A problem arises in a manufacturing company where in recent weeks high machine breakdown were reported in the production floor – accumulating on average 15% of unscheduled downtime. Neville Clarke was asked to train & equip their employees with Root Cause Analysis problem solving methodology as part of the company’s continuous improvement effort to resolve process issues and improve productivity.
An organisation consists of a group of people and a set of processes running. Every now and then problems will surface within the organisation; be it a long running product or service non-conformance (producing sets of defects or rejects), process variations, customer complaints and so on. There are many problem solving tools & techniques exist in this world that the business can undertake; Six Sigma, Lean, Root Cause Analysis, 7 QC Tools, 8 Discipline Problem Solving Approach, just to name a few. Many of these techniques have been integrated to become an integral part of Quality Management System like ISO 9001.
There are some commonalities exhibited in many of these problem solving techniques. Two of them are ‘problem identification’ and ‘formation of a team’ stage – which are essential to successfully address the problem(s). It doesn’t matter which stage comes first, as long as it undergoes both stage, it suffice.
Often, inspection is needed as one of the quality control technique in industry. While 100% inspection is the most straight forward and commonly used technique, it comes with a lot of undesirable impacts, such as high cost and time consuming that makes it impractical in most cases. Furthermore, it does not guarantee 100% compliance to the requirements. Therefore, it raises the needs for sampling plans that economically provide us with a reasonable amount of protection to ensure good quality.
Continual improvement tools can be applied in various industries depending on their respective organisational needs. These tools are not only geared towards providing breakthrough improvements in an organisational process and operation but also a sustainable “Greener” growth. Tools on cost management can help organisations optimise their resources respectively while not compromising quality. Such efficiency in utilisation of resources can aid organisations in gaining competitive advantage; in line with this, cost management tools can be partnered with output management and problem solving techniques which would ensure long term business survival and sustainability.
T is for Total Quality
Competition is stiff, and as manufacturing companies expand and diversify their operations, the need for overall quality in output and operations management becomes more evident. Quality for manufacturing companies may be defined as the combination of a well executed method to deliver results and a collective involvement of individuals/group geared towards the improvement of machine availability, performance and output. So the question now is how can quality and operational excellence be achieved in a very competitive playing field?
Quest for answers gave birth to what is now known as TOTAL PRODUCTIVE MAINTENANCE (TPM). Its pillar based approach does not only help organisations adhere to a “World-Class Operations Management” (WCOM) through efficient practices, but also help management realise total quality.
5S is a continual improvement philosophy that focuses on workplace organising to facilitate the achievement of Customer Delight and organisations KPIs such as Quality, Costs, Delivery, Safety, Morale and Productivity (QCDSMP), on a sustainable mode. It remains the foundation or launching pad for future and more complex improvement activities.
Blitz Kaizen is a methodology whereby implementation is given a ‘steroids effect’ to jumpstart the improvement activities to be rapid and results-oriented. Hence the term Blitz rapid, focused, short-term strike at the issues or problems to be tackled. Kaizen is a Japanese term and it meant small, incremental improvement. It also means ‘to take it apart, and put it back together in good conditions. Combining the two terms, Blitz Kaizen means “small, focus, incremental improvement at rapid pace”
Training Within Industry (TWI) was widely used during World War 1 for shipbuilding and during World War 2 to enable the production of reliable quality military supplies in the United States. The TWI programme was introduced by the US government to assist manufacturers in transforming a workforce which had little or no industrial knowledge, skills and experience, to becoming the powerhouse behind the war effort. The principles of TWI were adopted by Japanese manufacturers in the post-WW2 era and within 20 years, the Japanese had surpassed well-established industrialised nations.
To succeed and sustain a competitive advantage in a world where business gets tougher, organisations need to increase the rate of innovation. The theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) is an approach that can increase a person’s ability to generate creative solutions and help almost every organisation to develop innovative capabilities. This article shows how TRIZ Is applied to help generate creative solutions to tackle a sample problem.
“5S? We have been implementing 5S for years!” - a common respond by most when asked if they have heard of 5S. An explanation of 5S often comes in the way of “Oh, we get our people to organise and tidy up their workplace every day – keeps the place clean, you know!” A good practise, nonetheless, a mere shadow of what a true 5S system is about.
Evolving Quality Management System into a Framework of Operational Excellence
The ever changing global economy coupled with fierce competition and growing sophistication of customer needs warrants a sustained breakthrough performance in key areas of business. While the ISO family of Quality Management System provides the necessary ingredients leading to the success of an organisation, it doesn’t provide the means and the how’s to achieve the company’s vision for sustained breakthrough performance.
Theory of Contraints (TOC) is a philosophy attributed to the pioneering work of Dr. Eli Goldratt in 1986. In the 1980s, while Asia was focusing on setting up factories and product quality improvements, the West embraced TOC which linked system improvements to the bottom line.
A key premise in this theory is that the rate of revenue generation is limited by at least 1 constraining process or bottleneck. Hence, to increase overall throughput or revenue generation, we must treat the bottleneck.
What is a constraint or bottleneck? It can be the market (eg not big enough), a policy constraint (eg must sell all products at all cost even those with thin or negligible profit margin), or an internal resource constraint (eg lack of competency, insufficient capacity).
Lean Sigma is the KEY to the High Performance & Successful Organisation. Businesses gauge success by a multitude of matrices – revenue, income, profit, customer satisfaction, market share, return on equity, return on assets, return on investments, and many more. Ultimately, true success is attaining and sustaining BUSINESS RESULTS over time, with the fact that the customers’ and share holders’ expectations are ever increasing.
Due to the constraint of resources in every organisation, the challenge lies in determining the vital few results to focus on and the critical metrics that best monitor performance. The Fortune 500 list serves as another metric of success. Of the top 100 companies, 70 have been in the top 100 for five or more years. Interestingly, 63% of these 70 companies acknowledge implementing Six Sigma to some degree.
“Lean Transformation” and “Six Sigma Breakthrough Improvement” are complementary in nature and, if effectively integrated, represent a long-term business improvement initiative that can produce unprecedented results. While Lean focuses on eliminating non-value added steps and activities in a process, Six Sigma focuses on reducing variation from the remaining value-added steps. Applying Lean ensure that we are working on the right thing with shorter lead time and applying Six Sigma ensures that we are doing the right things right, every time as we do them. Lean defines and establishes the value flow as pulled by the customer, and Six Sigma makes the value flow more consistent.
These two methodologies interact and reinforce one another, such that percentage gains in Return on Investment Capital (ROIC%) are much faster if Lean and Six Sigma are implemented together. Therefore, we can say that Lean Sigma is a business improvement strategy that maximizes shareholder value by achieving the fastest rate of improvement in customer satisfaction, cost, quality, process speed, and invested capital.
Lean Sigma implemented effectively via the Neville Clarke’s approach is a dynamic, synergistic force that will result in process improvement that will contribute significantly to the organization bottom-line. Furthermore, the Lean Sigma business process improvement strategies bring a host of valuable tools to the workplace, which, if executed effectively with leadership support and commitment, can make a huge difference in the way companies work.
Lean-Sigma has moved beyond a concept toward a mandatory methodology. Organisations who implemented Lean-Sigma have very high process capability, very few variations, customer oriented and free from waste throughout its supply chain.
History of Lean-Sigma concept goes a long way back to the QS-9000 era and later on ISO/TS 16949 (both are quality management system standards for automotive industry). This can be seen on the goal of ISO/TS 16949, namely:
To develop a fundamental Quality System that provides for:
- continual improvement
- emphasis on defect prevention
- reduction of variation and waste in the supply chain
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