At the Anniston US Army Depot in Alabama, successful Lean Six Sigma implementation resulted in processes that are more cost effective and less demanding in terms of man-hours. The depot’s bottom line is to continually process high-quality products on time and within constraints
of the budget so equipment can be returned to the war zone quickly at the lowest possible cost to
Due to the current state of war in the Middle East, the depot needs to support a higher demand in workload for receiving and returning equipment to warfighters. The depot’s workload increased from 4 million direct labor hours in 2004 to 6.3 million hours in 2006.
One of the most successful cases of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) implementation is the improvement of the Army Depot’s M1 Abrams tank assembly line. Prior to LSS implementation,
each employee assembled an entire module of the M1 from start to finish in typical vehicle maintenance
“bay style,” in which workers are assigned to and focused on the equipment they’re working on.
After analyzing, organizing and reviewing operations, the Anniston Army Depot determined that a one-piece flow operation could reduce assembly time by 2.2 man-hours for each module and staffing
requirements from five to four workers. Those successful efforts resulted in a reduction throughput time of 56%—from 4.5 days to two days.
After workers at the depot saw how valuable LSS implementation was to that particular process, other
workers began reviewing operations in their areas and analyzed ways to improve performance.
The M2 machine-gun assembly line eliminated waste and transformed work cells to a continuous, one-piece flow system, thus reducing assembly time of the weapon from 2.5 man hours to one and staffing
from 18 to 15. As a result, production increased from 50 to more than 100 machine guns per month.
The most significant finding was that prior to LSS implementation, mechanics spent significant time
chasing down parts. Now, with their improved workstations,
the mechanics are able to focus on doing their job and assembling or fixing equipment.
Other LSS stories published in the Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics journal documented
successes across different agencies in the Army. In 2006, the Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, TX,
saved $30 million on its High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle line using LSS, resulting in a higher
rate of production. The depot can now produce 32 mission-ready vehicles per day compared with three a week in 2004.
U.S. Army Recruiting Command also reduced the number of steps it takes to process new recruits by
66%. It also decreased the time it takes to get applicants through the process by 40%.