REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- The workforce at the Aviation and Missile Command has shown its value once again by winning the top organization award in the Department of Defense Value Engineering Achievement Awards program for the second year in a row.

The award, presented in July during a special ceremony at the Pentagon, recognizes organizations that provide more capability to the warfighter through cost savings or cost avoidances, quality improvements and efficiencies.

AMCOM's value engineering program in 2016 resulted in 106 completed projects with a cost savings of $163 million for the organization. The command's engineering teams also completed projects for multiple Redstone tenants and off-site organizations, realizing another $141 million in savings. Altogether, AMCOM engineering teams led 118 value engineering projects that saved a combined $304 million for the nation's taxpayers while better equipping its warfighters.

AMCOM is the only organization within the Army and the Army Materiel Command enterprise to win the DoD VE organization award for 2016. Other DoD VE awards went to individuals, teams and elements that are also part of the AMC enterprise. The Navy, Air Force, Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Missile Defense Agency also received DoD VE awards.

Tom Reynolds, AMCOM's Value Engineering program manager, said AMCOM's high commodity mission makes it a primary contender for the DoD value engineering awards. But, winning the award two years in a row is a major accomplishment.

"It's very unusual and extremely difficult for AMCOM or any organization to win this award two years in a row," Reynolds said. "It takes years to get the level of expertise for an organization like AMCOM to have these kinds of results year after year."

Two of the projects that helped pave the way for AMCOM's second successive win were an Avenger Air Defense System project that addressed the obsolescence and high costs of repairing the Avenger by implementing a parts reclamation program utilizing Avengers that had bene turned in to the supply system, with a cost savings of more than $20 million; and a Black Hawk stabilator project that reduced the costs of repairing composite Black Hawk stabilators by utilizing AMRDEC's
Prototype Integration Facility for composite inspections, at a cost savings of more than $8 million.
Reynolds credits AMCOM's highly motivated engineering workforce and the teams of employees who work with them for gaining the DoD win.

"It was truly a team effort that involved not only AMCOM's engineers but people from from the Program Executive Offices for Aviation, and Missiles and Space, and the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center," he said.

"And, it's not just the engineers involved in these efforts. Besides those 200 engineers, our teams also include logisticians, finance employees and administrators. It takes everyone to get an improvement implemented. It might take one person to serve as the driving force, but it takes a group of people to make change."

Value engineering is an all-year endeavor for AMCOM's engineering workforce, with VE training and brainstorming continually ongoing. Each VE project begins with the need to improve performance and save money, Reynolds said.

"I am amazed every year with the ideas that these teams come up with to solve an issue related to obsolescence, efficiencies or costs," he said.

When an issue is identified, VE teams will form to brainstorm ideas to resolve the issue, Reynolds said. The teams research, study and do analysis to determine viable ideas, how they will be implemented and how they impact operations.

"Once they come to a consensus, they work to get their ideas implemented to save money and to gain tremendous benefits for our warfighters," Reynolds said. "It really does have a noble purpose."

AMCOM and its VE teams have been successful at achieving DoD recognition in the team, project, organization and special categories for several years. Teamwork is essential to finding solutions that have a positive impact on the sustainment and maintenance of aviation and missile systems.

"If we didn't have a collaborative culture here, we'd be dead in the water," Reynolds said. "But that's the way AMCOM is. Engineers are co-located with program managers, there are lots of team meetings, and employees are focused on being inclusive.

"These teams collaborate on issues where there is an opportunity to save money, time and/or effort and to improve capability. If they pinpoint a place where they can save costs in sustaining an asset or an opportunity to expand the capability of an asset, then that's a prime area for a value engineering study."

In addition to saving money, the VE projects taken on at AMCOM in 2016 mitigated obsolescence, improved quality, expanded the industrial base, reduced weight, minimized cycle times, developed new repairs, enhanced performance, updated technology, reduced inventories, decreased administrative burden, optimized power consumption and increased readiness.

"It never ceases to amaze me how engineers and project managers come up with ideas to address issues with obsolescence, reliability, quality, the supply chain or other issues that cost resources," Reynolds said.

"Issues might start with money, but they are also about making a difference. When you are making improvements that are invisible to Soldiers or you resolve an issue that Soldiers didn't even know was there, when you have had a positive impact -- those are very motivational drivers for engineers."