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Case Study

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: 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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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: Improving the Flow of Cargo and Documents in a Shipping Company – Part 1 of 2

In this case study, a team wants to be sure their customer-focused business is satisfying its clients. Part 1 focuses on reducing the wait times associated with transferring cargo and documents. Part 2 looks at making more improvements using just-in-time (JIT) principles. A 15-year-old shipping company with a network of offices throughout India considered being “value-driven, customer-focused”…

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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: A DMADV Approach to Marketing and Advertising

The Corporation of the City of Kawartha Lakes (the City), Ontario, Canada, is a single-tier municipality that covers a land area of 3,067 square kilometers and includes more than 250 lakes. In addition to approximately 73,000 permanent residents there is a large seasonal population of approximately 31,000 residents each summer. More than 77 percent of…

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Case Study: Using the 5 Whys to Validate Assumptions

The effectiveness of any process improvement tool depends on the process improvement practitioners’ assessment of the situation, choice of the simplest tool and the creative use of the tool. This article provides an example of how a simple tool, the 5 Whys, was used to unearth an assumption embedded in a business process. Once the…

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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: Applying Six Sigma to Cricket

Cricket: Description and Glossary Cricket is one of the world’s most popular games. It is played between two teams of 11 players. In a one-day cricket game, each team is allowed to bat for a maximum of 50 overs and the team scoring more runs is declared the winner. Each team has a combination of…

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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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Case Study: Fault Reduction in Cable Industry

In the cable industry, faults (or defects) are often measured by technician visits to a customer’s home to address a problem experienced by that customer. Each such visit typically costs the company in the range of $120 to $150 – not counting the cost of the harm to their brand. Cable Industry Basics Especially problematic…

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Reducing Waste on Chicken Nugget Line – Part 2 of 2

The following is Part Two of a two-part article. Part One follows the first two phases of a DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) project at Kahiki Foods. Part Two follows the completion of the project – the Analyze, Improve and Control phases. Analyze During the Analyze phase, the monitoring of the average amount of…

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Reducing Waste on Chicken Nugget Line – Part 1 of 2

The following is Part One of a two-part article. Part One follows the first two phases of a DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) project at Kahiki Foods. Part Two follows the completion of the project – the Analyze, Improve and Control phases. Kahiki Foods, a family-run Asian foods manufacturer with about 200 employees in…

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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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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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Reducing WIP at a Frozen Food Manufacturer – Part 1 of 2

The following is Part One 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. Kahiki Foods is an expanding, family-run Asian foods manufacturer with about 200…

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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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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….

Improving Staff Scheduling at Providence Health System

As with most hospitals, labor is the largest budget expense at the Providence Alaska Medical Center (PAMC) in Anchorage. But benchmarking indicated that staff utilization at PAMC, a part of the Providence Health System, was above the 75th percentile of the national average. To remedy this, in October 2003, a multidisciplinary team (nursing, leadership, finance…

Improving Financial Services Through TQM: A Case Study

The work described in this case study was undertaken in a young, rapidly expanding company in the financial services sector with no previous experience with total quality management (TQM). The quality project began with a two-day introductory awareness program covering concepts, cases, implementation strategies and imperatives of TQM. The program was conducted for the senior…

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