Marine Corps base adopts Lean Six Sigma program

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: lean manufacturing

Marine Corps Base Camp Butler has begun utilizing a Department of the Navy initiated plan to improve business practices and programs at Camp Foster in Okinawa, Japan.


Lean Six Sigma is a program which eliminates waste and ensures all process steps are necessary and eliminates rework by controlling process and quality.


"Lean Six Sigma provides a standardized, disciplined approach for the Marine Corps to analyze, evaluate, and implement good ideas," said David R. Clifton, director, Marine Corps Business Enterprise, Headquarters Marine Corps. "The program helps leaders and supervisors gain or improve the skills they need to help their workforce learn their job, document it, and continuously improve it."


Seventeen people with MCB Camp Butler who participated in the week-long training for certification were assigned to one of six administration projects.


The projects included reducing the amount of wait time for getting common access cards, reducing the amount of time for completing the check in and out of commands and making recycling more efficient, according to Barry Henderson, business manager, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler.


"With this program, it's not that anything is broken, but all of the processes can be improved," said Henderson.


One of the projects initiated was reducing the wait time in getting a new CAC card. The LSS team found the average wait time was one and a half to three hours, said Alishia Jones, management program analyst, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler. Previously, the CAC card office could not control walk in customers. By making appointments, they could control how many people came in and reduced the wait time to about five minutes.


"Lean Six Sigma helps to reduce the amount of time to complete the mission by reducing the variables that interfere with the project," said Marisa Rhode, a budget analyst with Marine Corps Base.


Other successful improvement projects around the Marine Corps include Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., receiving the Shingo Prize for its application of improvement methods to the AV-8B Aircraft Production Program and Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., receiving the Secretary of Defense's "Check It" award for improvement methods to reduce cycle time and cost to repair amphibious assault vehicles.


An important aspect of the LSS program is to provide organizational leaders and supervisors with the tools they need to teach their people how to do two things: do their jobs right and to improve their jobs, said Clifton. In 2009, the Marine Corps will be developing and implementing a plan to bring process improvement training into certain military occupational specialty schools.


The LSS participants are certified through belt levels similar to martial arts. The introductory level is referred to as white belt, the first level of certification is referred to as green belt, and expert certification is referred to as black belt.


The methodologies of the Lean Six Sigma program were first formulated by Bill Smith at Motorola in 1986.

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