USAMMC-K embraces Lean Six Sigma, works toward increased efficiencies

By C.J. LovelaceApril 14, 2021

New Green Belts
A total of 20 Korean nationals working at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea recently completed training in the Lean Sigma Six program, each earning their “Green Belt” certifications. The program aims to reduce waste and increase efficiency, saving time and money for the U.S. military. (Photo Credit: Hye Chin Paek) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP CARROLL, South Korea -- Staff members at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Center-Korea are doing their part to increase administrative efficiency and eliminate waste by embracing the Army’s Lean Six Sigma program.

A total of 20 Korean nationals working at USAMMC-K recently completed training in Lean Six Sigma, or LSS, each earning their “Green Belt” certification under the program.

The Green Belt signifies a professional who is well versed in the core to advanced elements of the LSS methodology, which teach also problem-solving for improving processes, therefore saving time and money while boosting the nation’s military readiness.

“The best way to transform an organization is by inspiring change not only by behavior but through changing processes,” said Capt. Andres Gil, chief of materiel management and accountability officer for USAMMC-K.

First embraced by the Army in 2006, the LSS program combines two business approaches into one, aligning aspects of the “Lean” program and adding it to the “Six Sigma” platform.

Lean seeks to reduce or eliminate activities that do not add value to a process, emphasizing removal of waste. Meanwhile, Six Sigma is a data-driven problem-solving methodology where the focus is on processes and customer satisfaction using five stages -- Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control, or DMAIC.

In February, the staff at USAMMC-K, a direct reporting unit to Army Medical Logistics Command, spent about a week studying LSS reference books and video clips to learn more about the program and its objectives, before taking and passing the exam.

Every student successfully earned their Green Belt, the intermediate certification under the LSS program behind the more advanced “Black Belt” certifications.

One of the participants, Yong Hwa Son, an IT specialist for USAMMC-K’s Information Management Division, said the program helped develop skills that will improve the work environment through cost-effective practices, leading to enhanced productivity and improved business sustainability.

The LSS program provides “very powerful tools and standards to identify a potential project target and analyze it in scientific ways, which gives decision-makers very useful and critical information,” Son said.

The overall goal, Son added, is to produce systemic solutions that increase output, shorten processing times and minimize operational errors.

“This recent course that our Korean nationals were able to take in part will help the organization in fostering the development of a continuous improvement culture through worker interaction, communication and decision-making,” Gil said.

Gil said the course helped staff learn new concepts and processes that promote ideas that boost efficiency and effectiveness.

“The biggest gain is that the team has buy-in from the staff that is consistent in the organization as the Korean nationals will stay to see the changes,” he said.