ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The depot held its 1,000th Lean event Aug. 27-31.

The Production Preparation Process, or 3P, event focused on establishing the best flow of work for the Stryker double-v-hull exchange program.

Through the exchange program, parts that can be reused are taken from a flat-bottom Stryker vehicle, cleaned, repaired or rebuilt if needed, then placed in kits to be installed in double-v-hull Strykers by General Dynamics Land Systems, the vehicle's original equipment manufacturer.

A seven-member team ranging from supervisory personnel to an engineer, machinist and material handler discussed the various ways the building chosen for the exchange program could be arranged and what the most efficient, and effective, layout would be.

"The teams work hard to eliminate waste, reduce variation and build in quality," said Jeff Hines of the Directorate of Engineering and Quality, the team facilitator for the Lean event.

The depot has been involved with Lean events since November 2002 when the installation held its Value Stream Mapping of the reciprocating engine process.

Since that time, nearly every industrial process has been touched by Lean, with two processes -- the Paladin and Field Artillery Ammunition Supply Vehicle assembly line and the AGT 1500 turbine engine overhaul process -- being awarded Shingo prizes in 2007 recognizing their Lean efforts.

In 2008, another vehicle program, the M1 Abrams vehicle assembly project, was awarded a Lean Six Sigma award from the Department of the Army.

The Lean events have also moved into a number of administrative areas -- helping to save time and, often, paperwork.

Of course, the end result of each project, and each event, is to reduce waste and save time, therefore reducing costs for the depot and its customers.

"To date, ANAD has reported $216 million in improvements and that would not have been possible without each and every one of the 3,073 individual team members that have been involved in our events," said Barry Smith, chief of the Enterprise Excellence Division. "While this milestone is an important achievement, it is not the end of the journey. We must now forge ahead, continuing our journey to improve the way we do business."

With the double-v-hull exchange program, the Lean team is taking a process already designed to save money by reusing or refurbishing parts and making it more efficient and cost effective.

During the 3P, a team of subject matter experts assembled to lay out all areas touched by the process, identifying needed changes including personnel, tooling and machinery, according to Hines. The team then briefed results to management and, when changes were approved, the team implemented those changes.

"It's rare that management disapproves of recommendations from the team, since the group often knows best what they need and what works," said Hines.

As parts that have been removed from a flat-bottom Stryker are brought into the shop, they are inspected and inventoried. Parts that are not within specifications are cleaned and then sent out to other facilities where they will be rebuilt and, if it is warranted, upgraded.

Parts that meet requirements remain in the building, moving from station to station as they are cleaned, more thoroughly inspected then placed on a manifest and kitted for inclusion in a new double-v-hull Stryker.

"The end result is serviceable assets, or useable parts," said David Funderburg, chief of the depot's Stryker Division.

Hines said this Lean event is important not only in terms of how many events the installation has held over the years, but because of the change each event has initiated.

"Lean allows employees at every level to make a difference," said Hines.