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Lean

Introducing Agile Sigma

When it comes to selecting the “right” business process improvement methodology, many CEOs, CIOs and COOs have a wide array of options available including Six Sigma, Lean, Lean Six Sigma and ISO9000. The selection process then typically focuses on evaluating business drivers and deciding on an improvement methodology that closely matches their needs to improve…

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Use a Classification and Regression Tree (CART) for Quick Data Insights

In the Analyze phase of a DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) Six Sigma project, potential root causes of variations and defects are identified and validated. Various data analysis tools are used for exploratory and confirmatory studies. Descriptive and graphical techniques help with understanding the nature of data and visualizing potential relationships. Statistical analysis techniques,…

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Resource Page: Takt Time

During the month of August – while many are taking time off to enjoy summer – we will be offering a resource page on a different topic each week. The resource page features an overview of the week’s topic and links to the best related content  across iSixSigma. This week’s topic is takt time. What…

Tri-State Industries Grows with Lean Manufacturing

Tri-State Industries was founded by Don Keller in 1980 as a manufacturer of industrial pipe guides and slides. In the 1990s, the company adopted the principles and practices of Lean manufacturing. Since its founding, Tri-State has grown to three product lines with a fourth in process. Along with pipe guides, Tri-State is a manufacturer of…

Heijunka: The Art of Leveling Production

Heijunka (pronounced hi-JUNE-kuh) is a Japanese word that means “leveling.” When implemented correctly, heijunka elegantly – and without haste – helps organizations meet demand while reducing while reducing wastes in production and interpersonal processes. According to many Lean experts, heijunka is better achieved as a later-stage implementation in a Lean organization, long after value streams have…

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Lean Start-up: A Cycle of Continuous Evolution

At the heart of the new-product development movement known as “Lean start-up” is a conversation. The conversation starts with an idea – a hypothesis – about what customers care about and how a company or an institution can address that with a product or service, with a concerted effort on soliciting the voice of the…

Lean Implementation for IT Company

An information technology (IT) services company was engaged by a European telecom service provider to provide end-to-end testing for its five lines of business. End-to-end testing is a methodology used to test whether the flow of a software application is functioning as expected from start to finish – for example, from receipt of customer order…

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Solving Decreasing Sales With Lean Six Sigma

Online retailer ABC sells books, DVDs, CDs, MP3 downloads, software, video games, apparel, furniture, food, toys and jewelry. ABC has a strong market research unit and a seamless feedback loop for enhancing the customer experience. In the last few years, however, sales had dropped significantly contributing to a slip in the overall market share of…

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The Harada Method: Reduce the Eighth Waste – Part 1 of 2

The Harada method helps individuals achieve self-reliance that in turn facilitates a company’s process improvement journey. This week’s article provides an overview of the method and its genesis. Part Two of this article presents five templates to use to plan a goal, measure the goal’s progress and assess success. No matter its size, an organization is driven by…

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Lean Manufacturing Is a Form of Ethics

According to Merriam-Webster, ethics is the discipline of dealing with good and bad. If you look beyond the tools and the jargon of the Toyota Production System (TPS), this is exactly what you will find; TPS is a system for defining good and bad, and right and wrong in a production environment. When we understand…

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Applying Lean to New Product Development in Engineering Services

Lean can be applied to any industry, not just manufacturing, because any business can benefit from improvements in cycle time, cost savings, productivity, efficiency and more. This case study examines the application of Lean to the engineering services industry in the areas of design, analysis and prototyping of parts to realize improvements in a subprocess…

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Managing to Standard Work in the Office

In the fourth quarter of 2010, Fairbanks Morse Engine had to swallow a tough message from its customers: You are too slow and we are not going to take it anymore! After an extensive voice of the customer (VOC) effort, it was clear that our lead times for aftermarket parts were missing customers’ expectations. Although…

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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…

Gemba Walks Come to Life at Fairbanks Morse Engine

Editor’s note: In a previous article, author Lindquist describes what a gemba walk is. Here he presents three examples of gemba walks. Gemba walks at Fairbanks Morse Engine demonstrate the importance of the sometimes-overlooked basics of process improvement. Case Study One Single Process – Pama Machining Center Observation: The objective of a series of events…

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The Many Sides of a Gemba Walk

Editor’s note: A follow-up article features three specific examples of gemba walks. With so many tools available to a continuous improvement professional, it is easy to get overwhelmed and consequently focus on a narrow grouping of tools. Experience expands the practitioner’s toolbox, but sometimes it is just as important to return to the foundations to…

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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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Beware of Tools and 'The Next Big Thing'

Isn’t it amazing how there’s “the next big thing” everyday? Headlines from blogs, sales websites, newspapers, even Twitter and LinkedIn, carry this headline continuously. How many of these “things” really are new? Years ago when I started my continuous improvement journey, I read about Deming and Juran. Quality Circles and SPC were big. Then Total…

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Lean Manufacturing Vs. Continuous Improvement

Let’s start off by defining Lean manufacturing. Lean (as described on multiple on-line resources) is described as a production practice that focuses on the elimination of wasteful elements in all process to increase the value to the customer. Sounds great! What organization wouldn’t want to implement a program to eliminate waste? The problem is that…

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Why Lean Manufacturing Fails

During both prosperous and difficult times, successful businesses naturally look for new ways to improve performance. However, in recent years, as the world economy suffered through one of the worst recessions in history, many companies turned in droves to Lean and other variations of continuous improvement programs to rescue their sagging businesses. But, did they…

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Lean Leaders Are Everywhere – If You Make It So

The first article of this series discussed how many Lean initiatives either fail outright or fail to deliver as planned. Furthermore, that article went on to attribute these shortcomings to four cultural factors. This article explores the second of these cultural factors: Lean Leadership. We will focus on why leadership is critical and highlight the…

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Japan Disaster Rattles Manufacturers Worldwide

According to a March 24 report from Objective Analysis, nearly 25 percent of the world’s semiconductor production capacity is in Japan, as well as more than 60 percent of the silicon wafers from which semiconductor chips are created. In 2010, industry analysis firm iSuppli determined that Japan held about 35 percent of the $31.5 billion…

Car Makers Struggle with Supply Chains One Month After Japan Quake

Honda is only the latest of several automobile manufacturers to report production slowdowns in the wake of last month’s Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis – triple catastrophes that have crippled global car production supply chains and reduced overall capacity by as much as 30 per cent, according to the British newspaper The Independent.

Finding the Balance Between Leadership and Management

The first article of this series discussed how a number of Lean initiatives either fail outright or fail to deliver as planned. Furthermore, the first article went on to attribute these shortcomings to four cultural factors: an organization’s purpose, its leadership, how it treats its people and how the organization views continuous improvement. This article…

Two Lean Authors Win Shingo Research, Professional Publications Awards

The authors of two books on Lean and leadership, published by the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), received Shingo Research and Professional Publication Awards at the 23rd Annual Shingo Prize Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Follow the Learner: The Role of a Leader in Creating a Lean Culture, by Dr. Sami Bahri, and The Lean Manager,…

Lean Line Balancing in the IT Sector

Line balancing – the process of aligning operations within a specific production line to minimize production fluctuations and operational downtime – is often closely associated with the manufacturing sector. However, it also can be applied to any process-based organization that delivers output on a frequent basis. Some examples where line balancing can be used in…

Lean Revamp of 767 Line Helped Boeing Win Tanker Bid

After a contentious 10-year competition with European rival EADS, the Boeing Co. won a hard-fought $35 billion contract to supply the U.S. Air Force with new refueling tanker aircraft, due in part to the Lean methods the aerospace manufacturer recently adopted for its 767 line.

Checking In with Starwood's Evolving Lean Six Sigma Program

Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?… Well, almost gone. After 10 years of ups, downs and near cancellations, the Lean Six Sigma team at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, North America, knows what it’s like to see years of hard work nearly wiped out by mistakes…

Lean Techniques Help Boeing Production Take Flight

In December 2010, the company announced that it would be ramping up production of its popular 777-series wide-body jet from 5 airplanes a month to 7 per month in 2011, and again to an average of 8.3 a month in 2013. Earlier in the year, Boeing also said it would be boosting production of its…

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Laird Technologies Wins Lean Excellence Award for China Facility

Laird Technologies Inc., a St. Louis, Mo., USA-based supplier of antennas for mobile devices, has won the 2010 Great Wall Award for Lean Manufacturing Excellence in China. Laird’s manufacturing facility in Beijing, China, was recognized by the China-based Great Wall Award (GWA) Committee for having the best implementation of Lean manufacturing throughout China.

Top Lean Six Sigma IT Trends to Come in 2011

As the calendar flips to 2011, several technology experts and software providers have made predictions about how Lean Six Sigma and other process improvement methodologies will shape IT departments in the coming year. Collected here are four of their forecasts for the next 12 months.

Lean Medical Device Maker Named 'Up and Coming Business'

Phase II Medical Manufacturing Inc., a single-use medical device maker based in Rochester, N.H., USA, was recently recognized as the “2010 Up and Coming Business of the Year” at the annual meeting of the New Hampshire Bio/Medical Council. In the last two years, Lean processes have helped the company reduce waste and energy while expanding…

E-Z-Go Accelerates Six Sigma Buy-in Through Lean

Employed with Textron for 22 years, Stern entered the continuous improvement program in 2005 as a Black Belt and has since become a Master Black Belt. She currently oversees training in Textron’s CI program and leads value stream mapping improvement workshops. Here are Stern’s thoughts about the evolution of the company’s CI efforts and how…