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Improvement processes

Improvement processes are important to manufacturing. They are generally defined as a set of actions that work to identify and then improve processes used within organizations. They can be also used to develop new processes.

Some of the most common improvement processes within manufacturing include:

Six sigma
Six sigma is a method used to provide business with the necessary tools to increase their overall performance and customer satisfaction. This is done by statistically analyzing various forms of data and information, then using it to anticipate the needs of their customers. The overall goal of Six Sigma is to increase a company's profits by identifying and then eliminating factors that contribute to waste and customer dissatisfaction. Some businesspeople choose to become certified in various levels of the six sigma process, which sets them apart from their peers and recognizes them as highly capable and knowledgeable in regards to Six Sigma. These levels are similar to that of martial arts and are green belt, black belt, and master black belt.

Six sigma has two main methods that are followed:

DMAIC is the method that is used to improve systems and processes that are already being used by the organization. The steps include:

  • Define

  • Measure

  • Analyze

  • Improve

  • Control

DMADV is the method that is used when creating new processes and includes:

  • Define

  • Measure

  • Analyze

  • Design

  • Verify

Lean six sigma
Lean six sigma is a combination of six sigma and lean manufacturing and works to increase overall speed and customer satisfaction. It does so by focusing more on improving process flow and speed than on improving quality by combining the laws of six sigma with that of lean manufacturing. The concept of lean Six Sigma utilizes five different "laws" in order to make the process successful. The overall goal of six sigma is to increase a company's profits by identifying and then eliminating factors that contribute to waste and customer dissatisfaction.

Lean six sigma has five "laws" that are used to come up with the most efficient way to reduce waste. The five laws are:

  1. The Law of the Market

  2. The Law of Flexibility

  3. The Law of Focus

  4. The Law of Velocity

  5. The Law of Complexity and Cost

The laws are designed to reduce waste while continuing to maintain productivity.

Just-in-time (JIT)
JIT, or Just in Time, is another type of improvement process used within manufacturing. The JIT improvement process centers around inventory. According to JIT, reducing inventory while in process and the costs associated with carrying them will result in a higher return on investment, better quality products, and more efficient processes. Signals are used that let manufacturing organizations know when to move on to making the next part, so inventory is not sitting around wasted-the idea being that processes are achieved "Just in time" so carrying and storing parts in no longer necessary.

JIT relies on fast communication to ensure that old stock is replenished with new stock at just the right time, reducing warehouse space and costs.

Improvement processes are crucial for manufacturing companies that are continually looking to improve the speed and efficiency of their processes, which is turn results in increased customer satisfaction. While there are many different types of improvement processes, the above are some of the most commonly used as well as the most successful in manufacturing.

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