U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Natick, MA 01760-5012
Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
Date: July 12, 2001
Value engineering saves money
Natick, Mass. --- Millions of government dollars will be saved or unspent as a result of the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command's (SBCCOM) first Value Engineering (VE) workshop held at the Natick site April 2-6.
Product Manager-Soldier Support, the U.S. Army Combat Arms Support Command (CASCOM), Natick Soldier Center (NSRDEC) and contractors reviewed PM-Soldier Support's Containerized Kitchen and Containerized Batch Laundry to validate their design, and identify potential VE savings and cost avoidances. SBCCOM held its first formal VE Workshop in June 2000 at SBCCOM's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Edgewood, Md.
Value Engineering is a formal, structured approach to reviewing an item's current design, its requirements or use to determine how total life-cycle costs can be minimized. VE Workshops are facilitated by a certified value specialist who guides project teams through a rigorous review and evaluation process.
The Natick workshop was facilitated by Roger Syverson, president of Professional Value Services, and by Nan Ramsey, U.S. Army Materiel Command's VE program manager, both of whom were impressed by the professionalism demonstrated by the two project teams. Members of the NSRDEC Supplemental Programs Team who arranged the workshop also participated in and helped facilitate the review.
The Containerized Batch Laundry, still in the design phase, presented a perfect opportunity to employ the VE methodology, which calls for challenging requirements that drive up costs but present little apparent benefit. With two CASCOM representatives on the team, it was possible to have serious discussions on the rationale for the requirements.
The Containerized Kitchen, which also had a CASCOM representative on the team, along with the trailer manufacturer and the integrating contractor, was further into its development cycle. This provided the benefit of having a more developed design from which to begin working and provided a clearer base line to assess potential cost saving changes.
As is critical to a successful VE review, each project team was composed of functional experts representing different disciplines and organizations involved in the project. Participation included human systems integration, engineering technicians, project engineers, user representatives and contractors.
The teams began the process by generating ideas through an intense brainstorming session aided by a physical walk-through of the items, which were located between the Research and Development buildings. These ideas were subsequently "tagged" with numbers based on their criticality to the function of the item and their ability to generate quick, low-risk savings or cost avoidances.
The selected top scoring ideas were explored further to determine potential savings from their implementation. Savings and cost avoidance for each of the selected concepts were quantified, "costed-out" and then transferred to a presentation for the SBCCOM deputy for acquisition and readiness, Brig. Gen. Philip Mattox, to close out the workshop.
However, with Value Engineering the work does not stop at the end of the workshop. The workshop provides a structured approach to analyze projects and determine the best ideas for avoiding costs and saving dollars. After the workshop, the easiest-to-execute ideas must be integrated into the project and the more complicated ideas must be explored further and implemented, if practical.
The total estimated savings and cost avoidance for the two systems is more than $5 million.
"I wish we had done this a year and a half ago when we were developing the item," said Chip Sealing, contractor project manager for the Containerized Kitchen (CK). "We should be doing VE workshops at every phase of the lifecycle."
Jim Fignar, CK design engineer, was equally enthusiastic. "This is great!" said Fignar. "It gives us a chance to explore new ideas and see if they're worth pursuing."
Because of the success of this workshop, SBCCOM intends to conduct further workshops at the major SBCCOM sites. The goal is to make VE studies a regular part of SBCCOM's development approach.
"The combat developer should be utilizing the VE methods on all of our systems across the Army because it provides clearer communications between the user and the materiel developer," said Maj. Rose Card, a CASCOM representative at the workshop.
"I wish we had done this eighteen months ago," Maj. Al Majewski, a CASCOM attendee, said. "If I have my way, we will use the Value Engineering process on more of our programs."
A five-day workshop is already scheduled at Edgewood later this year. In addition to the VE workshops, two VE training opportunities are being provided to the command.
Contractual Aspects of Value Engineering (CAVE) training was conducted in June 2001 at the Natick site and Practical Applications of Value Engineering (PAVE) training will also be given at a site and date to be determined.
To best economically apply the VE methodology, NSRDEC's Supplemental Programs Team is conducting one to two-day mini-VE workshops that can be used on shorter notice and on a shorter timeframe than the formal 30-40 hour contractor-facilitated workshops.
A number of these mini-workshops have been held and others are scheduled this fiscal year. SBCCOM project officers and systems managers are encouraged to contact the VE manager at DSN 256-4883 for more information or to schedule a review.
Value Engineering is a tracked metric that the command must report to AMC each quarter. AMC also sets an annual savings goal, currently set at 1 percent of the command's Total Obligation Authority, or $4.9 million for Fiscal Year 2001.
SBCCOM is on target to exceed the FY2001 goal and is using these workshops to position itself to meet or exceed its goals in FY2002 and beyond.
Value Engineering savings goals have become more difficult to meet since the Department of Defense has moved away from the use of detailed design specifications. All involved organizations no longer have the opportunity to make simple changes to detailed technical data packages and count the savings toward their goal.
Also, with performance specifications the design is typically under the contractor's control, therefore they no longer have to report every change they make to an item unless it affects form, fit or function. This makes these VE workshops critical to the command's ability to meet or exceed its goals.
Natick is part of the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM). For more information about SBCCOM or the Soldier Systems Center (Natick), please visit our website at http://www.sbccom.army.mil.