Lean Six Sigma Tools for Small Manufacturers

May 30, 2017 9:38 am
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posted within Continuous Improvement, General

Continuous Improvement Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma Tools for Small Manufacturers


Smaller sized manufacturing companies need to increase the bottom line, reduce costs, and be more efficient with the resources that they have, sometimes even more than larger companies do.  Which leads to the question…why do some small companies think that they cannot take advantage of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) tools?

Utilizing both the lean management and Six Sigma principles can be an immense help to smaller manufacturers. The lean management piece can help to eliminate waste and ensure efficiency in the manufacturing processes while the Six Sigma side eliminates defects and helps ensure predictable process results. And, completing a LSS project does not require you to hire a full time black belt. Here is what you need to know:

3 Lean Six Sigma Tools for Smaller Manufacturers



Cross functional teams when used within the DMAIC process can deliver huge impacts for smaller manufacturers very quickly. DMAIC, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control, is a specific approach to problem solving and the five phases of Lean Six Sigma.  The time frame to solve this type of challenge is typically less than sixty days which involves a two-hour kickoff meeting and then one meeting for one hour each week for the following six weeks.

The process begins with a meeting which pulls together one representative from each department that would be involved by making a change in the processes that are involved in the current issue.  This team brainstorms ideas on how they might fix the problem.  What inevitably happens in the meeting is at the beginning, each person can only see their own piece of the process, but as the issue is discussed, the entire process becomes visible to everyone in the room. And, somehow miraculously, a solution appears and everyone in the room is able to get on the same page.  Since each department was involved in determining the solution, getting everyone to buy in is much easier. The craziest thing is that this happens within a few short hours…not several months or years.



Kaisen is a tool that can help to bring clarity to complexity that exists in current processes in order to improve processes and eliminate the waste that is involved. The simple process of mapping out the steps that are used within a processes can be eye opening for business leaders.

The process begins by gathering a group to question the current process, typically to meet for two full days. During this time, this group will review the current processes and generate small improvements. Kaisen events often result in major improvements in quality, safety, and delivery, as well as, reduced costs.



The 5S stands for sort, straighten, sweep, standardize, and sustain. This process is an organizational tool that will impact the efficiency of the manufacturing company. The 5S process is a group effort where each team member helps to determine the tools needed for each job and then how and where they should be stored. It might seem simple, but when the teams that use each of the devices or tools, assigns them to a specific location within the shop, the result is streamlined processes and the time that was wasted searching for tools they needed is removed. The workplace becomes an efficient machine which leads to increased morale and increased output of the team. And, because the team members themselves were involved in determining the setup, each person will work to maintain it long term.



Find out how Lean Six Sigma can help you.  Send us a quick note to request your free strategy session.



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