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Some Lean Six Sigma Instruments – Outline and Measure

Some Lean Six Sigma tools – Define and Measure
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The cost, speed and quality leaps of Lean Six Sigma are obtained

through the application of appropriate tools. Following the DMAIC

improvement model of Lean Six Sigma, we will look at a number of

tools from each phase.

The Define Phase

Purpose of Define:

This phase of the Lean Six Sigma implementation identifies the

improvement opportunities and customer deliverables and defines a

scope. At the end of the define phase, we should have a project

charter, clearly identified stakeholders, a project team,

estimation of business implications, an evaluation of customer

requirements, a high level process map and project management and

communication plans.

tools for Define:

Stakeholder Analysis:

The various stakeholders (customers, shareholders, employees) are

listed and the potential impact of the improvement project on each assessed as substantial, average, low or nil.

SIPOC diagram:

Of the tools applied in this stage of the improvement project,

perhaps the most commonly used is the SIPOC diagram. SIPOC stands

for Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs and Customers. The diagram

provides a visual answer to the questions required to understand

the process: who are the primary stakeholders of this process? What

value does it create? Who is the owner of the process? What are the

inputs and who provides them? What resources are consumed by the

process? What process steps create the value?

The steps involved in creating the SIPOC diagram and the

involvement of team members in brain storming and idea generating

sessions are as important as the resulting diagram.

VOC – Voice of the Customer:

Critical to a proper definition of the improvement project is the

availability of data representing customer viewpoints and

requirements. These are collected using VOC tools like interviews,

surveys, focus groups, comment cards, suggestion/complaint boxes

etc. The definition of customer here includes internal and external

customers.

Using Kano analysis coverts raw quantitative and qualitative data

obtained from the above into clearer expressions of the value

customers place on various product and service features you offer.

Development of critical-to-quality requirements converts customer

statements, which may be imprecise, to precise requirements (valued

from the customer’s perspective) for your product or service.

The Measure Phase

Purpose of Measure:

This phase quantifies the current state of the process with respect

to cost, speed and quality and provides an idea of the gaps to be

filled. At the end of this phase, we have a detailed map of the

process, data on key input and output variables, an analysis of the

capability of the process, refined project charter and plans where

warranted by new information, and recommended actions to pick low

hanging fruits.

tools for Measure:

Operational definition – various measures are defined so that all

team members apply the same definitions when gathering data for the

improvement project.

Process map, value stream map, complexity value stream map:

This produces a more detailed representation of the process than

the SIPOC diagram and includes such information as wait times,

processing times, resource

consumptions, process operator etc.

Cause Effect Matrix:

This tabulates causes against effects and calculates scores which

are used to rank the causes. As a measure

tool, this matrix is used to select which inputs to focus on

because of their significant impact on the process outputs.

Preliminary FMEA (failure modes and effects analysis):

This tool has a similar function to the cause and effect matrix.

All possible failures in the inputs are considered, and then

weighted according

to probability of occurrence, severity of impact on outputs and

difficulty of detection. This assessment also helps to determine

what inputs the project team should focus on.

Data collection plan:

This includes decisions as to what data (balanced between input and

output) to collect, identification of

stratification factors (these help determine patterns in the data),

determination of sample size, identification of data sources,

development of data collection sheets and assignment of data

collection duties among team members.

Pareto charts:

This is one more tool for focusing the team’s efforts on the most

important problems. A Pareto chart is a bar

chart where the horizontal axis represents categories. On the

vertical axis we can plot in descending order, the frequency of

occurrence, or cost, speed or quality impact of each category.

Where a clear Pareto effect exists, only a few of the categories

(typically 20% or less) are responsible for majority of the effects

(80% or more).

Measurement systems analysis:

The process of obtaining measurements is subjected to standard analyses to ensure reliability, repeatability and reproducibility. Other attributes of

the measurement system are stability, bias and discrimination.

Control charts:

A control chart is a run chart sequence of quantitative data with

three horizontal lines showing a centred mean and upper and lower

control limits. Control charts help to assess the nature of

variation of the process. In-control processes are expected to

yield data points randomly distributed around the mean but within

the calculated control limits.

Process capability assessment:

This tool measures of process capability assess the ability of a

process to meet functional requirements.

Several measures of capability exist. All of them are compare the

process standard deviation to the allowable range of variation as

specified by the customer.

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