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Case Studies

Case Study: Sime Darby Adds $250M with Lean Six Sigma

Who Is Sime Darby Plantation? Sime Darby Plantation is the world’s largest sustainable palm oil producer and has four areas of focus: Upstream: 248 estates and 72 mills where fresh fruit is processed into crude palm oil Downstream: Production of oils and fats, oleochemicals, biodiesel, other palm oil derivatives and renewables in 16 countries Research…

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Case Study: Use Category Resolution to Assess Gage R&R Results

Although the gage reproducibility and repeatability (GR&R) study is a crucial tool in Six Sigma’s DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) toolset, it is not the most glamorous; mistakes in its execution are common among new Six Sigma practitioners. The standard for assessing if a gage is acceptable can vary significantly from organization to organization,…

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Case Study: Optimizing Processes in Louisville, Kentucky

Problem-solving teams are equipped to help leaders break through vexing operational challenges that impair customer satisfaction. Often, there are more challenges than resources, and staying focused on the most critical problems is imperative. This case study describes how a team redirected its efforts toward strategic needs.  Original Team Purpose In Louisville, Kentucky, Greg Fischer, businessman…

Case Study: Optimizing Fuel Economy

Late last year, I decided to upgrade my vehicle. For seven years I’d driven a Honda Civic. It was nothing special, just a reliable vehicle with good gas mileage – the perfect commuter car. But now I’ve got two kids, own a home and picked up woodworking as a hobby; fitting car seats and dimensional…

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Case Study: Improving Value for Clients and Employees

On her drive into work, Melissa Garcia was listening to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Sharp Minor and sipping on the mocha java blend she’d brewed in her kitchen just minutes before. It was a brisk fall Thursday morning, and Melissa was headed into the office where she was three weeks into her…

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Case Study: Using Six Sigma in a Non-Six Sigma Culture

Anyone who has worked in manufacturing has probably experienced some level of finger-pointing when shipments fall short of expectations. Though there could be multiple reasons for a missed customer delivery, somehow it is always the other department’s fault. In extreme circumstances, several months of missing targets without effectively defining the root causes and addressing them…

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Project Examples from an LSS Deployment for Cultural Transformation

My company benchmarked against other manufacturing businesses before starting its cultural transformation change. They formed a team and visited companies including Toyota, GM, Milliken, Caterpillar, John Deere, Chrysler, Du Pont and Johnson Controls. After talking to each company about their cultures and continuous improvement processes, my company started to put together a roadmap for transformation….

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Case Study: Increase Revenue by Decreasing Prices

A division of a diversified organization develops and manufactures samples of new drugs for clinical trials. This work entails different typical manufacturing problems for the following reasons: Quantity requirements can vary from a few grams to several tons from order to order. The effort of research and development (R&D) is central; new processes have to…

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Case Study: Using DFSS and DOE to Increase Product Reliability

A medical devices company, developing technology to enable smaller medical devices, launched a substrate development effort as part of a larger-scale technology and product development effort. The substrate development effort involved predicting the stress caused by the laser welding process to ensure product reliability. In this Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) case study, design and…

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DMAIC Case Study: Accuracy of System-generated Service Routes

A leading environmental services company provides collection, processing, recycling and disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous materials for industrial and automotive customers. The company has branches all over the United States. The service representatives in these branches carry out services for geographically dispersed customers in their respective territories. This case study describes how DMAIC (Define, Measure,…

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Case Study: Improving Recruitment Processes – Part 2 of 2

In this case study, a team strives to improve the recruiting process in a large, fast-moving consumer goods company. Part 1 focused on reducing the recruiting cycle time. Part 2 focuses on decreasing the effort required to fill a job opening. The case described here uses total quality management (TQM) to address the problem of…

Case Study: Improving Recruitment Processes – Part 1 of 2

In this case study, a team strives to improve the recruiting process in a large, fast-moving consumer goods company. Part 1 focuses on reducing the recruiting cycle time. Part 2 focuses on decreasing the effort required to fill a job opening. Rising attrition is a common problem across industries. Tight monthly, quarterly and annual objectives…

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Case Study: Improving Purchase Order Process

The accounts payable shared services center (SSC) of a large Ohio-based healthcare system completed a Six Sigma operational enhancement and reporting project. This case study reviews the course of the project which endeavored to establish standard invoice processing times and develop an ongoing system for monitoring how well those standards are met. Over the last…

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Case Study: Reducing Turnaround Time of Lab Reports in the ICU

A 250-bed hospital had implemented total quality management (TQM) to improve customer delight in its diagnostic clinics. After that success, the management team of the hospital was ready to proceed with further process improvement. After completing a brainstorming and prioritization exercise, the team determined to next address the problem: delay in receiving test reports for patients…

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DMAIC Case Study: Improving System Availability

A leading environmental services company applied the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology to improve the availability of an internal software system. The goal was to reduce system downtime (the time that the software application is not available for users) and reduce defect resolution time (the time it takes to fix a software defect…

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Case Study: Use Six Sigma to Reduce Temporary Labor Expenses

In any plant, when production increases above planned-for levels – whether due to sudden increased demand or unexpected constraints in the system – contract labor may be brought in as a quick fix. While this provides some flexibility in operations, increased labor costs is a problem. Six Sigma can be used to optimize these changing…

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Improving the Productivity of a Service Team

The manufacturing and transactional worlds have long used productivity as a measure of efficiency. Traditionally, a productivity metric has been used for assessing return on investment on machinery to measure the contributions of team members. In the growing service economy where human resources are the biggest driver of costs in the organization, management teams want…

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FLEXcon: Lean for the Long Run

The following are selected highlights of a corporate leadership profile of FLEXcon. The complete article – with more details about Lean application and how the company avoided layoffs during the recession – is available for purchase on the iSixSigma Marketplace. FLEXcon positions itself for growth by embracing Lean at every level More than 50 years…

Improving Outbound Calling Conversion Rates

Internet betting exchange Betfair invests heavily in different marketing activities, and one of the most effective marketing channels is outbound calling. The outbound marketing team employs a number of different campaigns. Its main focus, however, is to reach out to customers who have registered online, but not yet placed money in their betting account. The…

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A Case of Mistaken Capability

Lean Six Sigma (LSS) teams focus on the statistical analysis of metrics when identifying opportunities for improvement. The strong focus on data-driven evaluation, however, can overshadow the human element that exists behind the data collection plan. Despite its importance, the impact of human interaction is not easily visible or quantified, buried under reams of data….

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Reducing WIP at a Frozen Food Manufacturer – Part 2 of 2

The following is Part Two of a two-part article. Part One follows the first three steps of a DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) project at Kahiki Foods. Part Two follows the completion of the DMAIC project – the Improve and Control steps. Improve The enhanced choke-point analysis completed in Analyze verified the chicken processing…

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DMADV Case Study: Performance Management System Redesign

To facilitate the development of its employees and better respond to the changing business environment, one department of a large financial-services company decided to revamp its existing performance management system through a Six Sigma project. A pre-project analysis revealed that a complete redesign of the system was required. As incremental improvement in the existing system…

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Team Teachings: Improving Process Operator Competency

Polymer chip manufacturing is a multi-step, large-volume process that makes hundreds of millions of pounds of products annually at a typical plant. Unlike fiber extrusion, which requires the use of multiple units of specialized equipment, chip manufacturing involves fewer machines operated in either continuous or batch modes. Chip manufacturing is often driven by operator decisions,…

Improving Lab Performance with Six Sigma

Laboratories can be a taxing environment in which to implement Lean and Six Sigma. Labs are not the same as manufacturing – where Lean and Six Sigma got their start – because they typically have more variability in workload, less operational focus, less process reliability and longer task cycle times. However, through creative adaptation of…

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Case Study: Implementing an Automated Time and Attendance System

Companies lose an average of 5 percent of revenue annually due to payroll process inefficiencies, errors and fraud. Leaders at Océ Business Services, a provider of outsourced document process management services, estimated that their company had an even greater opportunity because of their outsourcing model – employees based on client premises supporting thousands of individual…

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The Path of Least Resistance: Is There a Better Route?

Driven by nationwide technologist shortages, an industry-wide focus on quality and rising consumer demand, healthcare is feeling the pressure to deliver more with less. Given this challenging environment, some organizations have come to the conclusion that taking the path of least resistance may not be the best approach. For many, delivering quality patient care is…

Medical Transcription Six Sigma Case Study

Today’s industrial black belt typically trains for six months. Seventy-five percent of this training time is spent learning theory, and the balance is spent in practice. Often when the black belt returns to the real world to tackle inefficiencies, he finds that there are no takers for his logic and passion – his Six Sigma entreaties fall on…

Coronary Artery Bypass Grafts: Six Sigma Breakthrough

Six Sigma, 6s, is nothing more, and nothing less, than the use of science to solve problems. Scientific evidence that a breakthrough medical solution is genuine is statistical evidence. Though altruism and evidence influence medical treatments, economic pressure drives improvement. Multi-million dollar savings created by “beating heart” or “off-pump” coronary artery bypass outcomes are a…

Software Vendor Partnership Cost Reduction with Six Sigma

Business Issue A multibillion-dollar software manufacturer needed to drive down the total $191 million annual cost of supplying its workers with continuously updated workstations. Both the software manufacturer and its primary vendor/supplier were in the midst of an aggressive cost cutting initiative that would lead to a new compensation model. The initial, first year targeted…

HMO Formulary Standardization Six Sigma Breakthrough

Business Issue All medications are not created equally. Reopro (generic name: abciximab), Integrilin (generic name: eptifibatide) and Aggrastat (generic name: tirofiban) are all platelet-inhibiting drugs used in cardiac care. Each is priced differently. They act on patients in slightly different but clinically significant ways. The key critical to quality issue in healthcare is patient safety….

Using Six Sigma to Improve Clinical Quality and Outcomes

Appropriately implemented, Six Sigma clearly produces benefits in terms of better operational efficiency, cost effectiveness and higher process quality. Perhaps less obvious – and until recently less documented – is the impact it can make in clinical areas such as infection control and medication delivery. Clinicians are often receptive to Six Sigma given its familiar scientific and…

Read-Rite Low FPY Manufacturing Case Study

Read-Rite Philippines is the manufacturing site for the Tape Head Business Unit, and the core competency is assembly and test. Read-Rite Philippines manufactures magnetoresistive tape heads to the entry level through mid-range tape drive markets, with products such as Travan, DLT (Digital Linear Tape), SLR (Scalable Linear Recording) and SDLT (Super DLT). The Elite Sigma…

Six Sigma Software Development Case Study

This article illustrates the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) process using an organization that develops software packages as an example. The Six Sigma DMAIC approach to process improvement provides a powerful mechanism for improving the software process. Typical benefits will exceed costs within 6 to 12 months from initiation of a Six…

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Six Sigma Software Development Case Study – Part 2

This article illustrates the Six Sigma DMAIC process using an organization that develops software packages as an example. The Six Sigma DMAIC approach to process improvement provides a powerful mechanism for improving the software process. Typical benefits will exceed costs within 6 to 12 months from initiation of a Six Sigma program for software development,…