By By Ely TrappNovember 9, 2009
The Lean Six Sigma team that saved Tooele Army Depot more than $60,000 and nearly 100 million gallons of water per year is the proud recipient of not one but two prestigious awards in the small group water conservation category: the 31st Annual Secretary of the Army Energy and Water Management Award and the 2009 Federal Energy and Water Management Award. Richard Anderson, Russell Smalling, Victor Hammond, Jon Hayden and Joshua Jones will travel to Washington D.C. for an award ceremony to be held Oct. 28, 2009, in honor of individuals that throughout the Department of Defense have made exemplary efforts in water and energy conservation.
"Using the Lean Six Sigma analytical process, these five members of Engineering and Facilities ganged up to solve serious problems in our (World War II) era water distribution system," said Chris Tillman, garrison manager. "They developed processes to pinpoint and resolve unexplained losses of water and water pressure and then proceeded to correct the problems. As a result we are saving over eight million gallons of water a month and experiencing flow and pressure levels that will now support future mission modernization. Their accomplishments are outstanding and very worthy of the recognition and awards they have received."
For a group of guys used to working behind the scenes, all the attention surrounding the awards is a bit humbling. "We were surprised (about the awards) because Jay Weyland nominated us without our knowledge," said Smalling and Anderson, both with the Engineering Branch of the Directorate of Base Operations. "We are very appreciative of Jay for doing this for us and are happy that it has brought great recognition to the depot."
In October of 2007, water production at the Depot increased unexpectedly by an additional five million gallons. "We couldn't figure out what had caused the increase and therefore suspected broken water lines" said Jay Weyland, TEAD energy manager. "Several methods were used to search for the waterline breaks but they were ineffective."
Detection methods included observation and isolation which involved looking for unusually green areas, wet ground or puddles and areas of melted snow; and closing off areas of the water system to see if usage changed. Active detection with the use of the LD-12 Professional Plus Leak Detector finally helped find the problem. The detection of the leaks was no easy task since Tooele Army Depot has 26 miles of main waterlines.
"The (LD-12) amplifies the sound that a water leak makes allowing the operator to locate the water leak precisely," Weyland said. "The team made a series of sound level measurements, and from those measurements they located and repaired several water leaks." There were 12 water leaks identified in total, with the last leak repaired in September 2008. More than 40 million gallons of water were saved in the first six months of fiscal 2009 when compared with the same time frame the previous year.
What started out as one Green Belt project, evolved into three which ultimately combined into what has become a great success story. Anderson was tasked with finding the water leaks and John Hayden was tasked with a water pressure Green Belt. All the findings from the water loss and the water pressure projects were combined into one document which became Russ Smalling's Water Master Plan Green Belt.
"In (the Master Plan) individual responsibilities are laid out and assigned to ensure we maintain the correct standard of water pressure, water usage, maintenance and upgrades," Smalling said. The Master Plan also boasts a newly updated water map depicting all 26 miles of waterlines on the depot along with other sectors of the water system including water hydrants.
"Conservation is part of our everyday lives, if you put it out in the work places as well people may pick up on it and want to join in," Smalling said. "Being around Jay Weyland has taught me a lot about energy conservation. Now I always find myself shutting the light switch off whether at home or at work. We'll blame Jay for that; it's a good thing to be blamed for."
Another contributor to the team's success was LSS mentor, Gary Hoy, whose extensive expertise enabled the team to effectively accomplish their mission.
As the recipients prepare to go to Washington D.C. for the presentation of their federal award, they share the same sentiment about what has turned into a whirlwind of recognition, "we are just trying to do what is best for the depot."