Six Sigma stories have graced the pages of this specialty chemical company’s annual reports since 1999. Six Sigma at Grace has been a corporate-wide initiative from the start and has spread outside of the manufacturing processes to other functions including administration, sales, service, and R&D. Lean manufacturing and Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) methodologies are part of the productivity initiative as well.

“Our productivity results for 2004 were equally positive. Through a combination of strategic sourcing and Six Sigma initiatives, Grace generated nearly $80 million in productivity improvements. We continue to conduct different levels of Six Sigma training across the organization and have added additional black belt support. During 2004, we conducted Kaizen or Lean events at several Grace sites and have more scheduled in 2005. As our Six Sigma capabilities mature, advanced tools included in Six Sigma Lean will drive our productivity improvement.”

2004 Annual Report

“We have been successful in our productivity initiatives, generating over $31 million in 2003 and over $100 million since 1999 of cost savings from Six Sigma alone.”

2003 Annual Report

“Our productivity results were important contributors to our performance again last year. The gains we made through Six Sigma and materials management initiatives generated savings sufficient to offset basic inflation. Six Sigma, through its improved methodology, was employed in some way in almost all of this contribution. Grace continues to make progress on our journey to become a Six Sigma-based culture. Currently, we have more than 60 active black belts and 400 green belts driving improvement projects around the world. We have made tremendous progress in Six Sigma since our first training class in the summer of 1999.

“We will continue to drive Six Sigma across the Company with additional manufacturing projects, but also are putting these tools to work in core functions beyond manufacturing. We are already realizing benefits in Sales, Technical Service and Research and Development that are allowing us to accelerate commercialization of new products and better serve our customers. Six Sigma is also giving us a fresh look at administrative processes and helping uncover opportunities to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. Through these efforts, we are seeing reduction in time devoted to non-value-added transactional work and improvement in the timeliness and quality of information overall.”

2002 Annual Report

“Our productivity initiative was key to offsetting the economic slowdown and the steep price increases we experienced in energy and raw materials. The impact of increased prices for raw materials and energy was almost $29 million above 2000. The foundation of continuous productivity at Grace is Six Sigma. In 2001, we trained 55 new black belts, 285 green belts and 456 yellow belts. They completed 150 revenue enhancement and cost reduction projects, evenly distributed across the businesses. The contribution to our earnings from Six Sigma was $50 million in 2001, almost double the previous year and a significant improvement over our forecast. For 2002, we will have more tools in the hands of more people, and we expect another significant increase in the contribution to Grace’s bottom line from Six Sigma.”

2001 Annual Report

“Grace launched its Six Sigma program in October 1999 and during 2000 saw $26 million in EBIT contribution, plus $7 million in non-income impact over 120 projects. Forty-one employees were trained as Black Belts and 80 as Green Belts, spreading the Six Sigma philosophy of continuous improvement throughout the organization.”

2000 Annual Report


“Grace Davison’s Porvoo, Finland facility manufactures catalysts for the high-growth polypropylene market. Porvoo, although considered optimized, was far short of the capacity needed to meet our customers’ demands. The Six Sigma process allowed a cross-regional team to increase Porvoo’s existing capacity to nearly triple and enable us to meet our customers’ requirements in 2004 and 2005.”

2004 Annual Report

“Line 4 at the Chicago Performance Chemicals plant, which produces Ice and Water Shield®, had become a bottleneck due to its ineffective design. Two Six Sigma projects increased the production of the line, first to 80% of entitlement and later, to 90%. Then, the GPC Six Sigma team pushed the line even further by modifying it to produce Bituthene 3000 during its down time. Today, Line 4 runs at 90+% efficiency, producing both products and delivering a cost savings of nearly $1.25 million annually.”

2000Annual Report

Articles and Links

W. R. Grace: Plant Uses Six Sigma Methodology and Traditional Heat Balance Analysis to Identify Energy Conservation Opportunities at Curtis Bay Works, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Dec 2003

Six Sigma for Managers, ASQ Baltimore, Mar 2004 (PowerPoint Presentation)

Six Sigma at W.R.Grace, ASQ Baltimore, Sep 2003

Advanced Refining Technologies to Expand Catalyst Production Capacity, Business Wire, September 12, 2005

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