Lean Six Sigma project earns cost avoidance

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Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 7:46 am

While completing requirements for Lean Six Sigma green belt certification at the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, John Braswell implemented process improvements for the missile design trade study process that promise the Army savings of approximately $2 million over the next seven years.

Over the course of six months, Braswell managed a program titled “Improved Systems Analysis Process for Early Missile Development” that looked at the amount of time required to turn customer requirements into functional requirements. This information is used to create an engineering trade space that can help narrow down the possible solution set that can meet the stated user needs.

“This process has been very effective but not always efficient. At times the process requires too much time to generate a complete trade space using the current tool set. My project was able to utilize a government off-the-shelf solution from the AMRDEC Collaborative Environment team called the Missile Design Tool. It’s a graphical user interface that links medium and low fidelity design tools, that are widely used in the lab, together using the Python scripting language,” Braswell said.

Braswell, an industrial engineer in AMRDEC’s System Simulation and Development Directorate, discovered that the Missile Design Tool could be used to reduce the time to generate data points by 70 percent, resulting in a cost avoidance of $1,961,314 over the next seven years. He also added a user guide and training to the process which will increase the ability to train new engineers on how to do this process.

The Army’s Lean Six Sigma deployment began in 2005 to create a culture of continuous process improvement. The purpose of this program is to help the Army provide speed and efficiency by eliminating waste, reduce variation and defects and identify where there are redundancies in effort and resources.

According to the Army’s G-1 website, "the result is a process that saves time and money and improves customer satisfaction."

Said Braswell, “I started learning about Lean Six Sigma and other quality programs during my undergraduate degree in industrial and systems engineering at Georgia Tech. I had the opportunity to apply what I had learned during my internships and senior design project.”

There are varying levels of LSS certification. Similar to martial arts, LSS uses the belt system to distinguish between different levels of knowledge. Braswell is only the fifth Army candidate to simultaneously complete training and achieve green belt certification.

“The thing I have most enjoyed about this process is being able to help the other green belt candidates with their projects. I hope to be able to continue mentoring others in Lean Six Sigma in the future,” Braswell said.

He has a bachelor’s in industrial and systems engineering from Georgia Tech, and a master’s in industrial engineering/engineering management from the University of Alabama-Huntsville. He is pursuing a doctorate in industrial engineering/engineering management at UAH.

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