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Never stop improving

U.S. Air Force photo of Continuous Improvement Program

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Wize, 18th Civil Engineer Squadron fuel and fire systems maintainer, briefs his team and commander about how the 18th CES can save money by working with the Defense Logistics Agency during a continuous process improvement course Nov. 15, 2017, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The CPI, often referred to as the Green Belt Course, is a program that instills knowledge, techniques and skills that help Airmen problem solve systems and processes in the workplace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Omari Bernard)

U.S. Air Force photo of Continuous Improvement Program

Continuous Process Improvement course students brief Col. Richard Tanner, 18th Wing vice commander, about their experiences and projects during a continuous process improvement course Nov. 15, 2017, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The CPI course program is empowering Airmen to address problems and efficiencies that they see around them and fix them. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Omari Bernard)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Team Kadena Airmen discussed ways to improve work center processes and reduce waste during a Continuous Process Improvement Course Nov. 6 through 17 here.

The CPI course, often referred to as the Green Belt Course, is a program that instills knowledge, techniques and skills that help Airmen problem solve systems and processes in the workplace.

“You can apply these techniques in every facet of your life,” said Senior Master Sgt. Andrea Cogar, 18th Force Support Squadron CPI installation process manager. “In a nutshell, CPI is about making the Air Force more efficient at the wing or unit level and getting more from your resources.”

Before attending the CPI course, students were asked to review processes in their units and identify tasks that could be performed more efficiently. The students then used the eight-step problem-solving model, along with other tools to find ways to enhance that particular inefficiency.

The 18th Force Support Squadron’s Manpower and Organization is testing a new process for CPI and Green Belt Certification for the Pacific Air Force. According to Cogar, the average CPI course across the Air Force lasts a week; however, at the end of the course, less than one percent of the Air Force was getting green belt certified after graduating the course.

“Historically we would have a Green Belt Certification class with 12 to 20 students,” Cogar said. “Now we teach a smaller class of six command vetted students that lasts two weeks to ensure that 100 percent of our students become green belt certified.”

Staff Sgt. Landon Elliott, 18th Equipment Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance craftsman, said he enjoyed the CPI course and is ready to apply process improvement to the processes in his unit.

“I noticed in my section that our local manufacturing process that was in place was tying our hands a lot and we weren’t able to get out a particular product that the aircraft maintenance units were requesting in a timely manner,” said Elliott. “In this process, I realized that whenever the AMUs would have a request, they would need to do extra coordinating getting approval authorities through a checklist before we could fabricate and release the product we were making for them.”

According to Elliot, the unit had to get a signature from a certain entity while they were open. If they weren’t open, potentially 12 hours of time would be lost while the unit waited for the request to be approved before release of the asset.

“I think this course did a good job in giving me a new perspective on how to identify and look at processes,” Elliott said. “If we can eliminate that gap, we can provide 24-hour coverage and increase our readiness.”

“A major focus area of the CPI class is finding ways to enhance processes, making them more efficient, something everyone can benefit from,” said Les Ross, Manpower and Organization chief. “This program is empowering Airmen to address problems and efficiencies that they see around them and fix them.”

According to Ross, CPI has been, and will continue to be, a priority for the United States Air Force’s leaders.

“Our Green Belt Course is one of the first steps a commander’s Airman can take to begin leveraging CPI’s benefits for the good of the unit and the installation as a whole,” said Ross.