Investing in Lean and Six Sigma manufacturing practices is not just a cost effective way to run your operation, it is also an investment in the future. Lean and Continuous Improvement benefits the overall health of a company, empowering its employees, engaging customers, and providing practical solutions to design and manufacturing problems.
Lean and Six Sigma; The Human Factor
In addition to a focus on streamlined efficiency and a reduction in waste and redundancy, there is a very real human aspect to Lean and Six Sigma. Lean culture promotes collaboration with upper and lower management, as well as greater employee engagement with the processes and products they touch. In this article, Manufacturing Engineer Dillon Talmer discusses the ways in which Lean and Six Sigma has impacted and benefited KMC Systems.
“One of the best things I’ve seen come from both the Yellow and Green Belt Six Sigma training has been the time dedicated to getting all the teams together to collaborate on problems that often get kicked down the road. Our Lean journey has made us all ask the question, “why do we do things the way we do?” A commitment to fostering a Lean culture at any company begins with accepting the idea that doing something “because that’s the way it has always been done,” is not good enough. Talmer stated, “KMC is a successful design and development firm. We also competitively manufacture innovative medical diagnostic equipment as well.”
As part of projects stemming from our Yellow and Green Belt courses, production floors have been redesigned and laid out to increase productivity and manufacturing engineers have created a new test system that cuts submodule integration testing time in half! Leaning out manufacturing in this way has increased our agility and flexibility when meeting customer demands. As Talmer mentions, “Before, we were producing one system every three weeks, now we’ll be producing five systems every week.” Increasing customer capacity doesn’t occur from simply asking employees to work harder-the processes they use and rely on every day need to be better.
In particular, the Green Belt portion of Six Sigma primarily focuses on utilizing statistical data to explore trends and performance. However, not everyone needs to be a statistician to get involved. “Our manufacturing engineers and quality team are already very good at making decisions based on data,” Talmer notes. But by implementing some of the techniques and skills learned through Green Belt training, “…we are now able to have objective evidence to show our customers that we are making good decisions. Quantifiable evidence lets us evaluate what we are doing.” The results: improved profits, increased production, better customer relations, and greater employee morale. Continuous improvement is a commitment to a company, its customers and its people, as well as the future.