Seamless Integration of Lean Enterprise And Six Sigma

by James Illing, Director Lean Enterprise
Rockwell Automation Power Systems

Rockwell Automation Power Systems chose the name POWER LEAN for their Lean Enterprise implementation effort because the business philosophy of Lean Enterprise has been "super-charged" with the tools and methodologies of Six Sigma. The objective of Power Lean is to enable growth of the business by using the tools and methodologies of Lean and Six Sigma to reduce lead times, reduce cost, improve quality and improve delivery performance. Power Lean combines the structured training and certification approach of Six Sigma Black Belts with the hard-hitting, bias for action approach of Kaizen Teams. Power Lean is a holistic approach in which the efforts of Strategic Sourcing, Lean Manufacturing, Design, e-Commerce and Total Quality are well coordinated and properly linked to our stakeholders and financial metrics. Quantitative 3-year goals were established for Power Lean, which are focused on Quality, Cost and Delivery performance. These key elements of business performance are critical factors in satisfying existing customers and winning new business. They are also the metrics most impacted by the tools and methodologies of Lean and Six Sigma.

Lean Enterprise is centered on the concept of flow. Once value has been clearly and accurately defined, value stream mapping, pull production systems and continuous improvement systems are all designed to enable and maintain flow. One of the major inhibitors to flow in a production environment or business process is variation and defects. Although the philosophy of Lean Enterprise recognizes this critical element, reduction of variation and defect elimination can be greatly enhanced by the adoption of Six Sigma tools and methodologies. It is for this reason that Lean Enterprise and Six Sigma make for an ideal merger. The benefits of Six Sigma cannot be fully realized in an organization that is not lean and a process cannot flow when there is excessive variation and defects.

A comprehensive implementation strategy was developed for Power Lean. The implementation strategy includes a vision, clearly defined business objectives, a communication strategy, and a structured training program. Two specific types of assessment methodologies are utilized to document current state conditions and identify major opportunities for improvement. These are the Power Lean Business Assessment and the Value Stream Map. The Power Lean Business Assessment is a broad-based maturity path based upon the ten keys of Power Lean. The purpose of this assessment is to determine current strengths and weaknesses of a sub-section of the business, e.g., a manufacturing location, relative to the success factors required for Lean Enterprise. The ten key factors include (1) Workforce Skill, (2) Leadership Knowledge and Attitudes, (3) "Five S" Workplace Organization, (4) Visual Control, (5) Total Productive Maintenance, (6) Set-up Times, (7) Standard Work, (8) Inventory, (9) Quality, and (10) Material Management. Each of the 10 keys are evaluated on a scale from 1 to 5 and plotted on a radar chart. An action plan is developed to address the largest opportunities as identified by the radar chart.

The other tool used in Power Lean to document current state and expose waste is the Value Stream Map. This tool is applied in accordance with the structure and methodology proposed by Mike Rother and John Shook in Learning to See (The Lean Enterprise Institute, 1998). The Value Stream Map is a critical starting point for a Power Lean project and is applied to a product family or specific business process. Future-state value stream maps are developed to show how the product or process might flow in a lean environment and improvement actions are identified that are necessary to transform the current state to the future state. These improvement actions are documented as either "kaizen events" or capital/tooling requirements.

The Business Assessment and the Value Stream Map document reality, expose waste and present opportunities for improving business performance. The tactical approach for attacking this opportunity in Power Lean is centered on the concept of Kaizen Events. Production locations in Power Systems refer to Kaizen Events as "Pit Stops" because of the short duration, intensity and teamwork required and because the business is very involved and supportive of NASCAR racing. During the Pit Stops, employees are dedicated to a specific objective full time for 3 to 5 days and are provided with all of the support and resources required to successfully achieve the stated objectives. Pit Stops are very empowering by design and in every case, the results are impressive and the team members are very enthusiastic about their accomplishments.

Power Lean teaches five different types of kaizen events for tactical implementation of Lean in Production Systems. These are (1) 5S, (2) Set-Up Reduction (3) Variability Reduction, (4) Flow, and (5) Total Productive Maintenance. There is also a special format for Business Process Kaizen. Each type of Kaizen Event has a specific objective and "roadmap" for execution. A series of Kaizen Events is carefully planned and sequenced to achieve the objectives of a Power Lean Project. Although there are real and significant results at each Kaizen Event, it is at the project level where flow begins to happen and "bottom-line" business results can be mapped to the financial statements. A Master Plan for each section of the business is used to identify the series of projects required to positively impact the entire location or function from a lean perspective and the timing and expected benefits of these projects.

The primary leaders and change agents for Power Lean are the Power Lean Masters. Employees are selected to enter the Power Lean training and certification program based upon a predetermined set of attributes, including bias for action, proven track record, strong technical skills, commitment to the business, and innovation. Power Lean Master Candidates are chosen from Operations and from the functional support areas. These employees are provided with an intense, structured training program that includes five sessions of training. The training sessions are one week each and are conducted over a 4-month period of time. The five sessions are each held at a different manufacturing location within Power Systems. This promotes sharing of best practices, commonality of approach and provides a support structure for the Power Lean Master Candidates. Each of the five training sessions includes two-days of classroom training on the tools and methodologies of Lean and Six Sigma followed by 3-day kaizen events where the tools are applied to real business opportunities at the host plant. Members of the core implementation team are available to provide guidance and answer questions during the 3-day training kaizen events. The kaizen events start with a focus on value stream mapping and 5S. They then progress into setup reduction, variability reduction and flow. Towards the end of the formal training program, the kaizen event focus shifts to process control and total productive maintenance. Process Control, TPM and Standard Work ensure that gains from Power Lean Projects are sustained.

Power Lean Master responsibility is an 18-month, full time commitment in Power Systems. To obtain certification as a Power Lean Master, a candidate must successfully complete the 5 sessions of training and obtain significant, measurable business results on their Power Lean Certification project. Certification must be accomplished within 12 months of the first week of training. After certification, the Power Lean Master continues to lead implementation of Power Lean for their respective locations. Many of the production locations are establishing Power Lean promotion offices using resources made available from the kaizen events. Service and support functions are utilizing Power Lean Masters and Business Process Kaizen to eliminate cost, non-value added activity, cycle time and all other forms of waste from the business processes.