Lean Six Sigma (LSS) is a data-driven business improvement methodology that can be applied to all parts of an organisation. It consists of a set of principles and tools to improve a process systematically, or an entire organisation, from its current state to a desired higher performing state. The idea is to provide the best quality product or service to the customer at the lowest price and shortest delivery time while maintaining a safe and engaging work environment and fulfilling legal and communal responsibilities.
LSS originated in the manufacturing sector. There are many examples of small and large manufacturers who have benefited from LSS in improving their processes and business performance. The results are quantitative and verifiable. LSS evolved over time, going as far back as Henry Ford’s production line of cars in the early 20th century, to the Toyota Production System in the 1950s and Motorola’s Six Sigma methodology to improve quality in the 1980s. LSS has a strong track record and is well proven in the industry.
Where LSS has been implemented and sustained properly, numerous benefits have been realised, as evident from published case studies covering various industries and countries. The top benefits are:
Lean Six Sigma focuses on the customer, and value is defined by the customer. In manufacturing and operations, the ultimate customer is the external end user, with internal customers being the receiver of the semi-finished product downstream of each operation.
The key principles of LSS are:
LSS is data-driven, focusing on eliminating waste, reducing process variation and providing the highest quality product for the best customer experience. It is a structured problem-solving methodology using visualising and analytical tools from statistics and other fields.
In manufacturing and operations, waste and value are identified using value stream mapping. Types of waste consist of defects, overproduction, waiting for a machine or person, non-utilised talent of personnel, transporting of items, inventory, the motion of people and extra processing. The idea is to increase flow using Lean tools and reduce defects or process variation using Six Sigma tools.
Below are some examples of how LSS is applied in manufacturing.
As LSS is a structured and systematic methodology, a team of highly trained and experienced staff members or consultants is required to implement, embed and sustain the improved changes, with the unwavering support of management. Depending on the size of the manufacturing business, the initial implementation could be forming an in-house core team of highly trained change agents or engaging an external consultant.
Imagine you now have an improved business with measurable and undeniable benefits after applying LSS successfully. What could your improved business go on to achieve?
For example, what if your manufacturing processes are operating consistently at 99.99% in specification products with a due date performance of greater than 95% on time in full delivery? What increase in market share could that open up for you? What kind of guarantees could you give your customers that your competitors are not able to do?
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