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Six Sigma Laws - The Law of Velocity

Lean Six Sigma works to increase speed while at the same time reducing waste, and this is accomplished by combining two very effective means - six sigma and lean manufacturing.

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.

The overall goal of lean manufacturing, on the other hand, is to eliminate waste. The first step to eliminating waste, according to lean manufacturing, is to identify what causes the waste. As a general rule, waste is categorized in the following ways:
- Overproduction - this refers to producing more than is required, resulting in wasted products and labor
- Excess Transportation - transportation that costs the customer money but doesn't add any value to the end product
- Excess Inventory - more inventory than is required to complete the project
- Excess Processing - refers to using more of the labor force than necessary
- Waiting - idle time, either via machines or laborers
- Correction - wasted time fixing a problem because it wasn't done correctly the first time
- Motion - wasting time to run errands like pick up parts, etc.

Combine six sigma and lean manufacturing and you get Lean Six Sigma, which combines six sigma with lean manufacturing in order 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 Law of Flexibility is the second law of lean six sigma. It states that the speed of a process is dependant upon the workers' ability to switch back and forth among tasks. This is important because 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 while remaining up to speed. 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 Law of Velocity
Also known as Little's Law, the Law of Velocity is an equation for relating Lead Time, Work in Process (WIP) and the Average Completion Rate (ACR) for a particular process. The Law of Velocity's equation is:

Lead Time = WIP (units) / ACR (units per time period)

According to the law of velocity, by reducing WIP while maintaining the same ACR, the lead time is reduced as well. According to Little's Law, increasing the ACR while maintaining the same WIP will also reduce Lead Time.

The Law of Velocity is a useful tool for determining an average time frame of when projects can be expected to be completed. For example, let's say a certain plant can fill 5 orders per day (this would be the ACR), and there are 25 orders (WIP) to be filled. So according to the Law of Velocity, WIP (25) / 5 (ACR) = 5 quotes per day.

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