12 Important Lean Six Sigma Concepts & Tools

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Everyday new firms and organisations are being created but not all of them last, why does this happen? What strategies are these successful organisations following that some of the new firms fail to adapt and are either eaten up by the big organisations or are unable to survive in the market, let’s find out why.

ORIGIN

It is possible that the term Lean Six Sigma might seem alien to many of us but in reality the concept of Six Sigma came into existence in the 1970’s. It was adapted for the first time by Motorola Company when they noticed that their products had many defects. In no time the company started producing the best quality products. In the 1970 the Six Sigma approach was used only by the manufacturing industry and today the concept is being used everywhere starting from the Corporate sector to hospitality sector.

The Six Sigma approach works on reducing the defects in the products, services and also decreases the variations in the process in order to increase customer satisfaction. The original definition is defects per million output units, where each level of sigma allows a certain number of defects and the number of defects decreases per level of sigma. 

WHAT IS LEAN?

Lean is a systematic approach aiming at eliminating the activity that fail to add any value to the product, where value stands for the level of satisfaction that a customer receives from a product or service. 

LEAN SIX SIGMA

Lean six sigma is a collaborative team method that aims at improving the performance by removing waste. This methodology not only eliminates waste but it also helps in growing the mindset of the managers and employees, which result in increased efficiency and profitability of the organization.

   By today lean six sigma has been successfully applied to several sectors. It is the combination of two different concepts which are Lean and Six sigma, which has helped many countries to stay ahead in the market.

CONCEPTS 

The motive of Lean methodology is to reduce waste, the different types of waste have been classified as DOWNTIME which stands for:

Defects

Overproduction 

Waiting 

Non utilized talent

Transportation 

Inventory 

Motion

Extra processing 

 

  • Defects: A defect can be any product that is unfit for use and needs to be discarded or fixed by additional resources costing the company time and money
  • Overproduction: Supply of a product should always meet the demand, but when the product is made in excess or before it is needed then it is known as Overproduction
  • Waiting: Waiting includes the delay of material and equipment, faulty equipment which results in customer dissatisfaction 
  • Non-utilized talent: It refers to the waste of potential and skills, examples include- poorly trained employees, recruiting employees in positions that do not utilize their skills
  • Transportation: Transportation waste involves the unnecessary movement of products or information which doesn’t add any value and adds time to the process. This kind of waste can be removed by combining responsibilities and tasks, allocating workspaces to reduce unnecessary physical movements.
  • Inventory: Inventory waste refers to the value that is being held at cost. It is the excess in production that is not processed making the product obsolete for consumers as well as costing time and money to the organization.
  • Motion: Motion waste refers to the time taken by the employees or machinery which does not add any value to the product. It can be a result of poor workstation, shared tools, lack of standards.
  • Extra processing: Extra processing waste refers to the unnecessary extra work done to complete a task, which can include Data re-entry, unnecessary product customization, multiple signatures 

LEAN SIX SIGMA TOOLS

5 WHYS 

The 5 whys is an important tool of lean six sigma as it helps the organization in identifying and getting to the root of a problem. Whenever a problem keeps on reappearing, the organization uses this tool by asking ‘why’ five times. The definition might seem easy and ineffective but it works wonders when used with other six sigma tools.

KANBAN SYSTEM 

It is one of the most popular six sigma tools, Kanban system is a supply chain control system with the aim of constant reduction. This system controls the limits for the inventory holding for business. It follows the Just in time efficiency,where the supply meets the demand.

TAKT TIME

Takt time is an important tool to ensure smooth flow of goods and optimum utilization of resources. It ensures that the company is meeting the customers demand. It will be wrong to say that Takt time is the number of man-hours used for the production, rather it is the entire time taken in creating a product from the beginning of the production cycle to the end, in a continuous manner as well as fulfilling the demands of the consumers.  

STANDARDIZED WORK

As the name suggests, Standardized work tool is a simple concept which ensures the smooth functioning of the operations. It also aims at continuous improvement of strategies and techniques to reach the ideal takt time. 

HEIJUNKA 

Heijunka is also known as Leveling the work load. It is used to even out the work done by the employees. This tool helps in increasing the business as well as employee efficiency and customer satisfaction. 

POKA YOKE

Also known as ‘Mistake proofing’, this tool helps an organization in eliminating the errors. This tool promotes accountability and processes improvement. Poka yoke is a great way of controlling and eliminating the errors before they become a bigger issue.

5S

This is a five step methodology which focuses on maintaining the visual workplace improvement and efficiency. It aims at removing unnecessary items from the organisational space. It aims at creating an organized workplace, keeping it tidy, orderly and uncluttered.

 The following concepts are used in the 5S:

  • Sort: This step helps in sorting and removing the items that are not required
  • Set: After sorting, Set helps the company to arrange the workplace as per the requirement and goal
  • Sweep and shine: This step talks about regular cleaning and maintaining machinery and equipments
  • Standardize: It aims at keeping the environment clean by maintaining a standard and record keeping of previous steps
  • Sustain: This step talks about documenting of procedures so that they are easy to find and ensure the long term sustainability 

KAIZAN 

The goal of this tool is to ensure continuous improvement of products and services as well as increasing the profits and customer satisfaction. 

RACI MATRIX

It is the tabular representation of the responsibilities of individual team members. RACI is the acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. In RACI, Responsible are the ones who are supposed to complete the task. Accountable is the person assigning the task. Consulted are the people who are experts on the matter and Informed are the people who are notified after the completion of the task.

PRIORITIZATION MATRIX 

This tool uses Project Priority calculator which represents the project that needs the most importance and is likely to give the best returns on investment. 

FAILURE MODE AND EFFECT ANALYSIS (FMEA)

EMFA is a tool which helps in recognizing the failing areas as well as their impacts.

PROJECT CHARTER 

Project charter is a tool in the form of a document that helps to understand the purpose and scope of the project. Project charter provides all the basic information about the project such as project overview, its scope, team details and resources. It helps to keep the environment less chaotic.

Six SIgma can be a real game changer for any organization in terms of rectifying process errors and eliminating any bottlenecks. The best investment that any organization can make is train their employees in Six SIgma best practices and tools. The best part is that there are plenty of great options for Six Sigma certification online. This ensures that employees can upskill themselves without leaving their jobs or undermining other responsibilities.

Author Name – Shambhavi Singh 

Author Bio – Shambhavi Singh is a blogger with passion for cooking, she loves to expess herself in the form of food and words. She started her journey with Henry Harvin that’s when she started writing on a larger Platform.