Lean & Six Sigma Methodology – Basics

Lean Methodology   

  • The companies’ need for constant improvement and evolution leads to the search of management tools and methods to foster the development of customer service and to reduce the costs for all associated processes.
  • Accepting this perspective of management, where the achievement of excellence through continuous improvement of procedures and processes and the search for new management concepts are emphasized, led several companies to engage in management strategies where the assumptions of the “lean” philosophy are key. 
  • The basic concepts of the Lean philosophy arose initially from the 50s in Japanese companies and have been developing it up to today. These concepts are centred on just-in-time, where the only goal is the production of products only at the time they are requested.
  • The term “lean” is emerging as a new designation for production/management “philosophy” that opposes the concept of “mass production”.
  • In 1996, they published a second book Lean Thinking, and defined Lean thinking as “a way to specify value, lineup value-creating actions in the best sequence, conduct those activities without interruption whenever someone requests them, and perform them more and more effectively.
  • In short, lean thinking is lean because it provides a way to do more and more with less and less – less human effort, less human equipment, less time, and less space – while coming closer and closer to providing customers with exactly what they want”.
  • It provides the conceptual framework for categorizing all of the tools and practices of Lean production into five basic areas, the principle of Lean production can be shown in Table.
  • Although Lean production is focused on effectiveness in the production process, Lean thinking is more focused on the efficiency in the company as a whole, including nonmanufacturing: administration, and service.

Six Sigma Methodology                                                                                                                 

  • Six Sigma is a methodology to reduce the number of product defects and to reach organizational excellence.
  • It helps the organization to achieve a competitive advantage.
  • This is a structured methodology with systematic statistical-based techniques, which is used to improve the performance of processes / products or quality of a service by reducing process variation.  
  • In addition to statistical techniques, the methodology also incorporates other concepts such as financial analysis and project planning.
  • To systematize the application of this methodology in process improvement is often used a formal method called DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control).
  • This method is a closed loop that allows for the elimination of certain phases of a process (those with no added value to the product or service) and allows concentration on new metrics and application of different technologies for continuous improvement.
  • The use of DMAIC steps causes the realization of actions in a sequential and logical way, and in accordance with the scope of the project. 
  • Many of the tools and techniques may be applied in more than one stage of the methodology, since their purpose may coincide with the objectives of the tasks of each phase.
  • The Six Sigma is a philosophy that has evolved gradually with the results obtained in various organizations (industry and services).
  • One of the main factors when selecting a Six Sigma project involving services is positive financial impact and increased customer satisfaction
  • Like any quality improvement methodology, there are limitations in its implementation. Moreover, the service sector exhibits an increased difficulty, since this sector has highly dynamic processes. 
  • There are many possibilities of implementing Six Sigma projects in the service sector. But it is important to strictly define the characteristic of the process that will be measured, to ensure that it is critical for customer satisfaction and for the level of service quality.

Reference : International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, Volume 5, Issue 8,August-2018

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