By Kathy AndesonNovember 2, 2011
With proposed budget cuts across the Department of Defense (DoD) of more than $450 billion in spending over the next ten years, and additional spending cuts based on Congressional bipartisan committee recommendations, the Army is preparing to conduct business with less funding.
Tooele Army Depot (TEAD) has already positioned itself to be a leader within the Army Materiel Command (AMC) in the cost cutting arena through its ongoing Continuous Improvement Program.
Fiscal 2011 proved to be a banner year for TEAD with 16 Lean Six Sigma (LSS) and Value Engineering projects completed with validated savings or cost avoidance totaling approximately $4.1 million. This exceeds the Joint Munitions Command (JMC) goal of $2.4 million by $1.7 million.
TEAD's Black Belt candidate Chris Schurman had the honor of completing the project which had the most impact on the depot. His project analyzed ways to shorten the hiring process at TEAD. By implementing fixes such as improving internal communication prior to a Request for Personnel Action (RPA) submission, training new Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC) employees and reassigning tasks to balance workload based on weekly production meetings, the time to fill a vacancy was reduced by an average of 106 days. This allowed prompt hiring of direct labor personnel to the depot.
Additional Green Belt and Value Engineering projects that have impacted the depot's business processes and improved productivity are: Safety Specialist, Patti Principe, reduced the number of mandatory training courses by 12 percent; Environmental Protection Specialist, Dean Reynolds, reduced the cost to dispose of hydrolysate generated from the demilitarization of Cartridge Actuated Devices (CADs) and Propellant Actuated Devices (PADs) from $0.48 cents to $0.28 cents per pound. He also improved the depot's hazardous waste inspection process which reduced the number of noted violations by 83 percent; Accounting Technician, Robin Forbush, recycled over 52 tons of paper; Lead Production Controller, Ammunition Operations Directorate, Paul West, developed a process to recycle over 2,000 wooden pallets generated from demilitarization programs; Continuous Improvement Specialist, Robyn McCown, developed a Value Engineering project to construct a new Box and Crate Facility which greatly enhances Ammunition Operations by streamlining and consolidating dunnage preparation processes.
"It's unbelievable how quickly lean exploration has expanded in the past 10 years," says Col. Chris Mohan, depot commander. "Last year's dollar savings alone at TEAD is phenomenal to me, and we aren't done yet."
During fiscal 2012, an additional component was added to the process improvement success story; the development of meaningful and measurable metrics and scorecards. These were based on specific goals approved by the TEAD Strategic Planning Board and integrated into the TEAD Strategic Plan. In addition to dollar savings, management emphasizing increased employee involvement with Green Belts and Lean Teams, expanding project identification through Lean Assessments, increasing the rate of project completion and utilization of Visual Management Boards. The scorecards proved incredibly useful in connecting people to the processes they perform, communicate successes and letting organizations know if they are "winning or losing". The scorecards enhance overall project development by increasing employee participation. This could not have been accomplished without strong TEAD leadership commitment and empowering the workforce to make meaningful process improvements in their organizations.
Tooele's success in developing a depot wide culture of process improvement can be encapsulated into a pretty simple formula: Data=Knowledge=Excellence. "It's an old adage, if you cannot measure a process, you cannot improve it. By collecting data to increase our knowledge of our processes, we can use that knowledge to bring excellence to those processes," said Gary Hoy, Chief of Continuous Improvement Office at TEAD. "TEAD employees have embraced this philosophy and their commitment to meeting customers' demands faster, better and cheaper stands as an exemplary example of Tooele Army Depot's can-do attitude."
"The depot will continue to strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection," says Mohan.