of LSS and the success of Army transformation. Students who successfully complete the course and a project receive LSS green belt certifications. A number of students who receive certification in green belt training may choose to progress to the next level of LSS training, black belt.
D'Alessandro said part of what she learned from the training is Lean Six Sigma is not just a tool for manufacturing processes.
"It [LSS] requires a great deal of up-front data gathering and process mapping, but the results are very much worth it. Our instructors were very passionate and helpful in getting us to recognize the benefits of LSS, and I'm excited at the prospect of using this tool to make what I do more efficient and quality driven," she said.