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Real Benefits: Increased Output, Reduced Costs

By Joe Barckett

A manufacturing company found it necessary to increase plant capacity in one of their key divisions. In order to do this they had to increase throughput of the material prep operation by 1MM pounds / month without negatively impacting energy usage. Working with SAI Global, the manufacturing company formed a Six Sigma team that included operators and supervisors.

Using the Six Sigma DMAIC improvement process, the team accomplished the following:

  • The Define Phase outlined the scope of the project and the finance group projected a savings of more than $45,000 per month ($540,000 per year).

  • The Measure Phase identified the current baseline data, as well as identified a measurement system problem with one of the performance metrics. The measurement system was corrected and several quick wins were also identified to be implemented.

  • The Analyze Phase identified potential root causes utilizing the operator's knowledge and then validated those that were preventing the process from a higher output. Three validated root causes accounted for over 90% of the capacity problem. The improvement tools used included a simple Cause and Effect Diagram and several intermediate statistical tools, such as t-test and ANOVA.

  • In the Improve Phase, the team developed solutions for each validated root cause, ranked the solutions and presented them to management, along with data-based information on each solutions impact. Management then made the decision as to which of the solutions they wanted implemented. The team proceeded to implement the selected solutions, utilizing project management techniques.

  • Finally, in the Control Phase, the team developed a control plan to help the team and process owner hold the gains made. The plan used Statistical Process Control and auditing techniques to check a variety of indicators on an ongoing basis.


    The Results of Applying the Six Sigma DMAIC Process:

  • The team exceeded the pounds per month goal by more than 3% (150,000lbs/month).
  • They also reduced energy usage by more than 17%.
  • Total savings to the company were in excess of $500,000 per year.



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