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CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — Camp Red Cloud Garrison has saved $2 million by cutting costs, allowing money to be pumped back into work and recreational facilities for soldiers and civilian workers in Area I, the outgoing garrison commander says.

Lt. Col Brian Vines, the CRC Garrison commander who leaves soon for a new posting at the U.S. Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C., attributed the savings to a cost-cutting management program called Six Sigma.

He said the program, which involves all garrison supervisors, looks at efficiencies from the customers’ perspective.

CRC Garrison, which includes 10 Area I bases and more than 1,200 buildings, aimed to save $150,000 when it implemented the program two years ago, Vines said.

“We ended up saving $2 million, and a lot of that has been in the last eight months,” he said.

Six Sigma was developed by telecommunications equipment manufacturer Motorola and refers to a target the company had for reducing the rate of defects in its products, Vines said. Companies all over the world, including South Korean firms such as Samsung and LG, have picked it up, he said.

Six Sigma describes a measure of quality control higher than “normal,” one in which customer expectations define “defects.” In manufacturing, it refers to a methodology meant to reduce defects to 3.4 per million or less.

At Camp Red Cloud, Six Sigma led to revamped maintenance schedules at garrison motor pools, Vines said.

“We were following a policy letter from the 1970s that showed what services we would perform on vehicles. It was taking two days to service a vehicle.

“We changed that to following manufacturers’ guidelines, which require less frequent servicing because of improvements in technology. Now we only lose the vehicles for half a day and we are saving in terms of man hours and materials for replacing fluids that didn’t need to be replaced as often as we were doing it,” Vines said.

Six Sigma also is saving money is building maintenance, he said.

“A lot of our doors are different sizes. Each has a different lock. We found out that if we bought the doors in bulk we were saving $400,000 and they could all be opened with the same key,” he said.

Maintenance staff make the doors fit by modifying door frames as they install them, he said.

Now the garrison is rewarding staff financially for coming up with money-saving ideas, he said. The money saved goes toward quality-of-life improvements in Area I.

“A lot of that money has gone back to our employees. We spent $80,000 on safety equipment and we have improved work facilities for employees,” Vines said.

A barbecue pavilion built next to the CRC softball field in spring was paid for with money saved using Six Sigma, he said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
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