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6S Projects without Process in Control?

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  • #44292

    Andy S
    Participant

    I work for a company that manufactures highly custom, usually low volume exhaust systems. Within the past year or so my company has jumped on the Six Sigma bandwagon. Upper management has really embraced it and it has become part of our core values. However, despite our in-house training for GBs and BBs, there seems to be many weaknesses in its application. All kinds of improvement projects are labeled 6S though they are not; teams jump to conclusions to “fix” problems without digging to the root; management and others make unreasonable bottom line targets without understanding the big picture or being able to scientifically validate their reasoning.
     
    My main concern is Six Sigma is not being utilized for where it could benefit most. Our manufacturing process is highly variable in setup times and production rates. A work cell could make a run of parts and then the same cell could make the same part a month later with a totally different setup time and rate. That coupled with the many different custom parts we produce and different lot sizing (and build quantities) makes for a highly variable process. Our system isn’t in process control, our quality is not very good (high scrap) and overall our system is all over the board.
     
    Is it wise to implement Six Sigma projects even though our process in not in control? It seems improving our manufacturing process would have the greatest impact on the bottom line and just make thing easier for everyone: operators, plant managers, costing, inventory, quality, etc you know the drill. Besides, it is common for current 6S projects to cite process statistics like “since we have eliminated the need to setup for this component we can save 1 hour of setup” and then equate that to dollars a year. But our process is so out of control you can’t say with any confidence you saved 1 hour of setup. You could have saved 6 hours or 6 minutes! I know you want to go for the low-lying fruit (mmmm… apples and oranges, jk), but what do you gain if the overall process prevents any control of what you thought you just accomplished? It might not be a good Six Sigma project (probably many smaller improvement projects), but would it be best to get the process in control first, and then move on to 6S? Or is it just a matter of choosing projects better and being able to focus the right X’s with the right Y’s?
     
    Thanks,
    Andy S

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    #141638

    Preacher
    Participant

    Andy S.,
    If your company has all kinds of BB’s & GB’s with nothing else to do then I see no harm in going for the low hanging fruit. However what you explained in your post doesn’t seem like your upper management really knows the concept of Six Sigma. I can feel your frustration because I am somewhat in a similiar boat.
    Cheers!
    Preacher

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    #141639

    pancholi
    Participant

    Hi Andy,
    If I were you, I’d define the first project as ‘Decreasing the Set-up Time Variation’ and the second project as ‘Standardizing the Production Rate’.  I’d highlight the root causes by using the 6s tools. I think you can take your processes under control using 6s. Then I think I’d go with the project ‘Scrap Rate Reduction’ and so on. Management would be happy to see that their main problems are analyzed (and solved hopefully) by the help of 6s.
    You have lots of opportunities there with 6s, I guess.
    Regards,
    Jenny

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    #141641

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    Andy S,
    It is difficult to know where to start to answer your question. I think maybe you need to consider that your Management Team has a better understanding than you do.
    First if you want to get your process under control before you use SS what process are you going to use to accomplish that? Even if you institutionalize “brainstorming” that is what you claim is being done now so what is the difference. You would be better off letting things run and since you understand the real SS you could do some projects following the real SS and migrate the program that direction?
    The other issue is your preoccupation with low volume high mix products. You are talking about your products and then you talk about your processes. This is thesame convenient argument the jobshop mentality uses to avoid any kind of systemic improvement. You don’t invent new processes to build each type of product. You have basic processes like welding that are used to build products. You might want to consider not focusing on products and understand the process and what variables affect those processes. Then it doesn’t matter what you build because you will understand what that process will do when you build that product.
    Tenneco may not be one of your direct competitors (or maybe they are they have areas that do very low volume) they have high and low volume business but I will guarantee you that the woman that is driving that program does not toy with any of the issues that you are putting up. I am sure they would love to see a company like your stand still for a while while you noodle your way through this quandry. There nothing easier that a stationary target.
    Just as an FYI the part of Motorola where some of the current SS consultants came from i.e. Gary Cone, Mario Perez Wilson, Dave Dippre, John Hathaway, etc. was a low volume high mix envirement.
    Just my opinion.

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    #141649

    The Emperor
    Member

    typical carnell….lot’s of fluff in the response and lot’s of name dropping….yet he chastises others for not contributing.

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    #141651

    Thalamus vs Cortex
    Member

    Dear Emperor,
    Obviously your intellectual development has not evolved much beyond the amygdala and its link to the hippothalamus. Of course, everything that mike says must seem like “fluff” with the kinds of links that currently exist to and within your cerebrum and cortex… Enjoy your emotional responses. Oviously cerebral information processing is not one of your strengths! . .. Your Thalamus!

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    #141666

    villageidiot
    Member

    OK, let me say I didnt read your question, if you had one….way too long.  Ask a question, wax unpoetically else where.  But based on your subject line:
    By basic definition, you can’t prove anything using inferential statistics without a stable, predictable process.  Lean it out.  Remove special cause.  Now welcome to AIC of DMAIC.  
    Sarcasm aside, I could be wrong….except about the length of your dissertation….verify.

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    #141690

    The Emperor
    Member

    thanks darty boy

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