Extend the reach of Six Sigma and Lean

June 20, 2012

Manufacturing companies are always on the lookout for methods to improve performance and reduce waste. Currently, two favored programs are Six Sigma and Lean. Companies are minimizing waste with Lean initiatives and minimizing operational process or quality variation through initiatives such as Six Sigma.

In a recent MESA study, 35% of the respondents said they had a significant effort in Lean with an additional 50% claiming some implementation. For Six Sigma programs, 15% claimed significant implementation and an additional 42% some implementation.

And while Six Sigma and Lean are excellent methods, they are often limited scope in scope and impact. The real challenge is how do companies take the capabilities and disciplines in Six Sigma and Lean and extend the reach of their contribution to plant-wide and corporate process improvement and business performance. For example, solving problems such as correlating incoming raw material properties with end of batch quality demands such a larger-scale process view.

That next level of performance management requires Six Sigma and Lean to be complemented by manufacturing-analytics solutions. That combination delivers comprehensive process oversight. By drawing upon multiple process and business databases, the analytics deliver role-specific decision support to everyone from the process engineer optimizing yield to the VP of Operations determining best practices among plants.

This approach - often called manufacturing intelligence (MI) - is characteristic of the strongest manufacturers. In the MESA study, the manufacturers that actively leverage MI realize 3x – 5x profit increase rates compared to industry laggards. Ted Bobkowski, the author of the study, detailed the results in his webinar, “Improve Corporate Performance with Manufacturing Intelligence”. 

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