Stephen Gould uses a combination of Lean and Six Sigma management techniques in our production facilities to create greater efficiencies and continuously improve manufacturing processes. Discover the difference between Lean and Six Sigma.
There is an ongoing debate about whether Lean or Six Sigma is the better school of thought for improving manufacturing efficiency and eliminating waste. Both methodologies have their proponents and detractors that can influence whether a company chooses one system over the other.
Others argue that the two methodologies can actually be more powerful when used together, and thus the best approach is to implement what is often called the Lean Six Sigma principle.
Deciding on the right approach for your business requires context. That’s why we’ve created this guide to understanding how Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma overlap and differ from each other.
What is Lean Manufacturing?
Lean Manufacturing is used by businesses to streamline manufacturing and production processes. The main goal of Lean is to cut out any unnecessary and wasteful steps in the creation of products. Only steps that directly add value to the product are taken.
Lean manufacturing is not a new process. The ideas behind Lean were originally introduced by Henry Ford. Ford liked to keep the production standards high to keep each step flowing naturally into the next. Toyota followed in Ford’s footsteps to create the Toyota Production System, which quickly became one of the most efficient manufacturing systems in the world. The philosophy behind Lean is a direct descendant of this lineage.
One of the main differences between Lean and Six Sigma is that they view the cause of waste differently. Lean manufacturing seeks to reduce waste through the elimination of bottlenecks, allowing production to flow smoothly.
Lean defines waste as any type of inefficiency that adds no value for the consumer. Removing waste from the manufacturing process boosts a facility’s productivity and the return on investment for the firm.
In Lean terminology, there are “seven deadly wastes” that businesses should seek to eliminate.
The most obvious form of waste. When products are produced without adequate consumer demand for them, it creates a number of negative outcomes, including wasted raw materials, inefficient use of storage, environmental effects of disposal, and unnecessarily tying up capital in unsold goods.
Untouched and waiting to be used has a number of negative outcomes. Capital that could be allocated elsewhere is unnecessarily tied up in excess stock. There are also additional costs for storage, transportation, and in the case of perishable goods, energy required to heat or refrigerate inventory.
Waste employee time by requiring them to identify, track, dispose of, and reproduce defective products. Defects also impact customer satisfaction and their perception of a brand.
Refers to the movements workers make during production. Eliminating unnecessary motions and steps allow workers to maximize their time and energy, which increases productivity.
When too much production time is spent engineering and refining the product, to the extent that it delivers more value than the customer actually needs.
When production lags in between steps, wasting workers’ time, incurring excessive labor costs, and in some cases, risking product spoilage.
Should also be minimized as much as possible since it does not add any value to the end customer. Firms can avoid inefficient transportation by using plants located closer together and working to reduce other transport costs.