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
One of the goals of Six Sigma is reduction of variation and one of the goals of Lean is reduction of waste in the supply chain. These goals are clearly stated as one of ISO/TS 16949 goals above. Does this mean that the automotive industry would like to have a synergy of Lean and Six Sigma? How does this apply in other industries?
The first goal of ISO/TS 16949 is to emphasize the importance of continual improvement in order to achieve excellence. The second goal emphasis on defect prevention is the purpose of quality management by Lean and Six Sigma. Organisations no longer try to detect the defect of output processes, but prevent the defect itself.
This way of thinking is inline with the principle of Poka Yoke (error proofing), one of Lean tools which states that every defect is caused by an error, although not every error can cause a defect. Defect prevention can be done by preventing an error.
Generally, engineers who work in the industry understand a technical problem on the Knowledge level, which means know about the problem from a text book. Some of the engineers are on a Comprehension level, a higher level which knows the phenomenon, able to understand an incident and relate it with theories in engineering. The term engineer here applies to everyone who is involved in the technical area, not only graduates from a faculty of engineering.
On the more advanced level, there is Application, Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation. Lean-Sigma encourage the engineers to make an experimental project, or often refer to as Design of Experiment (DoE).
By conducting an experiment, their understanding level will move toward Application and Analysis level, relating a phenomenon encountered with logic or laws of nature to make a conclusion. These steps denies the common assumption that theory differs with reality in practice. Gray area still exists, but in certain borders and no longer a significant gap.
We may then conclude that Lean-Sigma improves the quality of human resource in an organisation. No matter the condition of organisations ppm (part per million) or yield, Lean-Sigma will enforce the employee and organisation itself to improve its capability. The improvement of employee capability is an asset for the organisation to enter the global market.
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