Canadian manufacturers have reached a critical point where continuous improvements aren’t just an asset; they’re necessary for survival. Failure to improve a business’ value-adding processes will almost always result in competitiveness issues; however, many organizations don’t have a system to measure and improve value-added processes. Without these activities, it’s impossible to understand where value is created or how it can be maximized.
Developing a system to identify and adapt inefficient processes is the only way businesses will remain competitive in the future. Fortunately, resources are available to help management teams implement a process improvement plan. Many of the tools and techniques used are grouped into a well-known term called Lean Six Sigma.
To help you understand this concept, we’ve created a white paper detailing the Lean Six Sigma process. It also includes case studies to show how Canadian companies are actively using it.
Manufacturing: Core Principles of Lean Six Sigma
Those new to the concept of lean manufacturing are often intimidated because it seems overly complex, but this doesn’t have to be the case. When broken-down into its core principles, it’s easy to understand what Lean Six Sigma is, and why it’s so useful.
- Lean Manufacturing: A mindset used to identify and eliminate types of waste.
- Six Sigma: A process used to identify and eliminate defective products.
When these concepts are applied together, continuous improvements can be made to reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction. Three common areas where Lean Six Sigma projects assist are:
- Waste: Most processes that drive costs unnecessarily can be categorized into some form of waste. Lean Six Sigma helps to identify waste more easily so that manufacturing cycle times are improved and costs are decreased.
- Errors: Processes that are completed improperly or inconsistently are often due to some type of error. Errors can happen for a variety of reasons; Lean Six Sigma provides a method for finding out how errors occur.
- Defects: Some errors lead towards a product or service that deviates from customer expectations. When this happens, businesses lose credibility and profitability because defects must be ‘re-worked’ until a certain quality has been achieved.
Use the DMAIC Framework for Lean Manufacturing Projects
Another common theme of Lean Six Sigma projects is the use of the DMAIC framework to better plan and execute projects. The DMAIC framework consists of:
- D – Define: Define the problem preventing success, a project plan, and goals of the activity.
- M – Measure: Define the project scope, performance specifications, and starting measurements.
- A – Analyze: Define performance objectives and compare to the measured results to understand processes where inefficiencies exist.
- I – Improve: Using methods most appropriate to the organization, implement changes and keep only those leading to repeatable improvements.
- C – Control: Establish standards and process controls to ensure quality is maintained.
Free Download: How to Control and Reduce Operating Costs
These are just a few of the Lean Six Sigma concepts included in Mentor Works’ How to Control and Reduce Operating Costs white paper.
Business leaders ready to make the next step with their continuous improvement projects may use this 27-page reference guide to empower their decisions and drive profitability into the future.