Electronic Systems Center gets 'Smart'

  • Published
  • By Chuck Paone
  • Electronic Systems Center Public Affairs

In a sweeping effort to improve its processes, the Air Force launched "Smart Operations 21."

This initiative combines key aspects of several industry efficiency tools. Most notable among them are Lean and Six Sigma, which have been used extensively to improve customer value while reducing waste, especially in manufacturing processes.

Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of the Air Force Materiel Command, noted in his Jan. 27 commander's log that this doesn't mean the Air Force, or AFMC, has been doing things wrong. It simply means "we cannot rest on past success," he wrote.

Smart Ops 21 is a continuous process improvement initiative, designed to help find ways to make things better, even if they're already “good.” This requires "a passion for continuous improvement -- a spirit and mindset that we can always get better," General Carlson wrote.

Air Force leaders hope that this mindset will be contagious -- that everyone will continue looking to eliminate steps that add little or no value to a process or product. They might also look at combining process steps to save time. Those critical process examinations are at the heart of Lean.

Six Sigma looks at segments of a process to determine what a customer truly needs. That enables deliverers to determine where they should spend more time or money to achieve greater precision and perfection; conversely, it allows them to determine where, from a customer's perspective, the extra time and money aren't warranted.

"Smart Ops 21 is all about continuous process improvement," said Maj. Gen. Arthur Rooney, vice commander of Electronic Systems Center. "There are many weapons in the Smart Ops 21 arsenal, including brainstorming, problem-solving, benchmarking, Lean and Six Sigma, to name just a few. We must look for opportunities to use these weapons each and every day.”

Lt. Gen. Charles L. Johnson II, the ESC commander, wants to implement this initiative immediately. On his behalf, General Rooney has already asked members of the staff to begin thinking about processes that could be streamlined.

(Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News Service)