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Comparing lean manufacturing with six sigma


Lean manufacturing and six sigma are both quality control systems that you can use to help improve the quality of your manufacturing. These two systems have quite a bit in common, but they also have quite a few differences as well. In order to figure out which system is going to work best for your manufacturing plant you will need to understand how they are alike and how they are different. This is important because each system has their own pros and cons, and it can be the differences in the systems that makes one better than the other.

Six sigma is a quality control system that is designed to focus on your company's businesses processes. When focusing on the businesses processes six sigma is going to see what kind of improvements can be made to each of the processes so that the quality of the product can be improved. By providing a narrow focus six sigma will spot even the smallest things that can be changed to improve the quality of your products and help reduce your overall costs. Lean manufacturing is a quality control system that focuses on reducing your company's overall costs by getting rid of any activities that are unnecessary to the manufacturing process; if they do not add value the processes are not needed.

Both six sigma and lean manufacturing are designed to keep an eye on the customer satisfaction; they both have your customers' best interests at heart. Something else that six sigma and lean manufacturing have in common is both of them require you to implement the system from the top down. You will need to start with your upper management so that your transition can go smoothly; if the upper management is not leading by example, chances are your employees will not notice it.

The most important concept that both six sigma and lean manufacturing have in common is eliminating waste from your manufacturing plant. Even though both methods want to get rid of any waste, the approaches that they use to achieve this goal are quite different. For example, six sigma focuses on improving your businesses processes to reduce waste while lean manufacturing focuses on reducing costs and the increases in turnover by removing any unnecessary activities.

One of the biggest differences between six sigma and lean manufacturing is what they are modeled after. Six sigma uses the SMAIC model, while lean manufacturing uses five principles that are specific to lean manufacturing. Regardless of the methods that they are based on both systems are looking for ways to improve things at your manufacturing plant, they just use different methods of getting there.

Another big difference between the two is the types of groups that they use. Both six sigma and lean manufacturing rely on teams to get the desired outcomes, but how the teams are put together and trained varies. With six sigma it is supported by a Black Belt with a cross functional team, meaning the team can focus on more than just one area of in the manufacturing plant. With lean manufacturing, there is just one small operational team that is used to deal with the issues that can come up on a daily basis. The small operational team in lean manufacturing is not cross-trained, so they cannot focus on anything but what they are trained to deal with.

Another big difference between the two systems is the tools that they use to achieve their desired results. Six sigma uses process mapping to find out about the various processes, along with process mapping six sigma also uses flowcharts to map out each process to see where the improvements can be made. With lean manufacturing, the main tool that it uses is value flow, which is a graph that shows how the value of the product or process is being passed along to the customers.

No matter how different these two systems are, both of them are good systems. What you need to do is decide which system works best for your manufacturing plant.

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