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Accenture leveraged its Lean Six Sigma experience and skills to help this military unit speed up the process of customizing Humvees for combat.
Process improvement reduced the process from 120 days to 30, putting the facility on the path to achieving high performance.
The client is a military base that supplies a number of vehicles, including the high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV, or “Humvee”). Crews customize vehicles prior to deployment in defense operations.
Humvees have many military purposes, including carrying troops, as weapons platforms and as ambulances. When troops require special radios, weapons mounts, armor and other items such as “Frag Kit 5” doors for extra protection, they submit requests to “up-armor” and customize the vehicle.
The end-to-end process can be complex and time-consuming. Some of the activities include inspection, repair, installation, storage and shipping. The process from start to finish took the base on average 120 days—too slow to meet military demands. Process bottlenecks resulted in the accumulation of vehicles in staging lots. Military leaders set an ambitious goal of shipping out 37 up-armored vehicles a day rather than the average of 10. The previous maximum at the base was 28 per day.
To cut through the complexity, the base sought out the Lean Six Sigma capabilities of George Group. Accenture enhanced its longstanding operational and strategy expertise with the 2007 acquisition of George Group, a market leader in process, operational and business transformation, and innovation strategy. Using Lean Six Sigma management tools and methodologies could develop greater process discipline to speed delivery times, reduce costs and increase warfighter satisfaction. High performance is critical both on the battlefield and in peacekeeping capacities.
The Lean Six Sigma project began with a tour of the base, one-on-one interviews and bringing together a cross-functional team that included military commanders, contractors and soldiers tasked with up-armoring vehicles.
Meeting daily, team members detailed the existing processes and mapped out every stage, quantifying the time from start to finish. The resulting process map—a 50-foot-wide illustration of operational steps and work flows—revealed shortcomings in need of correction.
Team leaders relied on the Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC) methodology to identify ways to achieve leaner processes. As an example, the project team discovered excess transportation and time spent waiting for vehicles. A typical Humvee was being moved 17 times for installation of all enabling equipment at multiple locations.
In the second week, the team implemented trial solutions to reduce or eliminate inefficient tasks and to synchronize steps, thereby compressing the end-to-end cycle.
Changing these and other practices, and by using a consolidated tracking system, the base was able to process 45 vehicles on the first day and 59 the following day. Based on these results, team members knew they had succeeded in driving substantial waste out of the process.
Learn more about Accenture’s consulting abilities in Lean Six Sigma.
Working with US Command, George Group, now a part of Accenture, brought to bear its specialized expertise in process improvement techniques including Lean Six Sigma.
The team reduced the time to complete the process from 120 days to 30 days—thereby reducing the time frame by a remarkable 75 percent. The team eliminated 11 of 17 transportation steps and consolidated six spreadsheets into a single unified tracking system. An additional extraordinary achievement was accelerating throughput of up-armored vehicles, rising from 10 per day to 40 or more—an important victory.
These results are especially remarkable given they were achieved without diminishing levels of quality, or increasing the number of workers or even labor hours. What’s more, the project was accomplished in three weeks.
Lean Six Sigma is a proven lens helping organizations focus intently on operational excellence and striving for high performance.
Contact us to find out how Accenture can help your organization leverage Lean Six Sigma to achieve high performance.
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