Lean Manufacturing

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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The techniques of Lean Manufacturing are generally considered to be compatible with Six Sigma techniques. The main goal of applying Lean Manufacturing to a system is to eliminate waste in all aspects of business production. By doing so, you can trim the standard deviation down to an acceptable level (less than or equal to 3.4 parts per million).

In many cases, Lean Manufacturing techniques would optimally be used within the Six Sigma framework. Commonly, the first step of the improvement process is to define the scope of the project, and then define the main problems with production. In most cases, this step involves brainstorming to identify all of the problems, and then group the problems and prioritize them according to Critical to Quality (CTQ) issues. This step helps put problems in perspective, defining them as the difference between the desired output and current state.

By developing specialized data collection sheets, the causes for deviation from the desired outcome can be tracked, identified, and subsequently analyzed. Lean Manufacturing ideas can then be applied to achieve the new productivity goal. Principles such as zero waiting time, having zero inventory, and line balancing can be developed into a pilot implementation plan. By carefully monitoring and testing the operational systems involved, teams can collect data according to Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma guidelines and develop innovative solutions that attack the areas of wasted time, effort, and space.

The Six Lean Manufacturing Principles

There are six Lean Manufacturing principles in all: Zero waiting time, Zero inventory, a customer pull-based scheduling system, batch size reduction, line balancing, and cutting processing times. By examining the areas of wasted time and effort in every aspect of a business, practitioners can cut out time lags and wasted effort. They can then successfully use Six Sigma practices to reduce deviation and maintain the new standards.

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