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Where to begin?

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums Old Forums General Where to begin?

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  • #32688

    Jeptha
    Participant

    A short time ago some investors and myself bought a manufacturing business. The business is doing well. However , I am afraid it may be sort lived . The products demand is so great and the specs so wide it appears to be no challenge. That’s the way the business was previously run. Through agressive sales pressure has be put on production do deliver more product, within the manufacturing limits. What is apparent is the guru is not the guru and everyone operates this process differently according to his opionion of what’s best. Many changes are made and few are documented. there is a control system that monitors several parameters but it doesn’t record all the individuals changes. There seems to be a lot of potential for improvement but where to start. I have had some statistics training, Deeming , Juran back in the 80’s.

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    #87564

    Michael Schlueter
    Participant

    Interesting culture … what’s behind? Something to benefit from, some hidden threat? – I think I would start listening to the people involved, rather than introducing statistics, procedures or such. There is a reason why they (can) behave as they do.
    Why are you afraid it could be short living? How happy are customers with the products? Any complaints?
    No competitors? No innovation, no upcoming alternative designs, which are more capable than yours? – Recall IBM’s view on (demanded) mainframe-computers, when PC’s were introduced. Where have all the mainframes gone?
     

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    #87565

    Jeptha
    Participant

    What’s behind this is that this organization used to be part of a much larger company. There was never much attention given to this business. While we are making money there is a lot of dollars left on the table because of more potential sales. Our production is up and down like a yoyo. Continual maintence problems , little prevention. Few SOP’s.

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    #87567

    Michael Schlueter
    Participant

    Jeptha,
    Thanks, I do understand better now. Do you think this is the reaction of the people involved (employees, management etc.) on having been overlooked in the past? Does anybody else in this company see the danger of yoyo-effects? Or the benefit of doing better, e.g. in terms of job-security, growth or profit?
    Again, I think it is important to win peoples heart first, or at least get their awareness, amy be their trust; this makes necessary improvement much more easy. Standing in their shoes, listening to their explanations and worries, is an effective means to pay attention, in my view.
    Michael

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    #87577

    Ropp
    Participant

    Jeptha,
    I’m interested in knowing more about your situation, and helping if I can (I am not trying to sell anything).  Please reply if you are interested.
    a BB

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    #87583

    R.M.Parkhi
    Participant

    1.First draw a process plan,
    2.Find out the processes that are leading to quality problems like line rejections,customer irritants,bottlenecks in productions,
    3.Analyse the processes & introduce measurement system for these processes.Pl. use Shainin technique than x-r charts to reduce variability.
    4.Improve CPk of these processes.
    I shall be glad to answer any other queries.
    Regards,
    R.M.Parkhi

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    #87588

    Brian Hicks
    Participant

    This may seem a little harsh, but here goes:
    You’re running a business not a creche! You’ve crossed the line from employee to employer.
    I reacently attended a course on Action Centered leadership based on the film ‘Twelve O’clock High’ – the moral being the leader who was everyones friend got nothing done!
    Communicate your targets, set tasks with timescales – those who want to progress with the company will do them, those who don’t will leave anyway.(but don’t let them take their knowledge with them – SOP’s)
    Hope this helps?
     
     

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    #87592

    Jos_Belgium
    Participant

    Hello Jeptha,
    What you are saying seems logic to me. Because your production is pushed, it will react as a yoyo. Try to find the bottlenecks in your process, not in your production. Maybe it is maintenance or machine downtime. Maybe it is something else. Once you know this, set the correct prioritys to work on your key problem. Handle this problem in a project. This should be a correct project selection. Establish a team, and follow the DMAIC steps.
    If you don’t know how to follow a SixSigma project, be inventive. Use the tools that you have learned in the passed. The team aproach is crucial. If you don’t know the DMAIC methodology, you will probebly not go to the bottom line, but because of the yoyo effect, your team results will be significant.
    Maybe your production has more need for lean techniques then for reducing variation with the DMAIC method. I don’t know how big your knowledge is about the existing statistic tools that are available, but it seems to me that within your production there is a lot possible. Don’t forget to involve your sales people. They are in direct contact with your customers. Listen to those voces, and try to correlate it in your production.
    Succes.

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    #87603

    Jim Lynn
    Participant

    I suggest you step back and with your new owners and develop an overall strategy (one page strategic profile), clarify your vision, values, and what kind of value proposition you want to provide to your customers.  Get your own strategy and clear direction set before you start worrying about statistics and six sigma … is this business going to be more like wal-mart (low cost), sharper image (product leader) or nordstom (customer intimate)?  Jim Lynn

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    #87604

    Rj
    Member

     
    Sounds like typical problems seen in a number of businesses. The fact that you see them is the biggest part of solving them. There have been some good previous recommendations regarding how to start.
     

    You as the business owners need to determine what your goals are and where you think the biggest impact will be to the bottom line. You can not start everywhere at once so focus and get your employees involved. Communicate what you are doing and why as they will see it and need to know that this will add job security and not detract from it.
    You have highlighted some basic places to start (i.e. SOPs, money left on the table, etc.)
    Getting sales people involved is good, but there seems to be an area to focus on here as well. How do you know money is left on the table and why is it left.
    Have each department start by creating their SOPs and move from there into project teams implementing improvements where needed in a controlled method to attain the desired results.
     
    Hope this helpsrj MBB

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    #87615

    Janine Connelly
    Participant

    I agree, you have a big challenge in front of you.  It is my belief that you cannot make any improvements until you have an accurate picture of what is going on currently (right or wrong).  Therefore, document the current processes first . . . and fast.  Once it is documented and you what everyone is doing differently can use the best practices from each process to develop a common process.  PS – don’t do this in a vacumm.  Involve the people that work the process in the documentation of the process.
    Regarding documentation:  as you work on the processes, track the inputs, outputs, suppliers and customers of every process step, this will point to what should be documented.

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    #87619

    Marty Martin
    Participant

    Y = (f) X
    Apply the following to each & every process: 
    PF (process flow)
    CE (cause & effect) with C,N,X
    SOP (standard operating procedure)
    rule 1) know your X’s
    rule 2) data rules
    Have FUN, the rewards are great.
     

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    #87621

    Cone
    Participant

    Start with Lean. Specifically flow and standardized work.
    Rean The DNA of the Toyota Production System from HBR back in 99.
    Don’t start with Six Sigma

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    #87630

    Romano
    Member

    Your case sure bring back memories. About 10 years ago I was hired by a golf company that was in a very similar situation than the one you describe and here is a summary of what we did. I believe it was very practical and inexpensive.
    1.- Don’t be so critical about the current situation, think that people do what they do for a reason even if is not obvious what that reason is. You said it yourself, the company is making money.
    2.- When you say production goes like a yoyo what do you mean? Your production capacity goes up and down because of mechanical problems or your sales plan goes up and down due to customer requirements. In my case our customers were use to place orders any way they wanted and never offer a forecast which made it very hard to establish a constant production capacity. It took a lot of effort by sales to improve this situation with our customer but eventually got better.
    3.- Hire an (one) industrial engineer. His job will be to document the process and the different variations of it; then he’ll provide you with information about which of the existing options is really better (faster, cheaper, more capable). If more man power is needed, start a CO-OP program and bring in IE students that will support your industrial engineer. It’s the cheapest option.
    4.- Clean your data collection system, if you feel some info is not relevant don’t collect it any more. The IE can help you decide what information is really needed.
    5.- Don’t get buried in paper. It’s very easy to go from no SOP to too many (or absurdly detailed) SOP’s.  For starters document only those critical operations where more discrepancies occur (operations that directly affect the quality or cost of your product.)
    6.- Start introducing the culture of change to your people. Sell them the idea of improvement as to increase their job security specially if you see that the company as it is can be short lived. Reward those who are more willing to be part of improvements and discipline those who strongly oppose it. In my experience leadership is everything. If people see management really commited it’s easier that they’ll jump into the program with you. If they get mix signals as to what the direction is, there will be more resistance from the people who want to keep everything status quo.
    These will take several months to accomplish but will put you in a  better position to apply a more formal methodology in the future. Look as this as the opening movements in chess; you’ll get later to the middle game. Lean, Six sigma, Kaizen, etc. any of them are good for a company that has little to non SOP’s. And remember Keep It Simple.

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    #87632

    Dr. Dave Stimley
    Participant

    Try some basic observational studies of the various gurus to see which produces the best results.  ANOM – Analysis of Means is an excellent method for accomplishing this.  Next, incorporate these best practices into a proceedure. Bring this procedure into a state of statistical control.  Then improve it if necessary or move on to the next process.  Pareto your processes to determine where to start.  Current bottlenecks would be highest on your list if you are attempting to maximize throughput.

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    #87664

    Sakthivel
    Member

    In my openion the beginning of Six sigma is to be started with an assesment of Six sigma culture in the orgonization using a 8-10 critical six sigma charecterestics and evaluate where to start first. for example if the assesment reveals that there is a resistance to change culture in the orgonization, then it is not adviceable to start right away with the six sigma projects.
    Best wishes.
    Sakthivel
     

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    #87666

    Damodaran
    Member

    If  I was in this situation, I would have handled it this way
    1. Go for a quality systems certification (ISO 9000). This would help in documenting the existing processes and streamlining them through SOPs, checklists and so on. 
    2. Introduction of some basic SPC through control charts. This will let us know where the variations are coming from & take actions to improve processes
    3. Introduce cycle time studies once the above 2 are done. This will help identify opportunities to improve productivty. Some basics of Lean would help.
    4. It is only after having reached this stage, six sigma can be introduced as all the 3 points above are aimed at low hanging fruits. 
    All the while need to be in close touch with your customer getting his feedback on any improvements required & on the quality of the product.
    Hope this helps
     

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    #87686

    Shereen Mosallam
    Member

    I would suggest that you start first by SWOT analysis: strengthes, weaknesses, opportunities & threats.
    When you woork on SWOT, YOU HAVE TO ASK EMPLOYEES TO SHARE IN IT. They have the key information. They know the root causes of th eproblems most of the time
    Shereen

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    #87715

    Lou Melendez
    Participant

    Well,as we had experienced this situation in the past times, I would recommend these starting points;1) Do a VOC from the true customer viewpoint. Usually, your customer will usually supply the needed next improvement areas.
    2) Move towards a ISO9000 certification for repeatability.3) As production pressures increase for production volume, Fast Sigma may be a business direction to
    eliminate Non-value Processes.4) Performing a quick “workout” sessions to focus will assist in addressing “low hanging” fruit on certain business problems.3)

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    #87770

    Howard
    Participant

    I tried putting myself in you shoes as I read your message.  It seems the problems is restriction.  But, random and moving problems that cause restrictions at various points in the process, day by day.
    It sounds like the kind of moving target and wandering restrictions introduced by equipment unscheduled maintenance downtime.  What percentage maintenance downtime occurs monthly?  Very cost effective measures can be taken to eliminate most unscheduled downtime.  Then start.

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    #87775

    Jonathon
    Participant

    If your quality is adequate for now, and if your primary problem is getting enough product out the door, your plant sounds like a candidate for Theory of Constraints (TOC). Read Goldratt’s book The Goal for an introduction to the concept. Lots of reading is available for more advanced studies.
     
    The next step could be Lean Manufacturing, which could have some favorable impact on quality. Lean will help you increase output, while standardizing your processes.
     
    Not every organization should approach their issues in this sequence, but your entry makes it sound like TOC and Lean could get you a lot of what you need today.
     
    A final note: your product may meet customers’ current quality needs, but consider Juran’s two-part definition of quality. Part 1 is the delivery of what the customer needs. Part 2 is the efficiency of the organization in delivering it. It sounds like your place could benefit from inroads in part 2 – and your competitive position with part 1 will improve at the same time. Why bother? Because waste and rework probably are cutting deeply into your profits. Moral of the story: don’t wait until your customers tell you that a quality problem exists – get cracking before a crisis hits, and you can prosper handsomly.

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