The purpose of this paper is to provide an example of Lean Six Sigma (LSS) application in research and development (R&D) organizations to eliminate waste and improve systems based on available data that in turn improves the innovative environment. Manufacturing R&D involves designing and testing innovative concepts and taking them into high-volume manufacturing. The infrastructure associated with such organizations involves experimental manufacturing lines with the ability to evaluate the result under statistical process control and configuration control. The integration of LSS process improvement methodology into the R&D organization infrastructure and operations can have a dramatic effect on reducing cost and time related to the development and delivery of new technologies and products.
The LSS methodology was systematically implemented to eliminate waste and improve the existing process of Intel’s configuration control during the development and ramp phases. The steps included an assessment of the current state through walking the process and collecting baseline data, preparing the process map to quantify waste and inefficiencies, defining the ideal state along with a realistic target, selecting and implementing the improvement actions together with realizing and documenting the improvements and finally developing and putting into place a control plan to ensure the new process is sustained. The LSS approach resulted in an efficiency improvement exceeding the target, i.e. 60 per cent reduction in idle time and waste (non-value-added activities) versus a target of 40 per cent reduction. The results also showed an increase in the stakeholder satisfaction without compromising the technical rigor of the manufacturing configuration control.
The LSS case study presented in this paper provides experiences to LSS practitioners in manufacturing R&D environment where the operational excellence is to be sought in new technology and product development.
Project leaders can use the study to help formulate strategies to cater to customer/stakeholder satisfaction and eliminate waste while maintaining the technical rigor of the R&D environment.
*Current Affiliation: School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, USA
Panat*, R., Dimitrova, V., Selvy Selvamuniandy, T., Ishiko, K. and Sun, D. (2014), "The application of Lean Six Sigma to the configuration control in Intel’s manufacturing R&D environment", International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 444-459. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJLSS-02-2014-0004
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