The manufacturing industry is constantly evolving to stay competitive. With changing regulations and increased costs, manufacturing companies have had to put a significant emphasis on creating well organized, more efficient manufacturing processes. One major change is the transition from mass production to lean manufacturing, and Six Sigma.
Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma share similar goals: to improve productivity while minimizing waste. There are many similarities between these two concepts, but you should also know the key differences before integrating them into your company’s strategy for improvement.
What is Lean Manufacturing?
Lean manufacturing focuses on reducing waste, increasing customer satisfaction, and improving process quality while keeping costs low. This is accomplished through the “lean” principle of eliminating any excess steps that don’t work to create value for customers.
The primary goal of lean manufacturing is to create the highest possible level of output, without sacrificing product quality.
What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma’s main objective is to consistently increase the quality of products. Six Sigma focuses on minimizing product defects, thereby increasing productivity and profitability. Six Sigma is a data-driven approach to manufacturing.
Companies collect information on their production lines and use it as feedback to improve efficiency by minimizing defects or errors. The Six Sigma mindset relies heavily on numbers. It uses statistical analysis and systems with specific metrics to reach its goals.
What are the Differences Between Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma?
Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma share many commonalities, and the methods often overlap. However, there are certain elements that differentiate the two techniques.The most basic difference between lean manufacturing and Six Sigma is how much emphasis each puts on cost reduction versus process improvement.
Lean manufacturing concentrates its efforts on eliminating waste through continuous improvements made at every level of the organization. Six Sigma seeks mainly to reduce defect rates to improve product quality.
How to Best Achieve Lean Manufacturing Goals?
Once you decide that you want to focus on either lean or six sigma manufacturing, the next step is figuring out how to get there. One of the best ways to do this is to implement a manufacturing execution system. A manufacturing execution system is a technology that assists in manufacturing, tracking, and shipping goods.
A manufacturing execution system can help you track inventories, order supplies or raw materials before they’re needed, and ensure they are delivered to your company on time. These platforms also help with production schedules and work orders.
VersaCall is an MES provider that offers robust Andon systems which allow for a seamless transition into lean manufacturing by using visual cues from all areas on the factory floor through unique Andon technology. The benefits are twofold; less waste is created due to better processes, and quality is improved through lower defect rates.
If you are looking for ways to increase productivity in your manufacturing processes, consider incorporating either lean manufacturing or Six Sigma principles. Although they have core differences, both focus on improving productivity and minimizing waste.
Be sure to do thorough research before converting to either approach. If you are looking for help in streamlining this part of your business, consider purchasing a manufacturing execution system. An MES can support lean manufacturing, and Six Sigma processes by simplifying implementation and increasing milestone achievement.