Fifty-Fourth Meeting of the Advanced Manufacturing Forum

Fall 2003. Presentations from BAE Systems Controls, Six Sigma Academy, Magnavision, and Exide Technologies.

Innovation in Quality and Manufacturing Management: Lean Manufacturing

Lean Sigma: Blending Lean Manufacturing Principles With Six Sigma Tools

Todd Rash,
Operations Manager,
BAE Systems Controls

BAE Control Systems produces engine controls that are mounted on aircraft engines to monitor engine performance, control engine speed, and optimize fuel efficiency. The company's Lean Sigma Program blends lean manufacturing principles with Six Sigma quality tools. A key element of the program is the creation of "takt-time driven" product cells in which multi skilled workers build customized products in a low volume high mix environment. Since its inception four years ago, the program has produced impressive results, including 97% improvement in sales per employee, 90% reduction in customer lead-time, and 70% reduction in work-in process.

Six Sigma And Sigma Lean: Practical Applications

Karen D. Riding, Ph. D.,
Master Consultant
Six Sigma Academy

Instituting the Lean approach involves eliminating waste by applying a robust set of performance change tools to eliminate non-value added activities from processes. It is very effective for companies that experience over production, excess inventories, unproductive lead times, and unnecessary processing, movement and transportation. It is complementary and synergistic with the Six Sigma and DMAIC tools because Lean eliminates waste from the entire organization while Six Sigma optimizes an organization's core processes. Implementing Six Sigma to reduce process variation is beneficial; but implementing both Lean and Six Sigma is powerful. Lean focuses on speed while Six Sigma focuses on precision. Speed + precision = Sigma Lean, a new competitive advantage!

This presentation will focus on the advancement of Six Sigma and Sigma Lean in real world applications. Four case studies will be described where both Six Sigma and Sigma Lean helped to resolve customer concerns successfully. The presentation will demonstrate how the tools of Six Sigma and Sigma Lean can be effectively used to address real customer concerns to improve processes, increase business share and satisfy customer requirements.

Lean At Magnivision

John Griffith,
Production Manager and "Clearly Lean" Team Co-Leader
Magnivision, Inc.

Magnivision, an American Greeting Card Company, is located in Miramar, Florida. It is the world's largest manufacturer and distributor of non-prescription reading glasses, available through 15,000 retail outlets. A "Clearly Lean" team was formed to respond to problems with late and incomplete orders. This cross-functional team created a method change that led to a more efficient work flow, reduced manufacturing costs, simplified scheduling and improved customer service. Clearly Lean worked together to convert the assembly operation from a large batch order system to a continuous flow system, using many lean tools, such as kanban cards, "root causes" brainstorming, process flow charts, Kaizen Blitz, 7 wastes, 5S and more. This work resulted in improved customer satisfaction, better on-time delivery, more orders shipped complete, reduced inventory, and a happier place to work. More recently, lean techniques were used to convert the entire operation to make-to-order and completely eliminate finished goods inventory. They also were used to design a new facility into which Magnivision moved in 2000.

Exide's Lean Leadership Initiative

Bob Weiner,
Executive Vice President Quality and Excell
Exide Technologies

Exide Technologies, a battery manufacturer, was in serious financial trouble in 2001. The company's pushed-based batch manufacturing process was producing massive amounts of inventory and excessive material handling. Expenses were rising rapidly and competitive pressures were leading product prices lower. Exide responded to this crisis by creating EXCELL (Exide's Customer-focused Lean Leadership), a system that combines elements of the Toyota Production System and Six Sigma. EXCELL is a methodical approach to waste elimination with clear-cut goals that are achieved through mastery of five levels of certification over five years. Eighteen months after launch, Exide had trained over 1500 people at 62 locations in the key elements of the system with 350 full time people on Excell. Inventory levels dropped by 30%, cycle times dropped by more than 50%, and work-in-process inventory decreased by 45% with on time delivery at record levels. EXCELL has also led to improvements in the performance of Exide's supplier base and is also an integral part of the company's restructuring plan.

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