YELLOWBELT CLASS AIMS FOR EFFICIENCY
By MC3 Jacob Milner
Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) attended Yellow Belt Six Sigma training courses at Naval Station Everett April 3.
The free classes are targeted to improving efficiency and effectiveness of programs, shops and Sailors on board.
“Yellow belt is our initial training to introduce the methodology and techniques needed or required of a team member who is going to be a part of a RIE or rapid improvement event,” said Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class John Doll, lead petty officer for Nimitz Air Speed, Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) office. “This way, when we have an event that we plan to kick off, we can pull from a pool of yellow belt qualified people that we know have the necessary knowledge to conduct the planning, information gathering and data collection to brainstorm for appropriate solutions and improvements.”
The yellow belt program and its students have proven successful on Nimitz before. Their most recent event involved the creation and continuous improvement of the new “I,” or indoctrination division. The division has proven much more successful helping Sailors check on board than the previous methods not overseen by the yellow belt system.
“We started up the ‘I’ division and presented it to the executive officer and he endorsed it,” said Doll. “They implemented the division right away. The call for the improvement came after we took a sample of 230 new check-in records and only 30 of those records had completed check-in sheets.”
The system of improving a process or program is unique to each situation, but the goal of efficiency is always the same.
“The indoc. instructors had a problem and came to us,” said Doll. “They came up with a problem statement that concluded that it was taking an extraordinary amount of time to check people into the command. It was a pretty broad statement that they then narrowed down to the numbers. They then gathered their data and came up with a solution which was to consolidate the check-in and indoctrination into one division. As with all of our programs, we shot for the moon, but if we make it into the sky above the clouds, we’re doing good.”
The improved program is producing better results than the original program and is continuously being scrutinized for inefficiencies.
“Now people are actually completing their check-in cards,” said Doll. “New Sailors are no longer introduced to Nimitz as this big ship that they’ll get lost on. They’re funneled through the system and go to indoc., which has improved also. They started looking in to who lectured at the indoc. classes and who was on the check-in sheet and removed redundancies so that we were able to shorten the classes.”
Yellow Belt Six Sigma training was founded by the Motorola Corporation in 1985, and was made popular by the General Electric corporation after its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jack Welch Jr. made it a central focus of GE’s business strategy in 1995. The training and practice was soon picked up by the Navy and put into use among its Sailors.
“Back in 1995 Boeing came in and introduced it to us while I was at AIMD (Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department) Oceana and we ran it on our BRU-32 bomb rack assembly build-up line,” said Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Roger Hayden, leading chief petty officer for the Air Speed, CPI office. “The bomb racks were due for inspection and we would have a lot of them come back for re-work. What they did, was build an assembly line and committed a full break down with new parts for the whole bomb rack. There was no re-work needed for those bomb racks after it started. I’m just glad the Navy adopted this program. Back in ’95 when you walked into a work center there were parts out on the floor, cables were just left out and it just wasn’t a good working environment. Now it forces people to follow these guidelines and make a more efficient work center.”
The pedigree of the program and its continued success in both civilian and military sectors ensures it will continue to improve the day-to-day operations for Nimitz and its Sailors.
“We hope Sailors will come away from this with a way to be more efficient and effective in their work centers, and they will have the knowledge of how to cut the waste out of their daily routine and work,” said Hayden. “With the Navy downsizing, this program is needed. Sailors have to be more effective and efficient with what they have to ensure job security. You have to make it easier on yourself and you’re people to get the job done.”
The program is not exclusive to improving the efficiency of entire work centers, but also helps to improve the daily work habits of individual Sailors.
“Hopefully they go into their work centers and ask why they have a bunch of extra junk on their desk, and if someone asks for a job to be done, that they in turn ask what exactly it is that they need, so they can get the job done.”