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Improving business processes has led to cost saving and the elimination of waste throughout the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center.

To meet these goals and successes, AMRDEC makes consistent use of the Army Continuous Process Improvement through Lean Six Sigma and Value Engineering tools.

“The Lean Six Sigma and Value Engineering tools yield financial benefits through cost savings and cost avoidance ultimately resulting in reduced depot/arsenal rates and improved equipment readiness,” said Susan Cole, director of the Continuous Process Improvement Division at Army Materiel Command.

The MITRE Corps System 2014 Engineering Guide describes CPI as “the set of ongoing systems engineering and management activities used to select, tailor, implement and assess the processes used to achieve an organization’s business goals.” In layman’s terms it simply means to make an organization better.

The Lean Six Sigma Institute describes Lean as “improves service speed or lead time by eliminating the waste in any process,” and Six Sigma as “improves the quality of products and services by eliminating variability.” Working together, Lean and Six Sigma “improve the speed and quality of any process in any industry.”

Value Engineering is a systematic approach of analyzing and improving the value of products and services at the lowest life cycle cost.

AMRDEC has experienced CPI successes by mitigating obsolete items, reducing maintenance burden and ensuring parts are readily available for the warfighter. During fiscal 2014, AMRDEC contributed $25 million in fiscal savings and cost avoidances, 215 percent of their anticipated $13 million goal.

“In an era of budget downturn, we must capitalize on efficiencies of all of our operations,” AMRDEC Director James Lackey said. “Having CPI skill sets is important for AMRDEC to keep the lean focus.”

AMRDEC employees contributed a variety of cost efficient benefits including reliability improvements, technology insertion, reduced administrative burden and time deliveries.

Melissa Hildreth, AMRDEC general engineer, recently completed an LSS project on an AMRDEC process. “I chose a process that had been studied from an engineering perspective. Although everyone thought all the waste was out of this process, my team and I focused our efforts on one portion of this process,” she said. “Using the Lean Six Sigma tools, my team and I implemented process improvements resulting in a 98 percent time avoidance and a cost avoidance of over $7.5 million over a six year period.”

Hildreth, who passed the Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt exam in June, said Continuous Process Improvement methodologies offer proven tools to streamline processes, meet customers’ needs and expectations and allow organizations to save money.

“CPI tools make us valuable and viable to the customer,” Hildreth said. “The voice of the customer is what drives your projects. When you can help them become leaner, produce better products and services at a reduced cost, you become invaluable to the consumer, customer and ultimately the warfighter.”

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