How Lean Six Sigma Principles Can Improve the Manufacturing Industry

In the mid 20th century, executives from Toyota visited a Ford manufacturing plant and were impressed by the efficiency of Ford’s famous production lines. Their visit was productive, with Toyota taking inspiration and introducing the first version of the Lean principles we know today. At the same time that Lean began to spread, Motorola was also working on their Six Sigma program which was designed to improve manufacturing quality.

Even now, Lean and Six Sigma represent two of the most important tools the manufacturing sector has ever seen. Offering significant savings and improvements to both product quality and customer satisfaction, Lean Six Sigma is now must-have training for all manufacturers. Lean Six Sigma teams help to cut expenses and improve products, leading to several major benefits for the manufacturing industry.

Greater Cost Efficiency

The greatest benefit and driving factor behind Lean and Six Sigma principles are the benefits they offer to the bottom line. Reducing organisational waste and improving production methods ultimately lead to better products and greater customer satisfaction while decreasing expenses. A survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit showed that 90% of manufacturing executives reported reduced costs as a result of their Lean Six Sigma programs. When combined, these programs produce a noticeable boost to profits.

For executives though, it is important not to focus too heavily on the cost savings. Putting too much emphasis on reducing expenses can often lead to unsustainable improvements. For example, as processes become more efficient, laying off staff may be a good way to save money, but the impact on employee morale could lead to a net loss for the company. Lean Six Sigma practitioners should always remain mindful of the long-term effects when implementing business improvements.

Inventory Reduction

Carrying inventory is a major expense for manufacturers. Storing sufficient materials and products to service forecasts takes up valuable warehouse space and capital. Lean principles teach businesses to drive production based on real customer orders, rather than predictions. That means less warehouse space needs to be set aside for products. Especially in cases where forecasts exceed the real-world demand, reducing inventory can free up significant resources for manufacturers. Once inventory is reduced, manufacturers can pivot their model and produce smaller batches. Not only does this lead to improvements in lead times, but it also aids with quality control and reduces the losses associated with damage while in storage.

Improve Product Quality

Where Lean teaches businesses to reduce their expenses, Six Sigma focuses on improving product quality by reducing manufacturing flaws. By analysing, improving and measuring manufacturing processes, Six Sigma practitioners can identify issues and implement plans that improve product consistency. This goes on to improve customer satisfaction, giving businesses the chance to increase their profits while also reducing expenses.

Shorter Production Times

Eliminating manufacturing waste also has the effect of reducing production times. This is central to Lean manufacturing. Because inventory is kept to a minimum, short production times are vital, but they allow manufacturers to begin production and deliver orders in far shorter timeframes. The result is greater cost efficiency and an improvement in customer satisfaction.

Flexibility to Respond to Changing Markets

Reduced overheads, shorter production times and greater profitability all lead to improvements in manufacturing flexibility. All markets shift, and manufacturers need to respond to those changes in real-time. Lean and Six Sigma principles work together to put businesses in a position where they can change what they are doing, take on new customers and respond immediately to changing demands. Rather than being left holding large amounts of unwanted inventory, a Lean manufacturer can be agile and deliver the results their customers want.

Improve Manufacturing Processes With Lean Six Sigma Training From Thornley Group!

Originally born in the manufacturing industry, the tools and teachings offered by Lean and Six Sigma are still relevant today. For businesses that want to streamline their processes, reduce expenses and improve product quality, Lean and Six Sigma go hand in hand. Thornley Group offers a variety of training programs designed to equip organisations with the tools they need to realise business improvements. Our courses are suitable for every level of your company, from the workshop to the boardroom, and we can tailor our content to suit your business. Speak to us today about our training and consulting services and how your team can become Lean Six Sigma certified.

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