Industrial Engineer Engineering and Management Solutions at Work

April 2013    |    Volume: 45    |    Number: 4

The member magazine of the Institute of Industrial and Engineers

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Cleared for takeoff

Lean recommendations could streamline approvals required for flight testing

By J. Robert Wirthlin, Jeremy J. Homan, Carissa M. Parker and Joseph J. Pignatiello Jr.

Simple process improvement tools can uncover significant lean process improvements in complex military systems. This was the conclusion drawn by two students and their faculty advisors at the Air Force Institute of Technology. They were challenged by a U.S. Air Force research and development organization to help find solutions to repeated and lengthy delays in their flight test approval and return-to-flight processes. The organization already had concluded that the time and effort to obtain test approval and return to flight was too long and complicated. The customer wanted a thorough examination to determine whether this perception was correct and to receive recommendations for improvement.

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