Green Belt Project Increases Red Alert Efficiency
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

CRANE, Ind. -- A Crane Army Ammunition Activity employee recently completed a Green Belt Lean Six Sigma project designed to increase the efficiency of the Red Alert / All Clear notification process throughout the Activity.

The goal of the project, completed by CAAA Safety Supervisor Walt Shearin, was to allow for critical Red Alert/All Clear notifications in a timely manner so that employees can shut down explosive operations and restart them with minimal loss of production and without endangering lives.

According to Shearin, the Red Alert notification is a warning advisory to evacuate personnel from an explosive environment during severe weather. The All Clear notification is issued to personnel when the severe weather is no longer a danger. In both cases, speed of notification is vital to saving lives and preventing damage.

"The goals of the project were to determine the root causes and identify corrective actions needed to improve the Red Alert/All Clear notification process to five minutes or less," Shearin explained. Shearin worked with a small team to find the problems and improve the system.

He added, "The other goal of the team was to eliminate notification failures. The old phone tree process was not capable of meeting these goals."

After analyzing and prioritizing root causes, Shearin said the team determined that a pager system would have the most impact on improving the current Red Alert/All Clear notification process. He explained, "CAAA utilizes a lightning detection system called Thorguard. Thorguard tracks atmospheric conditions and issues a Red Alert or All Clear to the Ammunition Transportation and Tracking Control Center when severe weather is or is not detected. ATTACC sends a message through the pager system to notify personnel of severe weather or all clear."

Shearin said the he considers the project a major success for CAAA, adding that the new notification process could also be used to alert personnel of other emergency situations such as tornados, earthquakes, and chemical spills.

"The process notification cycle time decreased from 18.5 minutes to 1.06 minutes. Notification failures were also eliminated," he said. "Profits of $4.5K will be realized in fiscal year 2012 and $20K every year after fiscal year 2012. The most important achievement is the Type 3 intangible benefit of saving lives by evacuating personnel out of the critical explosive areas in a much more efficient manner."

Established October 1977, CAAA maintains ordnance professionals and infrastructure in order to receive, store, ship, produce, renovate and demilitarize conventional ammunition, missiles and related components. The Army activity is a subordinate of the Joint Munitions Command and is located on Naval Support Activity Crane.

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