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Six Sigma 5V to increase plant efficiency All over the world, industries are feeling a double pinch from

m the economic downturn and increased energy prices. Now is the time to introduce cost-saving measures including increasing operational efficiency. To increase plant efficiency, organizations should focus both on broader as well as detailed factors. One way to manage the improvement process is by following the ! approach, which includes popular "ean #i$ #igma concepts. The !s %voice of the customer, value addition, value stream mapping, variation zero and visual management& start with a broader perspective and carry on with a narrower focus on continual improvement and better control measures.

1. Voice of Customer
!oice of customer %!O'& helps to determine the function-cost relationship of a product. (t also helps to better understand the need of the customer. !O' can be obtained through many sources, including)

#urveys Online feedbac* +uality function deployment %+,-& analysis .ut to improve plant efficiency, it is important for organizations to e$amine not only the voice of customer who is buying their product, but also the ne$t succeeding process or department. ,or e$ample) .y collecting !O', a company determined there was a demand for producing /0 mobile sets per month with certain specific features. This helped set the ta*t time at which the product should be manufactured at seconds for an assembly line. To meet this production rate the company too* the voice of all departments to see what would be needed to achieve this pace. Their concerns included the limitation of the machines, manpower re1uirements and proper resource planning. The company too* these issues into consideration, and incorporated feedbac* and suggestions from the wor*ers into their plan for achieving the production rate.

2. Value Addition
2ow do you define value3 The answer can differ from person to person. #ome common responses are)

!alue is a relative term !alue is not price or cost of the product !alue can be functional, social and aesthetic Numerically, value = function/cost.

To understand this concept, consider this e$ample) 'ompany A is in the mobile phone manufacturing business. The cost of a mobile phone is 4 0. The phones have features such as an ,5 radio, a flashlight and /0 hours of tal* time. To increase the phone6s value, the company has several options) /. 8. 7eep the same functions, but lower the phone6s cost Add more functions, such as .luetooth or a better overall appearance, but *eep the cost the same 9. Add more functions and lower the cost

#imilarly, value can also be increased in a plant. This can be done by first dividing the plant6s activities into value added %!A& and non value added %N!A& categories. !A activities are those for which customers are paying the company: all other activities are waste or N!A. ,or e$ample, fi$ing a table top with screws follows this process) /. 8. 9. <. . .ring the table top to the wor* area ;lace it on top of the table legs Ta*e the screw ,i$ it on screwdriver ,i$ the screw on table and drill it into the table is !A because that is when the actual wor* is

(n this process, only the Activity being done.

Therefore, to increase the efficiency of the plant, the percentage of N!A activities must be reduced, thus increasing the !A activity ratio. To decrease N!A activities, plant managers should loo* for the seven typical types of waste, which can be remembered with the acronym T(5 =OO-) /. 8. 9. <. . Transportation (nventory 5otion =aiting Overproduction

>. ?.

Overprocessing -efect

3. Value Stream Mapping

Value stream mapping is used to create a map of material and information flow in a product or process. 'reating the map involves two steps. (t starts with a current state map, which shows how the process is operating. Then, an organization plans for improvements using a future state map, which shows where the process is going and how it will get there. The value stream map can be used to streamline wor* processes, thereby cutting lead times, increasing efficiency and reducing operating costs. Case Study: 'onsider a process for an e-publishing company whose business is type-setting the articles for @ournals and research papers. The company started by mapping its present state value stream %,igure /&. Figure 1 'urrent #tate 5ap of Type-setting ;rocess

The map includes the various steps in the type-setting process and their cycle time, including time ta*en for transportation, storage or delays. ,or this process, the !A time is the time when actual *ey coding is done. The total process time was /0,/?0 seconds. .ecause the !A time was only 9,>00 seconds, the total N!A time was >, ?0 seconds. =hen mapping the future value stream, the company mar*ed the areas that were under consideration for improvement in orange. These steps were eventually eliminated because the activities, such as printing, are not re1uired %printing can be avoided because electronic copies can serve the same purpose&. Also, the

company divided *ey coding into two activities and developed a program to run an optical character reader. This new process %,igure 8& reduced cycle time and turnaround time. Figure 2 ,uture #tate 5ap of Type-setting ;rocess

!. Variation "ero
5anufacturing one defective product is e1ual to the loss of three defect-free products. -efects arise from various, source, including)

(ncoming material 1uality not meeting the specified standards 5achines wearing out !ariation in the s*ill levels of wor*ers These problems all cause variations in a process. !ariation can occur due to natural causes or assignable causes. #i$ #igma can help *eep these variations in chec* by continuously monitoring processes in control charts. Aecording and using wor* instructions and standard operating procedure manuals %including pictures& also can help reduce variation. ;o*a-yo*e or mista*e proofing systems can be applied as well to prevent defects from occuring. ,or e$ample) A machine used in an assembly line has a standard picture of the product. As soon as the product comes below the machine6s camera, the machine automatically compares the product picture with the standard picture. (f some abnormality is found, the machine will give an alarm and stop functioning.

5. Visual Management
The last B!C stands for visual management. !isual management means the entire production system is controlled visually. This concept includes implementing better house*eeping by following # %sort, shine, . Organizing a plant using #

helps provide a healthy wor* environment for operators and increases efficiency. An untidy environment degrades not only the 1uality of goods produced, but also the motivation level of the employees wor*ing there. ,or e$ample) One company uses a production monitoring software system that displays everywhere on the shop floor. This way, everyone wor*ing can get to *now the status of all the assembly lines. The software shows defect levels, as well as the targets managers wish to achieve and the actual production rates, so that operators are aware of when they are behind. +uality professionals can use the data to wor* toward solutions that will help decrease defects and delays in the future