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Lean Six Sigma

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        Nowadays, industries’ competition has become more difficult and demanding due to changes in the market, external effects, new company’s competitive advantages, substitute products, etc. That’s why it is of immense consideration to always perform better than the other enterprise. To reach that, small-and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises apply different competing business process as improvement methodologies in order to improve the efficacy of their operational, financial and strategic performance. One of these famous improvement methodologies is Lean Six Sigma (LSS).

        In this report, the objective is to make a review and analysis of the “Lean Six Sigma for small-and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises: a systematic review” by Paul Alexander, Jiju Antony and Bryan Rodgers, 2018. The purpose of this article is to explore the most common themes within Lean Six Sigma related to small-and medium-sized enterprises within manufacturing organizations and to identify the research gaps in the existing literature. Along this report, we will present article’s methodology, results and conclusion.

        To explain the LSS nature, it is known as the fusion of two most powerful process excellence methodologies, namely, Lean and Six Sigma. The Lean methodology was derived from the Toyota Production System in 1940s, which “focuses on delivering the highest-quality product at the lowest cost and on time” (Liker,Wu, 2000). It involves a reconceptualization of the entire production process from which buffers are removed (Alexander, Antony & Rogers, 2018). All the different activities that are part of the production process must be carefully coordinated to maximize the benefits of lean.

        In order to remove the buffers of the production process, “lean methodology allocates the activities into two main categories: value add (VA) activities and nonvalue add (NVA) activities” (Alexander, Antony & Rogers, 2018). VA activities are all activities that the customer would be willing to pay for, as activities that transform the product from its initial form to the final product or service that is delivered to the customer. NVA activities are activities that should be considered as waste and must be taken out of the process. Lean is primarily focused on reducing cycle time to bring a reduction in lead time to the customer.

        Moving to the next methodology, “Six Sigma is a methodology developed by Bill Smith in the mid-1980s, a Reliability Engineer working for Motorola. Although the methodology was created in the mid-1980s, Six Sigma became popularised in 1995 by General Electric’s CEO Jack Welch” (Alexander, Antony & Rogers, 2018)

        According to General Electric Company, Six Sigma is a highly disciplined process that helps us focus on developing and delivering near-perfect products and services. In addition, the company explains why it is called Sigma. The word is a statistical term that measures how far a given process deviates from perfection. The central idea behind Six Sigma is that if you can measure how many “defects” you have in a process, in order to eliminate them and get as close to “zero defects” as possible.

        The methodology of Six Sigma is very structured and utilizes a five-stage framework to improve the process known as DMAIC: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control.

        According to Alexander, Antony & Rogers (2018) the two philosophies may primarily approach improvements in a different way and use a different mindset, however, they both have the common objective of providing process performance optimisation, value enhancement and increased customer satisfaction.

        Applying Lean in isolation cannot statistically monitor the amount of defects to achieve stability and applying Six Sigma in isolation cannot eliminate all streams of waste from a business. The LSS approach uses the DMAIC framework combining the tools of Lean and Six Sigma for problem-solving scenarios.



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