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  1. Cellular Manufacturing: Mitigating Risk and Uncertainty
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  5. Lean Six Sigma for Beginners

While Lean serves to eliminate waste, Six Sigma reduces process variability in striving for perfection. Embedding a rigourous methodology like lean six sigma into organizational culture is not a short journey, but it is a deep commitment not only to near-term results but also a long-term, continuous, even break-through results. The five phases are:. Define process goals in terms of key critical parameters i. Improve the process by systematically reducing variation and eliminating defects.

The subsequent sections brief the process involved in each phase.

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In the Define phase of the project, the focus is on defining the current state by making the Problem statement which specifies what the team wants to improve upon which illustrates the need for the project and potential benefit. The type of things that are determined in this phase include the Scope of the project , the Project Charter.

The problem statement and goal statement are the part of Project Charter. The following deliverables should be part of the project charter :. The metrics to be used are developed at this phase. The basic metrics are cycle time, cost, value, and labor. Some of the methods used for identifying the metrics are Pareto diagram, SIPOC, voice of the customer, affinity diagram, critical to quality tree. This approach helps us to identify characteristics that are key to the process which in term facilitates identifying appropriate metrics to be used to effect improvement.

SIPOC diagrams are very useful at the start of a project to provide information to the project team before work commences. It lists input variables and output characteristics. It is useful in defining a process and recognizing the input variables and responses or outputs. It helps us to understand what inputs are needed to achieve each specific output.

The Measure is the second step of the Six Sigma methodology. A base line measure is taken using actual data. This measure becomes the origin from which the team can guage improvement. It is within the Measure phase that a project begin to take shape and much of the hands-on activity is performed. The goal of Measure phase is to establish a clear understanding of the current state of the process you want to improve. For example, a medical practioner prescribes various tests like blood test, ECG test etc for a patient admitted in a hospital.

The test reports of various laboratorical tests reflect the current state of health of the patient. Similarly, a Six Sigma practioner, determines current state of health of the system under consideration in this phase. The deliverables in this phase are refined process map, and refined Project Charter. Some of the tools used in Measure phase are :. These metrics will establish the base line of the current state.

The outcome of applying these tools in the form of charts, graphs or plots helps the Six Sigma Practitioner to understand how the data is distributed. He or she is able to know what the data are doing. The distribution that is associated with data related to a process speaks volumes. The data distribution can be categorized into:. This tool can help focus problem solving and reduce subjective decision making.

Root cause is the number one team deliverable coming out of the analysis step. Causes can be validated usingnew or existing data and applicable statistical tools such as scatter plots, hypotheses testing, ANOVA, regression or Design of Experiments. Some of the tools used in root cause analysis are shown in Fig. In this step, the team would brainstorm to come up with counter measures and lasting process improvements that address the validated root causes.

The most preferred tool used in this phase is affinity diagram.

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We have measured our data and performed some analysis on the data to know where our process is, it is time to improve it. A pool of ideas, generated from a brainstorming session, needs to be analyzed, prioritized before they can be implemented. A smaller set of ideas are easy to sift through and evaluate without applying any formal technique. Affinity diagramming is an effective technique to handle a large number of ideas. It is typically used when. Large data set is to be traversed, like ideas generated from brainstorming and sieve for prioritization.

Group involvement and consensus. The process of affinity diagramming requires the team to categorize the ideas based on their subject knowledge thereby making it easy to sift and prioritize ideas. With DoE, you look at multiple levels of multiple factors simultaneously and make decisions as to what levels of the factor will optimize your output. A methodology to achieve a predictive knowledge of a complex, multi-variable process with the fewest trials possible. In this step, our process has been measured, our data analyzed, and our process improved.

The improvement we have made will be sustained. We need to build an appropriate level of control so that it does not enter into an undesirable state. The purpose of SPC is to provide the practitioner with real-time feedback which indicates whether a process is under control or not. Table 5. Pareto analysis, Control charts and Failure Mode Effect Analysis are explained in detail with examples. Pareto Analysis is a statistical technique in decision making that is used for the selection of a limited number of tasks that produce significant overall effect. This is also known as the vital few and the trivial many.

The Pareto Principle has many applications in quality control. It is the basis for the Pareto diagram, one of the key tools used in total quality control and Six Sigma. Seven steps to identifying the important causes using Pareto Analysis :. Arrange the rows in the decreasing order of importance of the causes, i. Then drop the line at the point of intersection with the curve on x-axis. This point on the x-axis separates the important causes on the left and less important causes on the right.

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A control chart is a statistical tool used to distinguish between variation in a process resulting from common causes and variation resulting from special causes. It presents a graphic display of process stability or instability over time as shown in Fig. Every process has variation. Some variation may be the result of causes which are not normally present in the process.

This could be special cause variation. Some variation is simply the result of numerous, ever-present differences in the process. This is common cause variation. Control Charts differentiate between these two types of variation. One goal of using a Control Chart is to achieve and maintain process stability. Process stability is defined as a state in which a process has displayed a certain degree of consistency in the past and is expected to continue to do so in the future. This consistency is characterized by a stream of data falling within control limits based on plus or minus 3 standard deviations 3 sigma of the centerline.

A stable process is one that is consistent over time with respect to the center and the spread of the data. Control Charts help you monitor the behavior of your process to determine whether it is stable. Like Run Charts, they display data in the time sequence in which they occurred. However, Control Charts are more efficient that Run Charts in assessing and achieving process stability. Your team will benefit from using a Control Chart when you want to monitor process variation over time. Failure Mode and Effects Analysis FMEA is a model used to prioritize potential defects based on their severity, expected frequency, and likelihood of detection.

An FMEA can be performed on a design or a process, and is used to prompt actions to improve design or process robustness.

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The FMEA highlights weaknesses in the current design or process in terms of the customer, and is an excellent vehicle to prioritize and organize continuous improvement efforts on areas which offer the greatest return. The next step is to assign a value on a scale for the severity, probability of occurrence, and probability of detection for each of the potential failure modes. After assigning a value, the three numbers for each failure mode are multiplied together to yield a Risk Priority Number RPN. The RPN becomes a priority value to rank the failure modes, with the highest number demanding the most urgent improvement activity.

Error-proofing, or poka-yoke actions are often an effective response to high RPN's.

How Lean Manufacturing Can Improve Your Bottom Line | News

Following is an example of a simplified FMEA for a seat belt installation process at an automobile assembly plant. As you can see, three potential failure modes have been identified. Failure mode number two has an RPN of , and is therefore the highest priority for process improvement. FMEA's are often completed as part of a new product launch process. RPN minimum targets may be established to ensure a given level of process capability before shipping product to customers.

In that event, it is wise to establish guidelines for assessing the values for Severity, Occurrence, and Detection to make the RPN as objective as possible. We present two case studies on Six Sigma implementation by two leading companies in this section. These studies reinforce Lean and Six Sigma Concepts as well as demonstrate the the tools used by them for implementing the same. The importance of achieving operational excellence by way of reducing defects and variations in processes as well as eliminations of non value adding steps in processes can be inferred from these case studies.

The organisation, which has employees, was set up in Singapore in It manufactures high quality avionics and navigation equipment and systems. Six Sigma Plus is Honeywell's overall strategy to accelerate improvement in all processes, products and services, and to reduce the cost of poor quality by eliminating waste and reducing defects and variations.

Six Sigma is already understood worldwide as a measure of excellence. The strategy requires that the organisation approach every improvement project with the same logical method of DMAIC:. Process mapping which helps to identify the order of events in producing a product or service and compares the "ideal" work flow to what actually happens. Failure mode and effect analysis which helps to identify likely process failures and minimises their frequency.

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  • Measurement system evaluation which helps in the assessment of measurement instruments to enable the better separation of important process variations from measurement "noise". Statistical tests which assist in the separation of significant effects of variable from random variation. Control plans which allow for the monitoring and controlling of processes to maintain the gains that have been made. Quality function deployment which is a tool for defining what is important to customers; it enables better anticipation and understanding of customer needs.

    Activity based management to look at product and process costs in a comprehensive and realistic way by examining the activities that create the costs in the first place and hence allowing for better subsequent management. Enterprise resource planning which uses special computer software to integrate, accelerate and sustain seamless process improvements throughout an organisation.

    Lean enterprise with skills to enhance the understanding of actions essential to achieving customer satisfaction. These skills simplify and improve work flow, help eliminate unnecessary tasks and reduce waste throughout a process.

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    • In the past, generic and low-end competencies such as the manufacture of printed circuit boards were outsourced. With Six Sigma Plus, core competencies were redefined and control plans established. Presently, Aerospace Electronics System, Singapore focuses on core competencies that are unique to itself, such as final assembly and test and final alignment.

      This helped to stabilise the workforce for the organisation, which once experienced high turnover for its front-end and low-skill jobs. Waste has also been reduced from key business processes. For example, inspection, which is considered as non-value added, has been eliminated. Instead, Reliance on Operators' Inspection ROI is practised and this has helped to increase the value added per employee.

      In addition, audits by FAA involve only observations and not all processes need to be audited. This is achieved by ensuring that the necessary quality procedures are built into the process. Six Sigma Plus in Honeywell has led to the following results:. This is another case study which highlights the experiences of Ms Xerox Corporation in implementing Six Sigma in higher education.

      The case study starts with discussion on the importance of Lean Principles and then elaborately discuss Six Sigma implementation strategies. Sources of waste commonly plaguing most business processes include:. Implementing a Lean Flow requires having the right data and knowing how to use it.

      There are a number of different approaches taken by organizations, but fundamentally, Lean Flow is achieved by:. Calculating the costs associated with removing non-value-added steps and comparing those costs versus expected benefits. It depends on whom you ask. But no matter how it is deployed, there is an overall framework that drives Six Sigma toward improving performance.

      Common Six Sigma traits include:. A strong emphasis on value. Six Sigma projects focus on high return areas where the greatest benefits can be gained. Internal cultural change, beginning with support from administrators and champions. Lean Six Sigma is the application of lean techniques to increase speed and reduce waste, while employing Six Sigma processes to improve quality and focus on the Voice of the Customer. Lean Six Sigma means doing things right the first time, only doing the things that generate value, and doing it all quickly and efficiently.

      This is the phase where the current state, problem statement, and desired future state are determined and documented via the Project Charter. Xerox asks questions like: What problem are we trying to solve? What are the expected results if we solve the problem? How will we know if the problem is solved? How will success be measured? In most cases where imaging and repository services are involved, the problem relates to document management and access.

      Schools look to improve the ways documents are created, stored, accessed, and shared so they may accelerate and enhance work processes, share information more conveniently, and collaborate more effectively. As the project progresses and more information is collected in future phases, the problem statement developed in the Define phase is refined. The Measure phase is where Xerox gathers quantitative and qualitative data to get a clear view of the current state. This serves as a baseline to evaluate potential solutions and typically involves interviews with process owners, mapping of key business processes, and gathering data relating to current performance time, volume, frequency, impact, etc.

      In the Analyze phase, Xerox studies the information gathered in the Measure phase, pinpoints bottlenecks, and identifies improvement opportunities where non-value-add tasks can be removed. A business case is conducted, which takes into account not only hard costs but also intangible benefits that can be gained, such as user productivity and satisfaction, to determine if the improvement is cost-effective and worthwhile.

      Finally, the Analyze phase is when technological recommendations are provided. The Improve phase is when recommended solutions are implemented. A project plan is developed and put into action, beginning with a pilot program and culminating in full-scale, enterprise-wide deployment. Where appropriate, new technology is implemented, workflows are streamlined, paper-based processes are eliminated, and consulting services are initiated. Key factors of success during this phase are acceptance by end users and enterprise-wide change without any degradation of current productivity levels. This involves monitoring—and in many cases, publicizing—the key process metrics to promote continuous improvement and to guard against regression.

      In many cases, Xerox will revisit the implementation after months to review key metrics and evaluate if the initial progress has been sustained. A Six Sigma practioner need not be an educated individual. One interesting case study quoted for Six Sigma application is dabbawalas of Mumbai, India. Around dabbawalas in Mumbai transport around , lunch boxes every day. The reliability of their services meet Six Sigma standard as per study by Forbes Magazine in the year It has been found that they make less than one mistake in every 6 million deliveries.

      The tiffin boxes are correctly delivered to their respective destinations as the dabbawalls use an unique identifying coding scheme inscribed on the top of each tiffin box. Lean is a business transformation methodology which was derived from the Toyota Production System TPS which focusses on increasing customer value by reducing the cycle time of product or service delivery through the elimination of all forms of waste and unevenness in the workflow.

      Lean and Six Sigma are initiatives that were born from the pursuit of operational excellence within manufacturing companies.

      Lean Six Sigma for Beginners

      When combined, the result is a methodology that serves to improve processes, eliminate product or process defects and to reduce cycle times and accelerate processes. Some of the important Six Sigma and Lean tools were discussed with examples which will be of help to a Six Sigma practitioner.

      Three case studies were presented which shares experiences on how Six Sigma implementation had helped them to improve their bottom line by removing variations in the processes and eliminating defects and reducing cycle time. We have presented two case studies on Six Sigma implementation by Ms.

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      In those situations, the productivity of the company as a whole may be hindered by unnecessary delays incurred in waiting on the communication between different departments. Some companies go through major transformations that completely change their mode of business after implementing lean, but in the end they benefit from that quite a lot.

      Make no mistake, lean can be challenging to implement in some companies, especially those that have been on the market for a longer time and have operated on non-lean practices until now. But the final reward from this effort can make it more than worthwhile. And then, lean can also help you put those extra profits to good work by investing the funds in the right areas of your business.

      In the end, you can find your company running more smoothly than ever before, and with less need for supervision of its various processes as well, and all it takes is making that first step towards a lean transformation. We also mentioned above that people like to contribute to the field a lot, and you should definitely join in on that if you feel like you have something to add to the discussion.

      Lean is still evolving at a rapid pace, and there is a lot of room for new ideas to be brought to the table.