What it is and how it can help manufacturers in 2023
In 2023, manufacturers are facing workforce shortages, supply chain disruptions, and inflation. To adapt to these complications, many manufacturers are turning to a proven strategy for reducing costs, improving output, and upskilling their teams to become more powerful problem solvers—and that strategy is Lean Six Sigma.
What is Lean Six Sigma Green Belt? Let’s break it down.
Lean manufacturing was initially developed by Toyota and is a production method focused on reducing or eliminating waste to improve quality and increase throughput.
Originally developed by Motorola, Six Sigma is considered a top continuous improvement methodology comprised of statistically driven techniques and strategies for reducing errors and inefficiencies. The term “Six Sigma” comes from statistics; sigma ratings indicate the percentage or yield of defect-free products created in a manufacturing process.
“Green Belt” represents level 4 in Six Sigma proficiency and is considered a foundational, in-depth understanding of Six Sigma methodologies. A Green Belt in Six Sigma is prepared to help their companies overcome challenges with the most frequently used statistical tools and applications in the Six Sigma tool kit.
Eric Burton, Senior Solutions Advisor at iMpact Utah, explains, “Lean provides a lens through which you can solve problems by creating higher throughput and increased quality. Six sigma adds a layer—especially from the quality standpoint—that utilizes statistical tools to ferret out your problems, hypothesize cause and effect, and get to the heart of what’s driving variation.”
Through their Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Training, iMpact Utah was able to help a client reduce their machine shop setup time and save nearly 80k in production costs over the course of a year. Here’s how it worked:
The clients expressed that the machine shop was creating a “bottleneck” in their operations and slowing down production. As a result, operator frustration was high, and lead time was suffering.
The machine shop slow-down problem became the team’s project during their Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training—an applied learning scenario that benefits the company and achieves better learning outcomes for the team members. The client’s goal was to decrease set-up time in the machine shop and increase the number of jobs completed weekly.
To achieve their goal, the client’s team utilized the Six Sigma strategy of DMAIC: define, measure, analyze, improve, and control. Guided by iMpact Utah consultants, they created a “future state value stream map” to track their machine setup process and pinpoint where they lost value.
By tracing their routes, the client’s team discovered that re-arranging the machine shop floor could reduce the time spent gathering the needed supplies for setup. After some re-organizing, they were able to reduce wasted motion and excess set up time.
But how could they be sure these changes made a sustainable statistical difference? A fair question, especially when team members may need to prove their improvement plans are worth the investment to key stakeholders.
Burton emphasizes that “You want to be able to demonstrate to the boss or the owner that you’re spending money in order to make money. You’re investing your time into a project that’s going to have a measurable, beneficial result.”
The client’s team were able to demonstrate a return on investment using the Six Sigma strategies they learned in their Green Belt training. By tracking performance data before and after the process change, the team could show that they decreased set-up time by 28% and increased the number of jobs completed in a week by 71%. So not only did they make a difference, but they also had the statistical tools to back it up.
Overall, the client’s team spent 6k (including team member hours and consultation hours) to achieve a nearly 80k value over the course of the year. Their Six Sigma project allowed them to show that it only took four weeks to pay back the initial investment.
If you’re ready to invest in your own success story, check out iMpact Utah’s Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Training and get started on process improvement today.