Although Volkswagen AG shows no external signsof a Six Sigma program (annual reports, press releases), they did recently start the ForMotion initiative aimed at cutting costs and improving processes.

“In March 2004 we launched the ForMotion performance enhancement program across the Group. The program includes seven focus areas in which all Group activities and projects are subjected to rigorous examination. Each area is assigned a ForMotion target and a defined savings potential. The core concept underlying the targets is to exploit market opportunities more effectively, optimize processes and reduce product costs, overheads and one-time expenditures. In this way, the Volkswagen Group aims to tap into a potential of €3.1 billion in 2005. In order to meet this ambitious target, members of the Group’s Board of Management have personally assumed responsibility for these focus areas.”

2004 Annual Report

I’ve found no references that Six Sigma is a part of the ForMotion program, but there is evidence of Lean Six Sigma activity at the VW operations in Mexico. They recently began Six Sigma training through UC Irvine:

“It’s not just Southland companies that are seeking out the strategies taught on the Irvine campus. The university’s extension program scored a coup last year when Volkswagen’s operations in Mexico, the employer of 20,000 people, signed up for Lean Six Sigma training, an approach that emphasizes making all business processes as consistent as possible (“Remove Variations” is the mantra), and eliminating excessive, unnecessary steps in operations procedures.

“The instructor, Hank Rogers, who speaks fluent Spanish, traveled to Volkswagen’s manufacturing plant in Pueblo, Mexico, where he worked onsite, conducting regular sessions with dozens of employees, and studying the company’s production processes stamping, painting and assembling automotive parts.

“Volkswagen subsequently made a series of changes to its business operations and manufacturing processes. The company says those steps led to a savings of about $600,000 over a few months – and likely much more than that by now, Rogers notes. Volkswagen was so pleased with the results that it has already enlisted Rogers and his UCI cohorts to return to Pueblo for three more sessions.”

Lean and Mean Profit Machines, UCIrvine, July 21, 2005

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