Iscar Metals
Integrating Improvement Efforts

As companies are looking for the ways and means to improve their operations, some companies are trying to implement lean manufacturing processes.

As companies are looking for the ways and means to improve their operations, some companies are trying to implement lean manufacturing processes. Some other companies, perhaps inspired by the apparent successes achieved by GE in the Jack Welch era, have opted for Six Sigma. There is still a third option, which is to deploy both, or a combination of the two. Which is explained in Lean Six Sigma That Works: A Powerful Action Plan for Dramatically Improving Quality, Increasing Speed, and Reducing Waste by Bill Carreira and Bill Trudell (AMACOM; $21.95). Essentially, there are the proverbial horses for courses. “We believe that Kaizen events”—fundamental to the implementation of lean—“are best used to drive process improvements in smaller areas that are not all-encompassing” while “Six Sigma projects using the DMIAC process”—that’s Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control—“are well suited for improving quality by reducing defects, improving yield, or attacking situations in which decisions will be made by analyzing relatively significant amounts of data. . . . Problems that are broad-based across the organization are well suited for DMAIC.” So, in effect, one is local and the other is global. And as companies have found as regards products, it is good to be “glocal”—broad and yet focused. Consequently, understanding and, ideally, using the lean Six Sigma approach can be exceedingly beneficial. Local improvements aren’t enough, but without them, large-scale changes are not particularly sustainable.