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How much low fruit can there be?

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Old Forums General How much low fruit can there be?

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  • #30037

    John Anderson
    Participant

     
    I know I am at risk for asking this question, but here it goes… I have followed this site, read articles and listened to a college training proposal on Six-Sigma.  I am still skeptical that Six-Sigma is right for our organization.   If smaller companies like us have been in the continuous improvement mode for years by incorporating, lean manufacturing, kaizen, SPC and others, is there really that much to be learned and gained thru training and incorporating Six-Sigma tools?
    I have interviewed other smaller companies like ourseveles and got mixed responses.  However, one thing that was in common with all, the costs savings actually realized was limited.  I believe this was because the low hanging fruit was ripe for the taking a long time ago by other means.

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    #77853

    Patrick
    Participant

    John,
    You can find out if there are opportunities for improvement beyond “the low hanging fruit” if you baselined your existing processes, determined their current sigma level and checked that they were capable enough to meet and exceed customer expectations.
    If they do, then kudos to you.  But are they in control? (I am of the opinion that there is always room for improvements).
    If they don’t, then there is definitely room for improvement to your existing processes, or a requirement to design new ones that meet the capability requirements of your customers.
    My two cents.
    P

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    #77855

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    John,
    How can anyone be at risk asking anything on a website. The other day they posted the numbers that about 10,000 people a day access this site. There probably isn’t more than 2-3000 per day thinking the samething you are asking.
    I agree with you that the amount of low hanging fruit is finite. The other side of that is that everything that gets harvested doesn’t have to be low hanging fruit. If you watch people harvesting fruit some of them use ladders because there is stuff up in the tree. It would be just a guess but I would be willing to bet you are ways away from process nirvana.
    Even if you get your processes to perfection you still have some ground to cover. In reality SS deployed ina manufacturing environment is rework (an improvement project). The efficent method is to go through NPI without defects which leads back to designing without defects which leads back to can marketing accurately figure out what the market needs and wants.
    As long as you are fixing things on the production floor there is something up stream that is screwed up.
    My mentor in Motorola was a man named John Lupienski (motorola, Elma, New York). He has spent the last 5 years taking his factory from 5.2 to 5.8. John knows this stuff backwards and forwards and wouldn’t be spending that kind of time if he could do it with low hanging fruit.
    Good luck.

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    #77857

    New 2 the Game
    Participant

    In response to the question of available low fruit, I too have concerns that the limits will eventully be realized. I’m new to the SS game, and will attend the first week of training next week. I am currently attempting to define my first project scope and payback. What I have come to realize is that the SS BBs that preceded me reaped a pretty good harvest of fruit, got their bellies full (and some of them got sick too) and then with time realized that the cycle starts all over again. I work in at a facility that employess ~ 300 people. We have 2 MBB and 6 BB (including myself). All BBs are now struggling to define worthwhile projects (> $250,000). If SS is truly different than other quality programs by focusing on the economic savings (as all the experts testify), then when is a facility overstaffed with SS resources? Personally, I’m concerned.

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    #77858

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    N2G,
    It is easy to get to many BB’s in a facility. In a facility of 300 there should be 2-3 max only because I don’t think you should have an isolated BB. When you get to many they end up falling all over each other trying to find a project.
    As far as qualifying a project and it has to take $250,000 to qualify – that is some pretty stupid criteria. It is ROI. Why would the criteria for a investment in any other form be any different for a BB project. If the normal criteria is payback in 12 months and that is a good investment – why would a BB project be different.
    AS far as low hanging fruit. Who wants to fix an easy problem? Anybody can fix an easy problem – your sense of accomplishment should be coming from fixing the problem nobody else could fix.
    If you are personally concerned who have you talked to about it (besides about 9,999 people who can’t do anything about it)?
    Good luck.

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    #77860

    Benjamin
    Participant

    John,
    I believe I understand where you are coming from. I, too, work for a small company and have felt the same way you feel. The advice that I can provide is to look for the costs of the business and focus your efforts there. I’ve been doing it for 3 years and every time I go looking for a project (about once every 3-6 months), I initially feel the same way you do. Then, I get my hands on a couple of ideas and begin collecting data. One usually turns out to be not worthwhile while the other turns out to be valuable to the business and bottom line. Just keep looking and digging in the data and opportunities will present themselves.
    Good luck,Charles

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    #77887

    Stephens
    Participant

    Whenever I hear this question, I feel like people believe there are dramatically different TOOLS available in Six Sigma than were previously available in SPC et al (fill in whatever words you’d like here).  To me, Six Sigma is NOT about additional tools.  It is about 1. Process management – getting process “owners” to understand what their customers want and finding ways to measure if we are giving it to them.  2. Having full-time resources to work on projects when gaps exist. and 3. Making sure these projects return a benefit to the business.  (if not, why do we need the full time people).   John, if your company has achieved these results without Six Sigma… great, celebrate, and keep doing what you are doing.  To me, Six Sigma is more about getting Management focused on continuous improvement by producing results, rather than a new and different way for quality professional to perform!
    My two cents!

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    #78014

    john beaudoin
    Participant

    John, you have a great question.  You also have gotten some good answers.  Mike mentioned going after the high hanging fruit and to reach the ulitimate in 6-Sigma, Design for Manufacturing.  When you are GE and Motorola, you produce volume: so much so that 3.4 defects per million from a few thousand defects per million is still a considerable savings.  In many smaller companys, your opportunities may be measured in 100’s or 1000’s, and having one defect in that may give you a poor sigma number, but may be expected by your company.  Depending on the ramifications of your defect, it may not be worth the investment in training for 6-Sigma initially for such incident, however, do not forget the customer.
    Instead of focussing on cost reductions and manufacturing defects, focus on the factors that are critical to the customer.  Improve satisfaction levels of customers to better than 80%.  This needs to start with developing effective tools for measuring customer satisfaction levels.  Once you do this, you can grow your business, realized gains by increased sales and greater shares of customers spendable budgets, and if effective enough, you will producing to the likes of the Motorola’s and GE’s.
    Increased Revenue and customer base can be in some cases much more desirable than a decreased cost project, especially when most of the inefficiency has been eliminated.

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    #78062

    Mark P.
    Participant

    Craig,  Your explanation of 6S is the most common sense response I’ve heard.  People get too caught up in belts and certifications to understand what its really all about.  I’ve been looking for a simple way to explain 6S to employees who are new to the subject.  Appreciate it.
     

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    #78067

    Penny
    Participant

    Craig-Thank you!   The most sense I’ve heard in a long time!

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