April 02, 2018

In our previous post we went over the basics of Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing. In this post we will discuss how these principles can assist with your supply chain. Businesses had been using each principle separately to enhance their business, but another way of increasing your supply chain flow is to combine the two principles to create Lean Six Sigma. By doing this a company is now focusing on the entire business rather than primarily the customer (Six Sigma) or primarily the manufacturing (lean manufacturing).  Combining the two principles eliminates waste and reduces variance in the supply chain, thus assisting in increasing efficiency.

Lean Six Sigma can be beneficial to your supply chain by:

Improving employee morale – As part of Six Sigma employees are given the ability to make key supply chain decisions without having to consult a supervisor. Obtaining this level of responsibility can make employees feel trusted which can get them to perform at a higher level.

Optimizing order fulfillment – Noticing issues in a system like inefficient execution (Six Sigma) then reducing waste and improving the order (lean manufacturing).

Decreasing errors – Part of the lean principle is Poka Yoke, this is a mistake proofing process that forces an employee to complete a task properly. For example, if a machine is built to monitor how much liquid goes into a bottle and an employee removes the bottle from the line before the proper amount has been filled an alarm may sound to let the employee know it has not been properly filled.

Reducing waste – One of the main concepts of the Lean principle is to eliminate waste, which can be determined by activities that don’t add value to the customer or product. As mentioned in our previous post, targeting and eliminating non-value-added processing like over production, transportation, and/or unsatisfactory production facility layouts.

Increased Customer Satisfaction – Considering the lean principle is about eliminating waste and the Six Sigma principle is about reducing non-value-added steps with a focus towards the customer. These principles combined will provide a more efficient process therefore decreasing customer complaints and raising customer satisfaction levels.

Improve Cost – Lean manufacturing has a focus on reducing defects which will bring down operational cost.  While Six Sigma has a focus on streamlining processes and reducing cost which in turn will be financially beneficial for the business

When looking to combine Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing it may seem like a daunting task and expensive. However, the overall payoff for your company would greatly benefit as your supply chain would run smoother therefore saving money.

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