Lean Six Sigma Enhances 689th Rapid Port Opening Element Organizational Readiness

By Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert McNaughtonMarch 21, 2016

Lean Six Sigma
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Lean Six Sigma
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Lean Six Sigma
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Lean Six Sigma
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FORT EUSTIS, Virginia (March 21, 2016) --Lean Six Sigma is a business process which focuses on mentoring organizations and people in the much sought after end-state of increasing both their profitability and productivity.

Improving speed, quality, and results is the goal of the process, especially when placed against the backdrop of today's economic landscape, whether in a government, business, educational, or individual application. Efficiency and cost-effectiveness are critical in these times- this applies also to military organizations, to which the Lean Six Sigma principles can be applied.

The methodology used to arrive at the state of increased productivity and profitability is built on the steps found in the acronym DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control).

According to the proponents of this esteemed system, the steps in this methodology will yield the desired results - improving speed, quality, and results - if applied to a problem or issue that is identified in a business or organizational endeavor.

Each step in the method is intended to ensure that the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Simply "completing" a project to better an organization is not enough- improvements from analysis and subsequent controls must be enacted upon.

Various degrees of belts are given out by a number of belt-awarding institutions. The dgerees of belts awarded typically range from a White Belt to a Master Black Belt, with some amount of variation within the different institutions.

Training for a specific belt generally initiates with a classroom portion, followed by the creation, implementation, and all-important follow-up of a real-world project that will benefit that individual's employer, both financially and in terms of saved personnel hours. A process is streamlined by improving a problem or issue that is known or identified to exist within a specific business process.

Recently, 10 Soldiers from the 689th RPOE completed the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command sponsored Lean Six Sigma training.

Eight of these Soldiers completed the first phase of the Yellow Belt Certification, which centered on classroom instruction, with one of these Soldiers also completing the the second phase which consists of a real-world project that will save personnel hours and money for the organization. Additionally, two Soldiers also obtained their coveted Lean Six Sigma Green Belts.

The intent of the first Green Belt project was to increase cargo throughput - the number of pallet positions per hour that can be processed for onward movement to the customer) for the 689th RPOE by 25%.

The goal of this project was to increase this number from 8 to 10, yielding an organizational cost savings of $228,700 for the 833rd Transportation Battalion.

When applied to all three RPOE's across the 833rd Transportation Battalion during their training events, exercisies, and deployments, the financial benefits are multiplied exponentially.

The second Green Belt project entailed improving the Joint Task Force Port Opening (JTF-PO) reporting process.

The goal of this particular project was to streamline the necessary JTF-PO lead time and to reduce the required service member personnel hours required for this task.

The savings realized from this project come in at an estimated $88,416.00 for a 45-day deployment, due to the reduction in required work hours devoted to this process clocking in at a whopping 3600 over a 45-day deployment.

The math here estimates an average hourly wage of $24.56. The time saved by service members on this reporting process can be used by them to facilitate the completion of other critical tasks.

Again, this savings can be realized separately for each of the three 833rd Transportation Battalion RPOE's.

The Yellow Belt project end-state was to improve the 833rd Transportation Battalion Mobility Readiness Standing Operating Procedures.

Achieving movement readiness of personnel and cargo for transportation was hindered due to the lack of an existing written standards to expedite the preparation of personnel and cargo for deployment readiness- an average of nine of 72 unit cargo pieces per Joint/Inspection, or 12 percent of the cargo was held up for one reason or the other.

This meant that those 9 pieces would not be loaded aboard an allocated aircraft.

A single source Mobility Officer RSOP was then devised, covering all three RPOE's.

On December 15, 2015, a joint inspection was conducted by the 689th RPOE that resulting in 74 out of 74 pieces of unit cargo being ready for aircraft load, indicating that the sought after improvement had been realized.

The economic impact of this increased readiness could save the government the cost of a single Air Force C-17 flight - at an average of 9 pieces of RPOE cargo per aircraft- saving the government an estimated $261,921 per aircraft. As in the above examples, if this is prorated over movement to and from destinations, the savings can be substantial.

Related Links:

Official Homepage of the U.S. Army

597th Transportation Brigade Facebook Page

690th Rapid Port Opening Element Facebook Page

833rd Transporttaion Battalion Facebook Page

Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command Facebook Page

U.S. Army Facebook Page