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Lean Management and Six Sigma, Essay Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1251

Essay

Lean management and Six Sigma are often used to better the organizational efforts to increase productions, capability, efficiencies or effectiveness.  In this case the focus is on Supply Chain Management (SCM).  Both are similar in that they are structured frameworks to help solve issues and improve the performance of their respective organization.  Lean management is used to reduce waste and improve efficiency of a process while Six Sigma is utilized for the reduction in variances and improved performance.  For example with lean management the focus could be on processing times, improving safety, utilization of resources and process improvements.  These increases in efficiencies will not help prevent products from failing quality checks or missing other specifications on the requirements.  This is where Six Sigma would be used.  In essence, Six Sigma methodologies push the organization to make the product exactly the same without defects every single time.  It does not mean that the process is efficient but it does force defects from the operation.  Both could and should be used in a synergistic approach.  For example while working through the lean management tool set which uncovers inefficiencies, the root-cause could be caused by consistent rework or scrapping parts due to defects in which the Six Sigma methodology would come into play.  Lean management is a great place to reduce the waste in the processes before implementing a Six Sigma approach.

The goal of implementing a lean management methodology is to help eliminate the processes, actions or lack of actions that are causing waste throughout the process.  Lean management is a set of tools designed to help eliminate the multiple areas of waste and ultimately drive a manufacturing process that produces quality products to the consumer.  In order to implement a lean manufacturing methodology, it is imperative that the implementation team understands the process and purpose of what lean manufacturing entails.  The basis for the entire lean methodology is to limit or eliminate any action or functions from the manufacturing process that does not create value to the end customer.  Lean is a set of tools that can help provide the necessary means of reducing waste through the manufacturing process.  This set of tools focus on eliminating the different kinds of waste which are transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, over processing and defects.  Of all of these wastes some are more apparent and receive more attention than others.  Implementing the lean management methodology includes designing of the lean process, training, awareness, communication, lean leadership, tool box preparedness, continuous improvement, cultural awareness, philosophical buy-in and team management.

“Lean management implementation is continuous process that requires a change in the way the company conducts their business.”[1] The organization must identify a need within their processes or a need to reduce the waste to better utilize their limited resources.  While the focus here is on lean management methodologies a key to success is integrating lean management philosophy as a cultural attribute.  One of the major tasks of the team is to bring in leadership and ensure that the culture change is pushed from the top down to not only kick off the culture change but also create a sustainable environment for the lean culture.  Implementing lean management is often like opening a tool box and selecting the correct tool for the job.  Lean management is also in a continuous state of improvement so that it must also be understood that while there should be recognizable gains from each lean management activity to goal is to continuously improve and strive to draw down the wastes in the manufacturing process.  There are two basic methods to implement lean management projects[2].  The first method is a tools based approach and the second is a flow based approach.  Both implementations work through a repeatable process which results in an improved area that contains a repeatable and sustainable process improvement.

The tools based process works through a project management methodology while implementing various lean tools through the process.  In this method the initial phase is to bring leadership in and voice their intentions of bringing in the lean vision for the company.  Once that is established the project leader develops project as any other project would start up.  The first difference in the project start up requires the project manager to solicit for a group of volunteers to form the lean implementation team.  From this point the team will need to be trained on the lean tools, view other areas that have implemented lean and ultimately choose a project that could be used in the organization.  After the project is selected, the processes is evaluated, monitored and lean tools are utilized to make changes.  From these changes new standards are developed and adopted into the manufacturing process.  Once the process is standardized, the team can move to the next lean project following the same process.

The next method is the flow based approach.  The ultimate goal of this lean management program is to remove as many quality problems from the process as possible and increase the ability and rate of flow from the beginning to the end of the process.  Once the quality areas are recognized they can be improved with the lean tools.  The overall process of this system is to identify areas that are causing a slow down or stoppage and improve that flow.  This is done by monitoring the flow, identifying area for improvement, introducing standard work and locking down the improvements so that they are repeatable.  An issue with a project assigned drives change and the change leads to a culture transformation in the company.  While this could result in the desired expectations of leadership, climbing over the mountain of solving results of problems instead of root causes of the issues could raise flags for future lean projects.

The first step of the team is to help identify the problem[3].  Identifying the issues will allow for a focus on improving the efficiencies throughout the supply chain.  Each project eliminating waste from the process will improve the overall operations of the supply chain.  Every resource saved by eliminating waste can be put toward either continuous improvement projects or reinvested into the company for other growth opportunities.  These small and continuous improvements will lean out the production line and improve the overall product.  This methodology will reduce waste in the areas of transport, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, over processing and defects[4].  Each of these areas of waste would contribute to the positive impacts on operations, reduced costs of inventory, reduced cost of ownership, improved efficiencies in transportation, increased utilization of facilities and ultimately a more efficient and effective supply chain as a whole.

Bibliography

Hanover, B. Deliciously lean – a mouth-watering introduction to lean manufacturing for printing professionals and sandwich makers alike. SGIA Journal Fourth Quarter 2006. Available from: http://tpslean.com/pdfs/introtolean.pdf. 2006.

Holweg, Matthias. The genealogy of lean production. Journal of Operations Management 25 (2): 420–437. 2007.

Pettersen, J. Defining lean production: some conceptual and practical issues. The TQM Journal, 21(2). 2009.

Sager, T and Winkelman, S. Six sigma: positioning for competitive advantage. Available from: http://www.crowell.com/documents/DOCASSOCFKTYPE_ARTICLES_492.pdf. 2001.

Vernvi, B. Where are the real problems in manufacturing? Available from: http://americanmachinist.com/Classes/Article/ArticleDraw.aspx?HBC=iCopyright&NIL=False&CID=71108&OASKEY. 2007.

[1] Pettersen, J. Defining lean production: some conceptual and practical issues. The TQM Journal, 21(2). 2009.

[2] Hanover, B. Deliciously lean – a mouth-watering introduction to lean manufacturing for printing professionals and sandwich makers alike. SGIA Journal Fourth Quarter 2006. Available from: http://tpslean.com/pdfs/introtolean.pdf. 2006.

[3] Vernvi, B. Where are the real problems in manufacturing? Available from: http://americanmachinist.com/Classes/Article/ArticleDraw.aspx?HBC=iCopyright&NIL=False&CID=71108&OASKEY. 2007.

[4] Holweg, Matthias. The genealogy of lean production. Journal of Operations Management 25 (2): 420–437. 2007.

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