Imagine you’re the general manager of a furniture manufacturer.

You’re facing excessive production lead time in the factory.

I’m sure you can guess the kinds of headaches this has led to delayed deliveries, unhappy customers, and upset management.

Your company is getting roasted on social media by your consumer base.

What are you going to do?

Before we dive into the team’s solution, let’s entertain a few alternative paths they could have taken.

Alternative Options

1. Increasing manpower

One could always throw more people at the problem, but this would escalate labor costs, and there’s no guarantee that it would lead to a proportional decrease in lead time.

2. Investing in automation

Implementing cutting-edge technology could speed up production, but it’s a costly choice that requires significant investment and may not always fit the specific needs of a factory’s processes.

3. Scaling back production

By producing fewer products, the factory could free up resources to focus on reducing lead time. But, this approach would likely result in decreased revenue and may not address the root cause of the problem.

But Why DMEDI?

The team adopted the DMEDI (Define, Measure, Explore, Develop, Implement) framework instead of the DMAIC framework. DMEDI was chosen because it focuses on creating a new, more efficient process rather than improving the existing one. Let’s dive into the 5 DMEDI phases to understand the steps taken to address the issue:

Define: The team began by defining the problem and determining the project scope. They utilized tools such as the voice of the customer (VOC) to understand customer needs and expectations and established key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success.

Measure: Next, the team gathered and analyzed data to understand the factors contributing to the increased lead time. They employed tools like SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, and Customers) to gain a high-level view of the process, Pareto charts to identify the most significant issues, and process maps to visualize the current state of operations.

Explore: In this phase, the team explored potential solutions to reduce lead time. They employed root cause analysis techniques, such as the 5 Whys, to identify underlying problems and brainstormed innovative approaches that could result in a more efficient process.

Develop: Based on their findings, the team developed a new process design. They considered various process alternatives and selected the most promising one. The team then used tools like control charts to ensure the new process would deliver the desired results while maintaining quality and cost-effectiveness.

Implement: The team implemented the new process and monitored its performance. They made adjustments as needed to ensure the new process was both effective and sustainable. The team also established a system of controls to maintain the improvements achieved in the lead time reduction.

Conclusion

This case study highlights the value of Six Sigma methodologies and the DMEDI framework in addressing complex process improvement challenges. By following the DMEDI phases and using the appropriate tools, the team in this furniture factory reduced their production lead time, resulting in more satisfied customers and better efficiency.

May this inspiring example encourage you to apply the principles of Six Sigma in your own work and strive for improvement.

If you want to see the full case study on Six Sigma D-MEDI, click here to read the full article.

I hope you find this case study as fascinating and inspiring as I did. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me. I’m always happy to chat.

Best regards, Ted Hessing

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