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Integrating six sigma and theory of constraints for continuous improvement: a case study

Ike Ehie (Department of Management, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA)
Chwen Sheu (Department of Management, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 1 July 2005

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Abstract

Purpose

To investigate the potential of combining six sigma (SS) and theory of constraints (TOC) to improve production system performance.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on the literature, this paper proposes an integrated TOC/SS framework and applies this framework to an axle manufacturing company to improve its gear‐cutting operation.

Findings

The results of the case study indicate that the company benefited tremendously from its emphasis on global improvement guided by the TOC concept. Managers were able to select a continuous improvement (CI) project that had greater impact on bottom line performance. On the other hand, SS provided various statistical tools and engineering techniques (such as value analysis, Pareto diagram and control charts) for defining the specific process to be improved, analyzing the root causes, and designing actions for making improvement.

Research limitations/implications

For the future effort of integrating TOC with SS and other CI techniques, we suggest the incorporation of a TOC methodology, thinking process (TP).

Practical implications

Overall, the integration of SS and TOC provides managers with an excellent platform for two CI techniques to work together and create great synergy.

Originality/value

This study adds to the CI literature and practice by demonstrating the value of a method of combining TOC and SS.

Keywords

Citation

Ehie, I. and Sheu, C. (2005), "Integrating six sigma and theory of constraints for continuous improvement: a case study", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 16 No. 5, pp. 542-553. https://doi.org/10.1108/17410380510600518

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited