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How to use Lean Six Sigma

cautiontape41824589.jpgMany manufacturers are now choosing to use a combination of production processes, in order to improve their overall efficiency. One of these combined processes is referred to as Lean Six Sigma. This has become an effective and proven method of improving business efficiency and effectiveness.This is a business improvement methodology that focuses on Six Sigma DMAIC and incorporates various principles of lean manufacturing management.The process attempts to maximize shareholder value, by achieving the fastest rate of improvement in various areas which include but are not limited to:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Cost
  • Quality
  • Process speed
  • Invested capital
Studies have shown that using Lean Six Sigma can help a manufacturer understand true value. When you are improving value, for your customers, it means that you understand that they are willing to pay for certain aspects of your product which include: purchasing the right products and services, at the right time, price and quality.

There are many experts that feel that the fusion of Lean and Six Sigma improvement methods is required for great efficiency, for a number of reasons. When using Lean principles alone, it cannot bring a process under statistical control. Conversely, when using Six Sigma, by itself it cannot dramatically improve process speed, or reduce invested capital. When both of these processes are used together they can then enable significant reductions in the cost of production method.

Manufacturers should take the time to determine what course Lean Six Sigma should take by carefully considering each of the following steps. It is only after careful consideration of each of these steps, that the process should be follow through on. These steps include:

  • The step has to improve customer satisfaction; if it doesn't then it is useless.

  • The step must either physically change the product, in some way, or be an essential prerequisite for another step.

  • The step must be correctly implemented right the first time.

There are certain key principles to Lean Six Sigma. The correct focus on these principles allows for the completion of production processes that are profitable, for the business, and are not a waste of time and resources. The major principle of Lean Six Sigma is a focus on the customer. When the focus is on the customer (the end user), then the goals of the production process, become much clearer. This enables the manufacturer to find a process to identify and understand how the work gets done. It also provides steps to manage improve and smooth the process flow. This in turn leads to processes to remove non-value-added steps and waste, and manage by fact and reduce variation. This will lead to techniques that involve and equip the people in the process and ways to undertake improvement activity in a systematic way.

To undertake the process of Lean Six Sigma you employ the framework of DMAIC. These include the following steps:

  • D=Define: Projects always start with a problem that needs solving. You will need to make sure everyone involved knows their role, why you're doing the project, and what you're trying to achieve with the project.

  • M=Measure: Keep in mind that the work you've done in the Define stage is based on what you think the problem is. During the Measure stage you will need to clarify things, by seeing how the work gets done and how well.

  • A=Analyze: Now you know what's happening, it's time to find out why, but you shouldn't jump to any conclusions. You will want to manage by fact to check out the possible causes and get to the root cause.

  • I=Improve: This is the stage is where you need to find a way to address the root cause. The team will come up with some ideas, select the best one and test it out.

  • C=Control: You need to ensure you achieve and hold the gain that you're looking for.It is crucial to put a control plan in place to ensure that the process is carried out consistently.

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