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Lean Six Sigma

If you are choosing to implement new production standards, you may want to consider Lean Six Sigma. Lean Six Sigma is a powerful, proven method of improving business efficiency and effectiveness.This is a business improvement methodology (focusing on DMAIC) that maximizes shareholder value, by achieving the fastest rate of improvement in customer satisfaction, cost, quality, process speed, and invested capital. Many experts feel that the fusion of Lean and Six Sigma improvement methods is required because:

  • Lean cannot bring a process under statistical control
  • Six Sigma alone cannot dramatically improve process speed or reduce invested capital
  • Both enable the reduction of the cost of production method.
The key principles of Lean Six Sigma are:
  • A focus on the customer.
  • A process to identify and understand how the work gets done (the value stream)
  • Steps to manage, improve and smooth the process flow.
  • Processes to remove Non-Value-Added steps and waste, and manage by fact and reduce variation.
  • Techniques to involve and equip the people in the process.
  • Ways to undertake improvement activity in a systematic way.
To undertake improvement activity in your business processes in a systematic way using Lean Six Sigma, you will need to employ the useful 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.
Using Lean Six Sigma can help you understand true value. Improving value for your customers means that you understand that they are willing to pay for:
  • The right products and services
  • At the right time
  • At the right price
  • At the right quality
In determining the course that you Lean Six Sigma should take it is important to understand that each step must meet the following three criteria:
  • The customer has to care about the step. In other words if the step does not improve customer satisfaction, then it is useless.
  • The step must either physically change the product or service, in some way, or be an essential prerequisite for another step.
  • The step must be implementedright the first time.
While you should try to remove those steps that don't meet this criteria, there are some exceptions. It should be recognized that you may want to retain some non-value-added steps, perhaps for regulatory or financial reasons.

One of the major benefits of using Lean Six Sigma is the inherent number of ways that you can reduce waste. Some of these include:

  • Transportation: Moving materials and output unnecessarily.

  • Inventory: Overproduction resulting in too much stock.

  • Motion: Inappropriate sitting of teams or equipment.

  • Waiting: Equipment failure, for example, which causes delays.

  • Over-Processing: Performing unnecessary processing steps.

  • Over-Production: Producing more stock or producing it earlier than needed.

  • Defects: Dealing with rework.

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