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Applying lean six sigma in a small engineering company – a model for change

Andrew Thomas (Newport Business School, Newport, UK)
Richard Barton (Logistics Systems Dynamics Group, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Chiamaka Chuke‐Okafor (Logistics Systems Dynamics Group, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management

ISSN: 1741-038X

Article publication date: 1 January 2009

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Abstract

Purpose

Both lean and six sigma are key business process strategies which are employed by companies to enhance their manufacturing performance. However, whilst there is significant research information available on implementing these systems in a sequential manner, there is little information available relating to the integration of these approaches to provide a single and highly effective strategy for change in companies. The purpose of this paper is to develop and implement an integrated lean six sigma (LSS) model for manufacturing industry.

Design/methodology/approach

Through the development of a case study approach, the paper chronicles the design, development and implementation of an integrated LSS model. The work in this paper builds upon the SME six sigma model that has been successfully implemented in a number of SMEs. The model is subsequently evaluated for its effectiveness in the subject company.

Findings

This paper proposes an integrated approach to lean and six sigma model. Its development, refinement and implementation has been achieved through working closely with a subject company. The effectiveness of the approach is consequently evaluated highlighting the benefits the host organization received through this new approach by measuring the effects of implementation against internal company measures.

Practical implications

The design, development and implementation of a LSS model shown in this paper provides a simple yet highly effective approach to achieving significant improvements in a company's product quality cost and delivery. The model combines contemporary lean and six sigma strategies and offers practicing production/process/manufacturing managers and engineers with a strategic framework for increasing productive efficiency and output. The paper provides a case study that highlights the application of the model in a subject company and as such further provides key implementation data for managers and engineers to adopt the model in a wide range of manufacturing organisations.

Originality/value

The proposed LSS model contributes to the existing knowledge base on lean and six sigma systems and subsequently disseminates this information in order to provide impetus, guidance and support towards increasing the development companies in an attempt to move the UK manufacturing sector towards world class manufacturing performance.

Keywords

Citation

Thomas, A., Barton, R. and Chuke‐Okafor, C. (2009), "Applying lean six sigma in a small engineering company – a model for change", Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 113-129. https://doi.org/10.1108/17410380910925433

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited