OPE-Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma is a managerial concept combining Lean and Six Sigma that results in the elimination of the eight kinds of wastes / muda(classified as Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Non-Utilized Talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Extra-Processing) and an improved capability of performance. The term Six Sigma is statistically based on the provision of goods and service at a rate of 3.4 defects per millions opportunities (DPMO). A mnemonic for the wastes is "DOWNTIME."[1]

The Lean Six Sigma concepts were first published in the book titled Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma with Lean Speed by Michael George and Peter Vincent in 2002. Lean Six Sigma utilises the DMAIC phases similar to that of Six Sigma. The Lean Six Sigma projects comprise the Lean's waste elimination projects and the Six Sigma projects based on the critical to quality characteristics. The DMAIC toolkit of Lean Six Sigma comprises all the Lean and Six Sigma tools. The training for Lean Six Sigma is provided through the belt based training system similar to that of Six Sigma. The belt personnel are designated as white belts, yellow belts, green belts, black belts and master black belts, similar to karate.

For each of these belt levels skill sets are available that describe which of the overall Lean Six Sigma tools are expected to be part at a certain Belt level. These skill sets provide a detailed description of the learning elements that a participant will have acquired after completing a training program. The level upon which these learning elements may be applied is also described. The skill sets reflects elements from Six Sigma, Lean and other process improvement methods like TOC (Theory of Constraints) and TPM (Total Productive Maintenance).

It seems very important to take into account in Lean Six Sigma projects also about automation. A rule of thumb coming from many years of application at GE is that the benefits of a Lean Sigma project come roughly 50% from organizational and layout modifications and 50% from digitization.

 Lean manufacturinglean enterprise, or lean production, often simply, "lean", is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. Working from the perspective of the customer who consumes a product or service, "value" is defined as any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for.

Essentially, lean is centered on preserving value with less work. Lean manufacturing is a management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS) (hence the term Toyotism is also prevalent) and identified as "lean" only in the 1990s.[1][2] TPS is renowned for its focus on reduction of the original Toyota seven wastes to improve overall customer value, but there are varying perspectives on how this is best achieved. The steady growth of Toyota, from a small company to the world's largest automaker,[3] has focused attention on how it has achieved this success.

 Six Sigma is a set of techniques and tools for process improvement. It was developed by Motorola in 1986,[1][2] coinciding with the Japanese asset price bubble which is reflected in its terminology. Six Sigma became famous when Jack Welch made it central to his successful business strategy at General Electric in 1995.[3] Today, it is used in many industrial sectors.[4]

Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability inmanufacturing and business processes. It uses a set of quality management methods, including statistical methods, and creates a special infrastructure of people within the organization ("Champions", "Black Belts", "Green Belts", "Yellow Belts", etc.) who are experts in the methods. Each Six Sigma project carried out within an organization follows a defined sequence of steps and has quantified value targets, for example: reduce process cycle time, reduce pollution, reduce costs, increase customer satisfaction, and increase profits. These are also core to principles of Total Quality Management (TQM) as described by Peter Drucker and Tom Peters (particularly in his book "The Pursuit of Excellence" in which he refers the Motorola six sigma principles).

The term Six Sigma originated from terminology associated with manufacturing, specifically terms associated with statistical modeling of manufacturing processes. The maturity of a manufacturing process can be described by a sigma rating indicating its yield or the percentage of defect-free products it creates. A six sigma process is one in which 99.99966% of the products manufactured are statistically expected to be free of defects (3.4 defective parts/million), although, as discussed below, this defect level corresponds to only a 4.5 sigma level. Motorola set a goal of "six sigma" for all of its manufacturing operations, and this goal became a by-word for the management and engineering practices used to achieve it.


Lean Sigma improves plant perfomance: 

A food company was suffering from slow growth and diminished market share. To remain competitive, it needed to improve its manufacturing facilities to reduce cost and increase capacity. It also need to invest in innovation to remain competitive. ProengSELAMINA incorporated Lean Six Sigma principles to improve the company’s plant performance, which yielded 15 percent cost savings and increased flexibility.


 OPPORTUNITY:  losing market share to strong competitors and suffering from slowing growth in primary channels. To remain competitive, the client had to:

  • Improve manufacturing facilities to reduce cost and increase capacity, and
  • Invest in innovations needed for growth and competitiveness

The client asked ProengSELAMINA to address the following key questions: 

  • Can capacity be increased in existing plants? How much, and where?
  • Can cost per ton be reduced on existing lines?
  • Can enough cash be freed up from operations to fund investments in innovation?
Bain incorporated Six Sigma DMAIC methodology and Lean principles into a four-step approach to improve the plant performance.



 ProengSELAMINA identified 45 initiatives and prioritized them according to improvements to plant capacity and overall equipment effectiveness. Of these, ProengSELAMINA recommended six as the most critical initiatives.


 With ourtsupport team support,  company implemented the recommended initiatives, generating 15% cost savings and increased flexibility. The company also worked with ProengSELAMINA to put knowledge transfer programs in place so that the improvements would spread to additional plants in the system.