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Six sigma versus lean manufacturing, which is right for you?

If you own or manage a manufacturing company, you might have heard the terms Six Sigma and lean manufacturing.They are closely related, as they are both strategies developed by big business companies in order to reduce or eliminate manufacturing excess.The principle difference between the two strategies is that Six Sigma is a strategy used to eliminate defects and lean manufacturing is a strategy used to eliminate waste.Looking carefully at each strategy might entail a class on each; however, the basics of each strategy are presented for you here.

Six sigma focuses on eliminating problems with the manufactured product.The strategy was developed by the Motorola Company and primarily focuses on the customer.Defect that are to be eliminated are defined as not delivering what the customer wants.To paraphrase an old saying, "if the customer ain't happy, ain't nobody happy".That's what Six Sigma is all about: customer satisfaction.Six Sigma has two directions.The first is the goal of improving the current process and product.The other direction is to create new processes that are better suited to elimination of defects.These two goals aren't mutually exclusive and often a company can make changes to the current processes while also implementing new one.If this is sounds like what you are interested in doing in your company, Six Sigma might be the strategy for you

Learn manufacturing focuses on eliminating waste in the manufacturing process.The strategy was developed by Toyota and its aim is not outward at the customer but inward at the company expenditures.The goal of lean manufacturing is price reduction, meaning that the final product is passed on at the consumer level.There are a number of different levels that lean manufacturing works on.The technique considers the process of manufacturing, such as the flow of materials, the flexibility of the process, and the automation of the process.It also considers raw materials, like the cost of materials, and it aims to reduce the use of excess raw materials, including human and natural resources.

It is not necessary to make a decision between six sigma and lean manufacturing.In fact, one of the principles of lean manufacturing is called "perfect first time".This principle suggests a goal of no defects, which is similar to the goals of Six Sigma.In this way, the Six Sigma technique might be thought of as a special case of lean manufacturing.

The principle does not work in the other direction.That is, lean manufacturing is not a special case of Six Sigma.If you are focused on Six Sigma, you might actually create more waste in the quest for a more perfect product. There has to be some balance between spending on product, process improvement, and reduction of cost.The design of Six Sigma does not have a goal of zero defects.The way the math works, as you approach the limits of perfection, there is a dis proportional amount of money spent at those limits.The goal of Six Sigma as developed by Motorola was to have less than 3.4 problems per million products.

Certainly, if you are in the manufacturing business, you will want to incorporate some of each of these strategies into your plant.By reducing waste, you will keep the costs down, for both yourself and for you customers.Similarly, by reducing defects you will please your customers by manufacturing a reliable and durable product.You will also reduce your own wastes in your repair department and your warrantee department.By eliminating defects, the repair and warrantee department might be eliminated as well, or at least consolidated into one department.

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