Six Sigma seeks to review the processes of an organization so that the defects and errors in the processes and output can be removed and variability in the business processes can be minimized. It uses a set of tools and strategies for quality management purposes. Lean six sigma is quite helpful in the supply chain as it reduces the variability in the processes and increases efficiency. When order fulfilment is done by using sig sigma, it helps to identify the spots of defect and variance. One identified, inefficiencies can be addressed by minimising paperwork, automatic shipping and picking and automatic verification of the shipment. DMAIC cycle in six sigma is helpful to improve the order fulfilment process (Salah and Rahim 2019). It helps to reduce supply chain errors to zero. Poke-Yoke is the lean technique which helps to improve many points in the supply chain. It is a procedure of mistake-proofing which is helpful to eliminate or reduce human errors by forcing them to complete the task perfectly.
The two benefits of creating and using a Quality Function Deployment (QFD) are as follows:
Customer-driven process- QFD provides the advantage of a customer drive process and not the technology-driven process. Only technological innovations for new product development is not always necessary for the customers' satisfaction. Sometimes, the needs of the customers are different which is taken care of by QFD. It determines the exact needs of the customers and how to add those needs in the new product development process thus, gives a competitive edge to the organization.
Significant planning tool- QFD acts as a significant planning tool before designing and introducing new products. An engineering team looks backward before it starts working forward because product requirements are already available. These requirements are then considered to incorporate in the technical design (Wolniak 2018). This way QFD is helpful in product planning. Further, in process planning, the processes that are required to meet the needs are identified. The next step is production planning in which process control and maintenance is done.
The process of creation of the QFD matrix and description of its different components:
It is a four-phased process that deploys various activities throughout the product development cycle. The first matrix in the QFD is used to translate the needs and wants of the customers into product or service design with the help of the relationship matrix. The different sections of this phase include Whats, hows or ceiling, body or main room, roof, competitor comparison, relative importance and lower level foundation. The second phase is related to design development in which the tools, systems, sub-systems and components are defined. It acts as a direct input for Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (DFMEA). Level 2 QFDs can be developed at various levels including system, sub-system and component level (Barad 2018). The third phase is related to process specification in which correlation is established between component or part specifications and process or process steps. The fourth level is used as a quality check and lists the critical processes and process dimensions in the Whats column and then Hows components are determined for quality assurance.
The steps for benchmarking are as follows:
Selection of the processes and building support
To determine the current performance of the process or organization or system
To set the standard or determine the expectations
To identify the gap in the performance
To design an action plan to address the performance gap
To take measures for continuous improvements (Kailash et al. 2018).
Six Sigma tools:
Affinity diagram: Affinity diagram is one of the seven tools of management and planning which is used to organize data and ideas in the business.
Kano model: Kano model is a theory which is used in the domain of customer satisfaction and product development. It is helpful to categorise customer preferences once the voice of customers phase is over. Therefore, the significance of the model can be understood in terms of including those features in a product or service that will enhance customer satisfaction.
Pareto analysis: It is a statistical technique used for the purpose of decision making so that a handful of tasks which produces overall significant impact can be selected (Uluskan 2016).
Brainstorming: It is a creative process of generating a list of random ideas by a number of people for getting the maximum possible solution to any problem.
Fishbone analysis: This is an analysis tool in diagram form which is one of the seven basic quality tools used to recognize the probable reasons for any issue.
Process flow charts: This diagram is commonly used in chemical and process engineering to understand the flow of processes in the plant and equipment.
Failure mode analysis: It is used for the identification of failure causes and their effects in any system, sub-system, assemblies and components (Uluskan 2016).
Design of experiment: It is the design of any task for the purpose to identify variation in the information under hypothetical conditions so that reflection of the variation can be described and analysed.
The final stage control which is overlooked is an important step that gives meaning to the entire process as it controls the deviations in the processes and systems. Both present and future processes and sub-processes are improved by incorporating this stage. It includes quality control plan which is used to document the needs for keeping the current improved level at the same. Further, statistical process control is important to monitor the behavior and keep at the expected level (Kowalik 2019). Moreover, mistake proofing makes errors impossible or detect on an immediate basis.
Lean thinking to generate process improvement: Lean approach is based on the principle to minimize waste generation and thus, improves the process in place. The idea of using this process is to meet customer expectations by developing a near to perfect process. With the help of as few as possible resources and eliminating waste, processes can be improved.
Advantages of integrating lean with Six sigma: The fundamental concept of using six sigma is to improve the processes continuously and retain the same. Whereas, lean is based on the ideology to reduce waste as much as possible and make the processes efficient (Garay-Ronderoet al. 2019). Thus, when both these concepts are combined, they provide the basis of improved and sustainable growth.
As per the concept of value stream process map, waste can be considered as anything that has no value for the customers. This process is helpful to identify the types of wastes which are common and are also known as seven fatal wastes. These include waiting, extra processing, overproduction, inventory, waiting, motion and defects. It is inexpensive support and fairly easy to incorporate in the organization. It aligns cross-functional teams and brings process improvement to the forefront. As it is a visual representation of material and information flow within the organization, it is easy to identify, showcase and reduce the waste (Lee and Snyder 2017). Further, an effective flow is created that helps to augment the way value is delivered to the client.
Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) is an approach for new product and process development that incorporates various methodologies. It’s most common use is in the complete re-design of any process or product and this it differs to the traditional six sigma process which is used for improvements in the current processes and systems. The steps under this approach vary as per the requirements of different organizations and businesses. The team should be cross-functional so that every aspect can be considered which will be helpful to eliminate or minimize errors at the root level. It is a proactive design tool which uses quantifiable data verified design tools. DFSS is beneficial in supply chain design and management because it's flexible and can be modified as and when the requirement arises. It is an adaptable methodology to ensure monitoring and controlling performance for a complex and variable environment of the supply chain (Nurcahyanie et al. 2020). DFSS has proved to be quite helpful in information sharing and management throughout the supply chain. It effectively communicates information within different layers of the supply chain regarding the movement of material. Thus, results in improved information sharing, decision making and communication throughout the process.
It involves several steps to redesign a supply chain process by using DFSS. First of all the need for a product or service is defined and then comes the identification stage which is the first stage in the process. It identifies what are the exact requirements of the customers and how they can be translated into product or service specification. It involves the identification of the voice of the customers and then transforming it to critical customer requirements by using quality function deployment. Once the requirements are identified and gaps are identified, the supply chain development team proposes and evaluates the conceptual solutions for the same. It includes some activities named functional system design, devising and verifying measurement methods or metrics, evaluation of the concept or trade-off, narrowing down the conceptual solutions to a few and then transfer the functions. The third stage is optimization which focuses on optimizing the supply chain design as per the changing environmental variables (Mitchell and Kovach 2016). The last stage is validation which ensures that the process is complete, valid and ready to meet the stated requirements in practice.
There various key factors for applying an effective six sigma program for supply chain management which are as follow-
Effective management - Great support from effective management is very important in the reformation of the organization and accomplishing the cultural change as well as the motivation of employees in the context of value and six sigma approach into the business. Therefore, leaders should have strong believer of six sigma.
Organizational infrastructure- Strong organizational infrastructure is also required to support six sigma undertaking. It has been determined that a great deal is done by teams as every team member plays various roles and held positions under the belt systems (Marzagão and Carvalho 2016). Furthermore, the time and willingness of the company is also very significant because the beginning of six sigma in the organization needs plenty of resources, time, investment, and obligation of leadership.
Culture change- For effective implementation of six sigma, it needs alteration to the culture of the organization and variation in the attitude of employees. Within organization, employees need to be motivated towards the implementation and expansion of the six sigma program and it can be done through different rewards and recognition programs. In addition to this, various successful companies in the six sigma having key factor that is communicating over the eagerness of six sigma which has the direct participation of their top leaders and managers.
Training- Training is a significant element in the effective implementation and growth of the six sigma program. It is very crucial to commune both why and how of six sigma at an early stage in the organization in order to offer a chance to people to enhance their comfort level from training classes. In the context of training, there is a hierarchy of expertise which is determined by the belt system. Moreover, investment in training is an important factor to provide knowledge to employees about six-sigma (Marzagão and Carvalho 2016).
In addition to this, some obstacles and challenges are faced by six sigma methods which are as follow-
Low information- Some employees do not have detailed knowledge about the six- sigma methodology.
Resistance to change- In the organization, there are various employees and managers who are resistant to change and consider that they will lose jobs if six sigma is implemented (Timans et al. 2016).
Incorrect scope- The scope of the project is significant which explains set parameters for what the project will encompass. Office politics and lack of unclouded vision through the management can create constrain in a project.
DMAIC stand for define measure analyse improve control, it is one of the applications or methods for seamless absorption of the six-sigma method to logistics. It helps to enhance the entire internal logistical process and ensure the reduction of defects. In addition to this, the project is specified through using the tools; S-C-P model, and SWOT analysis. The objective of this addition process is to select a project that best uses the resources and time which is available to the organization. S-C-P tool is used in a top-down approach for identifying whether a project will be successful or not (Sharma et al. 2018). It measures the economic value and also measures the ability to exploit maximum value. In the context of six sigma, DMAIC is followed in order to improve quality and reduce the problem. It comprises five phases; define, measure, analysis, improve, and control. This application offers one specific advantage that it is analyze a procedure before applying and trying any enhancements as well as it offers an organization with a road map for solutions. On the other hand, it also comprises of one weakness that it lacks the cyclical nature which leads toward a common view of enhancement as one-off projects.
SCOR stands for the supply chain operations reference model which is a organizational tool and employed to check, enhance, and commune supply chain management decisions within an company as well as with customers and suppliers of the organization. This model explains the business procedures that need to gratify a customer's demands. It also describes the procedures along with the complete supply chain and offers groundwork for how to improve those procedures (Akkucuk2016). The SCOR model includes the business idea of procedure re-engineering, dimension, benchmarking into its outline. This agenda highlights five areas of the supply chain; plan, make, source, return and deliver.
Following are strengths and weakness of the SCOR model-
Determine facilitate IT abilities to use the supply chain.
Industry and competitive benchmark data sources
This process helps organizations to analyze their supply chain as well as offer the idea to the organizations in order to advance their supply chains.
This model permits full leverage of fund investments, the configuration of a supply chain road map, and the arrangement of business functions (Neulicht2019).
Insufficient organization-wide training and growth
Insufficient tools, techniques, and methodologies to focus on executing projects determined by the SCOR efforts.
SCOR model is a brand of the supply chain council and includes various hierarchal levels. It involves the estimation of tactical goals and aims in the area of viable supply chain investigation. The benefit of the SCOR model indicates that it can be modified to fit the particular supply chain of almost any company. On the other hand, six sigma processes can be used to understand customer and process data to determine repeatable patterns related to the root causes of poor operational performance. (Divsalar, Ahmadi and Nemati, 2020). In addition to this, lean six-sigma is used in relation to the SCOR model that involves ordering materials, choosing and managing items, claims and return systems, and so on. Moreover, lean six sigma projects are arranged to enhance customer service levels and decrease overdue backlogs. Moreover, it will be easier if the procedures were consistent upfront through utilizing SCOR principles, proceeding to the use of Lean Six Sigma projects that aim to determine and remove the root cause for process breakdowns. Applying Lean Six Sigma approach whenever there procedures stop working whose root cause investigation needs reductions in process variations.
Figure 1: SCOR Model's five process workflows
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