A combined team from Aviation & Missile Command Environmental Division at Red Stone Arsenal and Aviation Center Logistic Command at Fort Rucker have implemented ground-breaking initiatives utilizing Lean Six Sigma methodologies for the handling of hazardous waste involved in the maintenance of the UH-72 Lakota aircraft at Fort Rucker. These initiatives have significantly improved to quality of life for those personnel at Fort Rucker and the surrounding communities. They have also enhanced the mission performance of the aircraft through consistent quality improvement through Lean Six Sigma methodologies.
The UH-72A Lakota is a light utility helicopter specifically designed to meet the requirements of US Army. The helicopters were acquired to replace the UH-1H Iroquois ‘Huey’ and the OH-58 A/C Kiowa helicopters. Based on the EC 145 multirole helicopter, the UH-72A serves the army principally for logistics and support missions within the US. It is also used by the Army National Guard for homeland security and disaster-response missions and medical evacuations.
Lean Six Sigma Success for Army Aviation
By making changes in the institutional chemical review processes, prepositioning of compliant hazardous materials and changes to the procurement procedures, the team is working to improve environmental quality at and around Fort Rucker. These processes have also enhanced the community’s environmental quality by reducing the helicopter’s mission environmental footprint while reducing the risk of additional costs to pilot training due to aircraft maintenance delays.
The team’s success was accomplished by effectively implementing Lean Six Sigma techniques to facilitate mission and promote compliant hazardous material conservation practices on the aircraft. The team focused on the hazardous materials’ lifecycle and promoted just-in-time acquisitions of environmentally sustainable products.
- Enhanced readiness by reducing the wait time for maintenance chemicals to reach Fort Rucker mechanics, which reduced the chemical approval review time from an average 19.5 days to 13.7 days, which equates to an avoidance cost reduction of $332,531 in lost pilot training time per consumable material. With 28 new consumable materials delivered in the past 12 months, the cost avoidance to pilot training is more than $9 million.
- Reduced the use of non-conforming consumable materials by 81 percent. By reducing the amount of non-conforming consumable materials and ensuring only compliant products are available for use, the ACLC UH-72 Team minimized risk to the community while also reducing waste cost of $4.30 per consumable material. Costs were reduced by more than $6 million in fiscal year 2017.
- Guaranteed compliance with Fort Rucker’s air permit. The team reviewed the most used consumable materials and recommended more than 50 chemical alternatives the comply with the installation’s air permit.
- Supported air contaminant and waste minimization requirements. The team promoted sustainable procedures for acquiring hazardous materials that support air contaminant and waste minimization.
- Clarified new contract requirements to ensure mission success.
The U.S. Army has clearly demonstrated its commitment to the practice of Lean Six Sigma methodologies to improve the quality and combat readiness of its forces.