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Transforming Manufacturing with Lean Six Sigma Methodology: A Comprehensive Guide
Six Sigma can be defined as a set of techniques and tools that are used for process improvement. Do you ever get a feeling that you may be able to become a successful entrepreneur? Or maybe you deep down think that you might be able to be an owner of a small business starting it and then convert it into a growing one.
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What is Lean Manufacturing?
Let’s start by knowing the meaning of Lean Manufacturing. So, lean manufacturing can be defined as a step-by-step process that concentrates on minimizing waste that is present within the manufacturing systems in an organization while at the same time, maximizing productivity.
It is often known as “Lean Production” or “Lean” and it is used by almost every organization to transform and be a better version of itself, especially in today’s competitive era. This methodology reduces the waste of a manufacturing process without sacrificing its productivity. In lean manufacturing, the customer defines what is of value in terms of the word they are willing to pay for the product or service.
This particular idea was first championed by Toyota Production System and back then, it was called “Lean” in the 1990s. This helped to coincide with the growth of Toyota from just a small company to one of the world’s most prosperous dealers of motor vehicles.
What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma can be defined as a set of techniques and tools that are used for process improvement. The strategies of six sigma seek to boost the output’s quality of a process by recognizing and eliminating the causes of defects. These strategies also help to minimize the impact of variability in the process of manufacturing and businesses.
It altogether uses a particular set of quality management methods that are mainly empirical, statistical methods, and it also creates a special infrastructure for people in the organization who specialize in these methods. Each six sigma project follows a specific sequence of steps and has special value targets that are carried out within an organization.
It reduces process cycle time, secondly, it reduces pollution and costs, increases customer satisfaction, and also increases profits. It aims to improve the processes in an organization to increase the repeatability and the accuracy of process results. Thus, these tools help an organization to measure what they do and then improve what they have done or what they want to do.
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What is Lean Six Sigma?
Lean Six Sigma can be defined as a method that relies on the collaborative team effort to boost performance by systematically removing waste and reducing the variation in an organization. Lean Six Sigma is a combination of lean manufacturing and six sigma so that the eight kinds of waste, defects, waiting, transportation, overproduction, non utilized talent, motion, inventory, and extra processing.
It does not only reduces the defects and waste in a process, but it also provides a framework for the overall organization’s cultural change. If you introduce lean six sigma to an organization, it will enable you to change the mindset of employees and managers to the one that focuses on continuous growth and improvement through achieving process optimization.
This change in the culture and mindset of an organization helps to maximize efficiency and increase profitability. If you want to successfully implement Lean Six Sigma in an organization, then you should use a combination of tools from both lean manufacturing and six sigma.
What is Lean Transformation?
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Lean Transformation can be defined as the process where changes are introduced in an organization for maximizing the flow of value which is produced for the customer. The term also describes the operational, strategic, and tactical improvements that an organization undergoes so that more value for customers can be created.
All these improvements depicts a collective and fundamental shift in the business that are away from those traditional business practices towards a more value driven and streamlined approach.
What are the Five Principles of Lean?
Although Lean was born out of the manufacturing processes, in recent times it has transformed the world of proficiency and work of management. It helps to encourage continuous improvement in an organization and it is based on the fundamental idea of respect for people.
The five major principles of lean were defined by the brothers Womack and Jones in their book, “The Machine that Changed the World”. In the next section, you will be able to have a look at the detailed overview of each five principles-
1. Define Value
To understand the first principle of defining customer value, it is crucial to know what value means. Thus, value is something that the customer is actually willing to pay for. It is crucial to reveal the actual or latent requirements of the customer. It may happen that either customer don’t know what they want or they are not able to articulate it.
It is especially common when it comes to some of the noble products or technologies. There are many other techniques such as surveys, web analytics, interview, and demographic information through which you will be able to discover and decipher what the customer wants.
If you use these qualitative and quantitative techniques in your organization, you can know what customers want, what price they can afford, or how they want the product or service to be delivered.
2. Map the Value Stream
The second principle of lean is to identify and map the value stream. In this particular step, the goal of the organization is to use the value of the customer as a reference point and recognize all the activities that allot to these specific values. Thus, such activities that do not add value to the end customer are considered waste.
This waste can be classified into two categories, first, non-value-added but necessary, second, nonvalue and unnecessary. The latter should be eliminated as it is pure waste whereas the former should be lessened as much as possible. If you reduce or eliminate the unnecessary steps or processes, you will be able to ensure that customers are exactly getting what they want.
At the same time, you will also be able to reduce the cost of producing the product or service.
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3. Create Flow
After you have successfully removed the waste from the value stream, this particular action and ensures that the flow of the steps which are remaining should run smoothly without any delay or any sort of interruptions. Some of the strategies for ensuring this includes reconfiguring the production steps, breaking down the steps, creation of cross-functional departments, leveling of the workload, as well as training the employees of the organization to be multi-skilled and adaptive to the dynamic environment.
4. Establish Pull
Inventory is considered as one of the biggest wastage that occurs in any production system. The pull-based system aims to limit the work in progress (WIP) and inventory items, while also ensuring that the requisite materials and information are accessible for a steady flow of work. Also, it allows for Just-in-time delivery and manufacturing where products are produced at the time when they are needed and in just the quantities needed.
The pull-based system is often generated from the needs of end customers. If you follow the value stream and work backward all through the production system, then you will be able to ensure that the products that are being produced will be able to satisfy the needs of the customers.
5. Pursue Perfection
Generally, the occurrence of wastage in a process is prevented through the achievement of the above mentioned four principles. However, the fifth principle of pursuing perfection is most essential among them all. Pursuing perfection makes lean thinking and the continuous improvement of processes a part of the culture of an organization. Every employee of the organization should strive towards perfection while also delivering products that satisfy the needs of the end customers. The organization should become a learning one and always find small as well as big ways to get better every day.
Thus, hereby it can be concluded that all of the above-mentioned points have one common goal that is, minimizing or eliminating the waste in a process of an organization. “Lean Six Sigma” together combines “Lean Manufacturing” and “Six Sigma” and it relies on the combined team efforts to improve performance while eliminating the waste. The five principles of lean provide a proper framework for the creation of an effective and efficient environment in an organization. Also, the principles encourage to create a better flow in the processes of work and it also leads to the development of continuous improvement culture
1) What are the 5 principles of lean manufacturing?
- Define Value
- Map the Value Stream
- Create Flow
- Establish Pull
- Pursue Perfection
2) What is the focus of Six Sigma?
It reduces process cycle time, secondly, it reduces pollution and costs, increases customer satisfaction, and also increases profits. It aims to improve the processes in an organization to increase the repeatability and the accuracy of process results.
“4 Best Lean Principles Books”
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- A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance
- The 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence: A Lean Leader’s Guide to Achieving and Sustaining Excellence, Second Edition
- The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook: A Quick Reference Guide to 100 Tools for Improving Quality and Speed
- The Lean Turnaround: How Business Leaders Use Lean Principles to Create Value and Transform Their Company
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- Lean IT – Principles to Practice: Toyota Way to Create Value for the Customer & Wealth for IT Organization
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- The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development
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