Picatinny continues drive for increasing efficiency as budgets get squeezed
December 23, 2011
- The drive to lower government spending has underscored the need for efficient operations.
- Team Picatinny's Lean/Six Sigma efforts have resulted in taxpayer financial benefits of almost $650 million.
- Lean eliminates waste in a process while Six Sigma reduces variation.
The drive to lower government spending has underscored the need for efficient operations, an ingrained process that Picatinny Arsenal has long embraced, resulting in yet another award related to Lean/Six Sigma.
In fact, for 2011, Team Picatinny's Lean/Six Sigma efforts have resulted in taxpayer financial benefits of almost $650 million.
Lean and Six Sigma are two methods for improving business processes that can help the Army and the federal government meet budget challenges by improving the efficiencies and effectiveness of their operations.
Lean eliminates waste in a process while Six Sigma reduces variation.
During a Pentagon ceremony on Nov. 29, Joseph W. Westphal, Under Secretary of the Army, recognized Picatinny employees with an award for their efforts in streamlining Army business processes that helped save the Army money and accelerated the delivery of advanced technology to Soldiers.
"These awards of course recognize the work that organizations and team leaders have been doing in finding real savings, and really getting these business processes to perform much better," said Westphal.
Westphal presented the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Ammunition with a 2011 Army Lean/Six Sigma Excellence Awards Program, or LEAP award.
LEAP is an Army program that recognizes Army organizations and practitioners who demonstrate excellence in the building, sustainment, and use of continuous process improvement.
By using Lean/Six Sigma capabilities, they support the enterprise approach to institutional best practices and lessons learned across the Army.
Westphal said the more the Army can employ best practices and business process improvements, the easier it will be for the Army to meet the challenges associated with declining budgets.
In addition to the LEAP Award, Picatinny Arsenal also recently received the prestigious Shingo Award for superior business and operational efficiencies.
It was also the first Department of Defense organization to win the esteemed National Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award.
At Team Picatinny, Lean/Six Sigma (LSS) methods have been used continually for more than a decade.
The methods mitigate risk, increase overall quality performance, drive down costs, and provide superior products and services to the joint warfighter with greater efficiency and effectiveness.
Practitioners of Lean/Six Sigma are certified as "green belts," "black belts," and "master black belts."
Since the start of the program in 2000, PEO Ammunition and the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) have trained almost 2,400 employees as green belts and more than 260 employees as black belts.
More than half of those trained have also completed official certification projects.
"We have a culture of LSS at Picatinny Arsenal enabled by our training and certification programs that provide people the tools to achieve all the good things that come from leaning our business processes," said Brig. Gen. Jonathan Maddux, commanding general of Picatinny Arsenal who also heads up PEO Ammunition.
"Picatinny, as part of the Ammo Enterprise, is committed to these continuous performance improvement efforts, and in this current environment we have to continuously evolve and improve in order to stay relevant," Maddux added.
The PEO Ammunition organization and ARDEC share 11 resident master black belts at Picatinny to assist in the training, certification, mentoring, and support while implementing projects, said Barbara Gabbard, the LSS deployment director with PEO Ammunition.
Paul Chiodo, Gabbard's counterpart at ARDEC, said the success of any LSS program hinges on support from senior leadership.
He noted that both the ARDEC director and Maddux are in the midst of getting their black belts, an example that cascades down to the workforce.
The institutionalized benefits of LSS at Picatinny Arsenal are many.
Beyond monetary gains, wide-spread use of LSS has, and will continue to, reaffirm its proven track record across the Life Cycle for delivering world-class products and services to our joint warfighters deployed around the globe, Chodo said.
Designated as DoD's official Joint Center of Excellence for Guns and Ammunition, Picatinny Arsenal won six out of 10 awards in the latest Army Greatest Inventions competition.
"Mitigation of program risks are also being tracked, as are quality improvements and customer satisfaction," Gabbard said.
"In many cases the process results in shorter timelines as well."
Gabbard added that this innovative culture--which stresses streamlined acquisition and the use of best practices--recently garnered Picatinny yet another recent honor: the highly coveted 2011 David Packard Acquisition Excellence Award for providing our troops with a better performing, environmentally friendly 5.56mm Enhanced Performance Round (EPR).
This new EPR offers the biggest advancement in small caliber ammunition in 50 years.
"It's more than just saving money" Chiodo said of the LSS process.
"You do it to evoke cultural change, provide a platform for fact-based decision making for leadership, and to give our troops and taxpayers better value for their dollar.
"We want to deliver better buying power by getting the best products to the joint warfighter more efficiently, effectively and rapidly. The financial benefits are a direct result of the systemic implementation of LSS and Continuous Performance Improvement."
Recent LSS project successes at PEO Ammunition and ARDEC include:
Small caliber safety critical characteristic classification: A set of four projects that improved the safety of 5.56mm, 7.62mm and .50 caliber rounds and generated a financial benefit of $40 million.
Re-engineer Systems Engineering Process to accommodate the Rapid Acquisition of PEO Ammo IED Defeat System: This project re-engineered the existing systems engineering process to accommodate the rapid acquisition of PEO Ammunition systems.
It instituted regular gate reviews with other organizations to reduce product duplication and test errors.
This yielded reduced cycle time by four percent initially, and reduced risk by 54 percent.
This project yielded $26.6 million in validated cost avoidance over fiscal years 2011 through 2015, approximately $6.65 million annually.
A Better Buying Power Initiative on 5.56mm EPR will achieve a lower unit cost by aggressively investing in several projects and lowering the learning curve, further reducing cost. This is projected to yield a cost avoidance savings of $193.8 million across the FY11-18 POM.
A Better Buying Power Initiative on Precision Guidance Kit program restructure yielded $56.7 million of executed savings across the FY11-16 POM
The Army Precision Fires Capability Portfolio Review resulted in a quantity reduction on Excalibur projectiles. Cost savings includes $396 million give-back to Army FY11-FY16, and cost avoidance includes $487 million that was planned for remainder of out-years, FY17-FY20.