Curious to explore various six sigma Tools and understand their uses in a streamlined process? If yes, then you are in the right place. Here I will take you through the most relevant and 12 Powerful six sigma Tools for Streamlined Manufacturing. Before we dive deep into the 12 powerful six sigma tools in streamlined manufacturing, let us gather some snippets of various aspects of streamlined manufacturing. Streamlining a process means manifesting the process to create a much simpler yet efficiently running system. To achieve this, many tools and techniques are employed. One such approach is the six sigma tools and techniques. There are many online certificate six sigma Courses available. What is Streamline Manufacturing? Any idea? Scroll down for a briefing of the same.

Note: Henry Harvin’s six sigma course is regarded as the top six sigma course in India.

Streamlined Manufacturing

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Have you wondered about the extensive steps involved in a manufacturing process? Well, it involves production, control, quality,  supply, customer relation, customer satisfaction, and so on. Time and again they repeat these steps to get that felicitous quality in the end product. By the sound of it, we realize that this is a complex process. But how do they manage the steps and run the process fluidly? The credit goes to the workforce and the technology involved. Here, lies the significance of streamlining a manufacturing process. Streamlining is the practice of reducing waste, improving the quality and communication among the team members to bring the maximum out of a process involved. 

Let us iterate the three aspects briefly:

Reducing waste using six sigma tools for streamlined manufacturing

Wastage can be either material wastage or labor wastage. It is common knowledge that the Manufacturing process can produce scraps and this can cut into the profits. So to curb this problem, the company needs to look into the production data, before the beginning of the production cycle and estimate the total cost of producing and analyzing it. For example, raw materials involved should be in proper and good condition. If not, they should replace them which results in lagging. Same way, they analyze each step with care.  In order to reduce wastage, they use many tools and techniques like the six sigma tools.

Quality-check and improvement -major role of the six sigma tools for streamlined manufacturing

What if after a production cycle is over and the quality of the end product is not at par with demand requirements? This again results in lagging and a great loss to the company. So, the quality analysis should start with raw materials and this is a crucial step in the manufacturing business.

Communication among the employees, another way to use six sigma tools for streamlined manufacturing

All the departments in an organization are connected by the ERP(Enterprise Resource Planning)  programs. There should be regular and consistent communication between various levels in the organization. To implement the above steps properly, there should be clear understanding and communication among the workforce.

Now that we understand the various aspects, steps, and actions involved in a streamlined manufacturing unit, let me give a brief tour of six sigma before delving into six sigma tools for Streamlined manufacturing.

Six sigma

Six sigma is a technique derived from the infamous statistical six sigma concept. Six Sigma in statistics means the six standard deviations from the mean which accordingly exhibits the least defect rate in any process. No wonder manufacturing processes use such a concept i.e to reduce defects leading to increase quality and profits. 

But how and who employed six sigma in Manufacturing Processes?

It all started in 1986 when Motorola incorporated six sigma into its manufacturing business. Eventually Honeywell and General Electric followed the suit. Profits in millions were imputed to the Six Sigma Technique. The next innovation in the field is Lean Six Sigma wherein Lean Manufacturing( eliminating defects and waste reduction) blends with Six Sigma Tools to create Lean Six Sigma.

More about six sigma

Six Sigma is a complex methodology. To simplify, common practice is to break it down into various levels like the Yellow belt, Six Sigma Green belt, black belt, and master black belt. Each belt consists of a set of working professionals with a specific goal. As an example, a yellow belt is the lowest level and consists of team members who work together on a particular project. On the other hand, the Black belt and Master black belt are the team leaders and they steer the team into achieving a common goal. 

The most popular and widely employed six sigma procedure is the DMAIC and DMADV methods.

DMAIC-Define Measure Analyze Improve Control

DMADV- Define Measure Analyze Define Verify. DMAIC improves a process, DMADV develops a new process.

  Six sigma Tools 

The main purpose of six sigma for streamlined manufacturing is to produce the perfect products to achieve maximum customer satisfaction. To accomplish this specific goal, each belt-level employees use different tools and techniques. These are the Six Sigma Tools.

Here I am listing 12 powerful Six sigma Tools for streamlined manufacturing

1. 5 whys 

The most relevant six sigma tool in a DMAIC project is the 5 whys. To find the underlying problem in a process we need to ask the 5 whys. If there is a problem anywhere in the process, we just ask why that problem occurred. If the reason for the problem doesn’t show up we ask the next why and so on. In case it is difficult to understand and rectify the problem in 5 whys we repeat the whys. Most times, the reason for the problem pops up and they resolve in the first 5 Whys. They use this as the Root Cause Analysis( RCA) of a problem.

The major steps followed while using this among 12 six sigma tool in streamlined manufacturing are

  • Form a team: Pick a team with members who are experts in the process-analyzis.
  • Identify the problem: Discuss the problem with the team members without much ado as time is a constraint in most problem-solving situations.
  • The 5 whys: Now that the team has identified and discussed the problem, it’s time to analyze the situation with the 5 whys. In some cases, they identify the Root cause before the 5 whys and in some, it takes more than 5 whys.
  • Action time: After the analysis of the problem and its cause it’s action time. Make a list of corrective measures and assign those to each team member.
  • Monitor and coordinate the end result: By now, they curb the problem and they monitor the corrective measures and coordinate them among the team members.

 2. Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

     This six sigma tool helps create a visual display of all the steps and tasks involved in a process from start to finish. In a nutshell, VSM is the blueprint of a process from the beginning to the end. This tool helps in analyzing each step of the process. By this, we can establish a clear idea of value-adding steps and those which contribute to the waste. This in turn aids in improving the overall process. Value stream mapping also establishes any delay in any steps of the process so as to reduce the wait time.

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An example of VSM in streamlined manufacturing is as shown below:

There are two types of VSM -Current VSM and Future VSM. Current VSM focuses on the currently running process and future VSM on how the future process will look ideally.  Once you identify the delays and wastes in a process you can easily achieve operational excellence.

3. Kanban Board-Popular among the 12 powerful six sigma tools for streamlined manufacturing

“Kanban” in Japanese means “Visual Signal”. A Kanban Board has 5 main parts: Visual signals, Work-In-Progress limits, columns, Commitment point, Delivery point. The following image displays the 5 parts-

They use the Kanban boards as a visual tool to optimize the flow of work in a manufacturing process. The main elements are Lanes and Cards. Lanes depict the steps in a process and cards depict the work items moving through the process. Both physical and digital  Kanban boards are available. The main uses of the kanban board are to improve the focus of the workforce, which in turn boosts productivity with optimum workflow in the process. Most online Six Sigma courses regard this tool as one of the most used among the 12 powerful Six sigma tools for streamlined manufacturing.

4. Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA)

Failure Mode effect analysis is a power six sigma tool since this tool helps profoundly in alleviating a certain amount of risk involved in a process. They use FMEA to quantitate and identify the risks. This is a tabular list of potential failures in each step of the process. The rows are for each step in the process and columns for potential failures, effects, causes, and prevention. There will be a score for Frequency of failures, severity, and effectiveness of the control measures for each step/row. From these details, they create a Risk Priority Number (RPN). This helps in identifying and analyzing failures at each step and their impact.

An example of FMEA :

5. Pareto Chart

Pareto principle, the 80-20 rule states that 80% of the effects of a process come from 20% of causes. They use this principle in making Pareto Charts. Pareto Chart is an irreplaceable six sigma tool. It is a bar graph representation of the frequency and cost of a defect in a process. Its significance lies in the fact that the Pareto chart helps in prioritizing the problems or the defects. Problems, their causes, frequency of their occurrence are all incorporated in a single graph that’s the Pareto Chart. This all, in turn, increases the efficiency of a process, reduces defects, and escalates overall production.

Example of Pareto Chart

6. 5 S 

5 S stands for the Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain. This is a powerful six sigma tool for streamlined manufacturing, that brings discipline into the working area. By optimizing productivity and reducing wastage to a core minimum, this tool emphasizes in smooth like butter running of a manufacturing process.

  • Sort: Give a red tag to anything in exaggerated amount and remove it thus sorting the unwanted from the wanted.
  • Set in Order: Keep all the wanted items in the right place for retrieving easily as and when needed.
  • Shine: Maintain the new improvements by cleaning up the workplace.
  • Standardize: Standardize the new improvised work process and keep it on check regularly so as to bring sustenance to the working conditions.
  • Sustain: Implement this final step and make sure that the workplace and process don’t return to the old mannerisms.

 7. Time Value map

The time value map is a simple six sigma tool and can be related to packaging tracking in a courier service. This is a six sigma tool wherein it tracks any work item that they use in a process. After tracking, categorize the item as a Value-added item or a Waste/Defective/Delayed item. First, select the item and trace it. Then they categorize it as above. Next, they trace down through each activity it passes and calculates the time for each activity. With the information, you can construct a Time value map as shown below. This tool helps in analyzing various work items and their contribution to the process. Thus, they eliminate all the unwanted and waste workitems that delay the process and restore quality. 

8. Design of Experiments (DOE)

This is one among the 12 powerful six sigma tools for streamlined manufacturing, that co-relates the effects of input on the quality of the final product. Multiple variables, involved in a process change according to the inputs. This in turn affects the final product. Some variables even hide under the data and they analyze it properly. DOE fins these potential inputs that can change the final product. This helps the Team members of a process to curb the problem before it arises. The inputs that impact the most are the most relevant in DOE. The basic steps followed are:

  • Factors- Control the dependent or independent variable, identify it as a factor.
  • Level-Modify the factor to the level the needed.
  • Run – Run an experimental run at different levels.
  • Response- Analyze the result of the run.
  • Replication- Repeat the experimental runs to get the best result.

After the above procedure, the project team can better put the combination of variables to get the most favorable end product.

9. Work Cell

A Workcell is another important tool which means the arrangement of resources and processes to improve its quality and efficacy. This ensures an efficient and smooth workflow with the removal of waste at the same time. In streamlined manufacturing, Work cell plays an indisposable role as they divide each task into separate cells performing that specific task. In short, the work items move from one cell to another to become the end product. People, materials, and types of equipment are the three main elements of a Workcell.

Streamlined manufacturing design of the Workcells using the six sigma principles to make sure the manufacturing processes work without disruption, yet, avoiding wastage.

An Example of a Workcell layout is:

10. Run Charts

Run Charts is a six sigma tool that shows the data collected through a graphical representation. They use these tools during the Measure and Control Phases of a DMAIC project. It is also called a Trend chart or Time series Plot. Interpretation of data becomes very simple when put graphically. So, they use this Six Sigma tool to simplify the interpretation of Data. Moreover, they use no software for its construction and simple statistical knowledge would suffice.

The major components of a run chart are;

  • Time series- shows the time over which they collect data. plot it on the x-axis.
  • Output- usually plotted on the y-axis.
  • Data points- output values against the time values.
  • Median-line-line showing the average of all outputs.

An example of a run chart is 

11. Scatter diagram -easy six sigma tool for streamlined manufacturing

Yet another significant six sigma tool is the Scatter Diagram. It is a graph depicting the correlation between two variables of a process. There can be a positive, negative, or no correlation existing between the variables and this tool is extensively used in Six Sigma plans. They use this Six Sigma tool to interpret the Cause and effect between two sets of data collected. Different ways they use the data are

  • Discrete data-  to measure failure /passing of a process 
  • Continuous data- to measure data infinitely. Usually used in Scatter analysis.

They use a scatter diagram to analyze the root cause of a problem in a process from the Data collected. Once they detect the cause and effect, then they resolve the problem easily.

To learn more about Scatter Diagrams, You can take up a certificate six sigma course.

12. Fishbone Diagram-last but the most used among the 12 powerful six sigma tools for streamlined manufacturing

As the name suggests, this six sigma tool uses a fishbone-shaped diagram to analyze a problem. When a problem arises, the team members make a list of its potential causes. But, this is a complex list and one needs to break it down into fragments and analyze it in order to simplify. This six sigma tool is one of the most used and effective tools in problem analysis. It was first used by Ishikawa, a quality control statistician in Japan for shipbuilding. The streamlined manufacturing sector adopted the Fishbone diagram for its high caliber in problem-solving,

Steps to make Fishbone Diagram are

  • Write the problem statement ( problem to be rectified) at the center.
  • The branches are used to write the causes of the problem like measurement, people, methods, etc to name a few.
  • The team starts brainstorming as to why the problem occurred, what are the possible solutions and so on.
  •  As the diagram progresses, the causes become less on the thinner areas of the Fishbone Diagram.
  • Finally narrow down the causes of the problem to reach at the exact cause.

An example of a Fishbone Diagram is

Conclusion

 Innumerable six sigma tools are used in streamlined manufacturing to reduce wastage, rectify errors and defects, customer satisfaction, improve sales, and gain, etc. Professionals who have a good knowledge of how to use these tools precisely, use Six Sigma tools. To learn more about six Sigma tools, please search for the Top 10 six sigma Courses in India.

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2 Comments

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