PlantMaster Incorporates Six Sigma to create leaner manufacturing

Using Microsoft Windows and Oracle, Plantmaster builds upon BarcoCIM’s more than 15 years of experience in plastics processing to allow companies an ever more effective manufacturing software program.  The program allows for real-time production monitoring, scheduling, and maintenance management and allows companies to trace their products from raw material all the way through to finished product.  All these technologies combine to offer many plastic production companies userability and effectiveness they were never able to dream of before.  The program is particularly noted for its integration into a larger Six Sigma/Lean manufacturing environment.  Because the program is so flexible, it allows a company to subtly change the way it does business on a regular basis without having to undergo major software restructuring.  This ability to change and try new business models is an integral part of the Six Sigma efficiency program.  ManufacturingTalk Reports:

As such Plantmaster offers a powerful and flexible management tool that provides managers with real time visability on all Key Performance Indicators (KPI), enabling them to achieve operational excellence.



Using Six Sigma to Streamline RFID

There has been a great deal of concern about compliance with regulations regarding the implementation of RFID.  In many ways this has clouded the ultimate goal of the technology, to help companies be more efficient and competitive.  RFID or Radio Frequency Identification is a technology that involves using extremely small sensors in consumer products to track the movement and sale of products in real time.  This allows companies to maintain smaller inventories and to identify shortages of products almost instantaneously.  Ultimately it may also allow companies to track which products are bought in conjunction with their product to allow for more effective marketing.  Recently however, concern about meeting regulations regarding the use of RFID has made the process less appealing for many producers.  Applying the Six Sigma efficiency program to RFID implementation, however, can eliminate many of the concerns about implementation and lead to a more cost efficient and streamlined RFID program. IndustryWeek Reports:

“RFID can essentially computerize every widget produced, trigger actions, and eliminate human errors,” explains James Williams, partner at Avatar Partners.  “Even our customers that are not entrenched in Six Sigma benefit from using this methodology with RFID.”



How Helpful are Six Sigma Conferences?

A recent Six Sigma conference in Johannesburg got me thinking about the benefits of attending Six Sigma conferences.  In theory, the conferences should provide opportunities to learn about different approaches to the application of Six Sigma as well some of the pitfalls that can be avoided through careful application.  In that respect, it must be said that this conference was, like most others a failure.  Little was learned by way of new and innovative applications of Six Sigma that were at all practical.  But that is not to say, however, that attending Six Sigma conferences are not worthwhile.  By contrast, Six Sigma conferences are often a fantastic opportunity to network with professionals involved in the implementation process as well as an opportunity to converse informally with individuals preparing to or currently undertaking an implementation of the same Six Sigma you are preparing to.  Ultimately, these conferences yield exactly what you put into them.  If you go expecting to sit idly by and learn profound details about the Six Sigma process you will be mistaken.  If by contrast however, it view it as an opportunity to develop important contacts with individuals involved with Six Sigma it can be particularly valuable. reports:

It was a great opportunity for our customers to learn more on these topics, as well as to share in the experiences of colleagues, to obtain first-hand information of the successes of Six Sigma in organisations and learnings from the process.



3M Listed as ‘buy’ After Six Sigma Initiative

After a bit of turmoil surrounding the exit of their CEO, analysts are holding strong on their ‘buy’ rating for 3M.  Analysts cite as one of the main reasons for this confidence in the company, its 2Q05 earnings which provide margins ahead of estimates.  Furthermore, the company has cut costs significantly due to its incorporation of Six Sigma initiatives, a process vowed to be continued under the company’s new leadership.  As the company’s sales continue to rebound, the cost savings the firm has achieved through tis remarkably profound incorporation of the Six Sigma and Lean efficiency programs has yielded increasingly vital cost savings. reports:

Analysts at UBS maintain their “buy” rating on 3M (MMM.NYS).  The target price is set to $96.



Book Review: Lean Six Sigma for Service

Michael L. George provides an insightful look at how to incorporate Six Sigma into a company’s service operation.  This allows for both faster and more efficient work.  The book elucideates what have historically been quite sticky Six Sigma concepts by using real-world case studies such as one which focuses on Lockheed Martin and another concentrating on Bank One.  The real appeal of this book, however, is the fact that the book is written with little of the jargon and pretense that catagorize much of the literature on Six Sigma.  Furthermore, it brings to the table not only the benefits of the Six Sigma process but also incorporates some of the best of the Lean methodology which increases the speed at which processes are completed. Combined this allows for more consistent, faster, and more measurable quality in virtually any business’ service sector.  The only major complaint regarding this book is that it gives you very few tangible tasks which you can implement.  On a general level, this somewhat theoretical book gives you a great idea as to how Six Sigma can be applied to the service sector, however it leaves to feeling like it would take more reading to actually go through with the process yourself. MediaGab reports:

However, I would have appreciated some down and dirty, nuts and bolts how-to. After all, the book jacket promises to teach you how to shave dollars from the bottom line.



Employing Six Sigma in Marketing

A recent presentation by Keving Clancy, Ph.D who is chairman and CEO of Copernicus Marketing consulting argued that far too much of what is spent on marketing is not yielding any real results.  Citing a statistic from the 2005 Harvard Business Review Clancy reported that a 100% increase in marketing expenditures returns only a 1% increase in sales.  At face value this type of arguement seems patently rediculous.  But what it reveals, Clancy argues is that many companies are marketing in the wrong way to the wrong people.  He contends that companies should apply the same Six Sigma strategies that have revolutionized their businesses to their marketing.  Marketers should has for more than one idea with regard to positioning statements and concepts rather than go for the first idea that appears solid.  This seemingly introduces a great deal of inefficiency into the braintorming portion of marketing, but ultimately, according to Clancy, allows for much higher end yields. reports:

Dumb targeting and no positioning yield Zero Sigma results.



Book Review: What is Six Sigma Process Management

Rowland Hayler of Pivotal Resources and Michael Nichols of American Express have recently come out with a book entitled, What is Six Sigma Process Management?  The book, published by McGraw Hill, offers new insights into how Six Sigma Process Management (SSPM) can be used to attain higher levels of leadership within the corporate environment.  The book confronts issues such as how to continually reassess, confront, and satisfy customers expectations.  While the book is certainly no substitute for applying an in-depth Six Sigma program it does provide the uninitiated with a straightforward guide for Six Sigma Process Management implementation.  This, like other recent books on Six Sigma, provides an important resource for companies who are unable to make the heavy financial investment required for a full implementation of Six Sigma.  Yahoo Business Reports:

“The book details a proven methodology for helping business leaders determine which efforts will most positively impact their customers, employees, and shareholders.”  As Hayler continues, “SSPM provides a system that guides people on what to improve first and how to establish a portfolio of the best improvement efforts for their business.”



Bank of America Achieves High Six Sigma Cost Savings

Eighty Bank of America employees recently recieved very public commendations for their efforts in incorporating Six Sigma into the company’s business model.  These individuals were divided amongst 15 teams of employees which were recognized for their success in driving down costs and increasing profits through Six Sigma.  The company has in the past three years utilized Six Sigma in increasing depth to drive the company to the number two ranking by assets of US banks.  The program has been credited with playing a major role in reaping $2 billion in revenue gains and cost savings, and future goals are to contribute an additional $1 billion annually in savings and growth through the program.  One such example is the fact of major cost savings was the fact that Bank of America was losing $24 million per year from claims of fraudulent transactions being made using PIN numbers.  With Six Sigma the company was able to identify fraudulent claims of theft by customers, ultimately saving the company $3.5 million per year. Charlotte Observer Reports:

As a spotlight flashed on 15 teams of employees, an announcer highlighted projects with catchy titles like “E-Invoice Reconciliation Process” and “Reduce Unassigned Balances in Central Region.”



BMG Brings Six Sigma to South Africa

Despite the notorious reputation of individuals like Jack Welch and Jeffery Immelt, both of whom attribute much of their success to the Six Sigma efficiency program, there has been little adoption of the program internationally.  Nowhere is that more true that in South Africa.  Until recently there has been little alternative for companies interested in learning the skills necessary and hiring consultants to implement Six Sigma.  Recently, however, Breakthrough Management Group (BMG) Africa has begun providing conferences, training, and technology solutions in Six Sigma.  The company has literally decades of experience in applying and teaching on the principles of Six Sigma.  With clientele ranging from small firms to multinational corporations and spread throughout the world, there is little question that the company has experience necessary to transfer the skills to South Africa. Cape Business News Reports:

BMG’s South African operations are guided under the directorship of Salomon Erasmus and consist of a team of highly qualified, experienced Six Sigma practitioners.



Lonmin (LMI.LN) upgraded to BUY on Six Sigma Announcement

Investment Advising firm Smith Barney has recently upgraded Lonmin (LMI.LN) from hold to a buy status.  The upgrade is due to analysts perception that the company has been and is further able to reduce costs as well as to a strong future of the platinum group metal.  While the market for Lonmin looks strong it has been criticized in the past as a company with too high operating costs and high inefficiencies.  It appears Smith Barney has become convinced that that will change.  That change in opinion is due to the fact that the company is beginning to incorporate the Six Sigma efficiency program.  This program has in the past played an integral role in driving profits for many companies, most notably GE.  Because of the relative assurance that companies will achieve a leaner business model through the program, an announcement that a company will utilize Six Sigma is almost always erflected positively in the price of a stock. reports:

“Lonmin’s cost blow-out over the past three years provides substantial fat to cut,” Smith Barney says. “We believe that Lonmin can reduce costs by around $105M over the next two years maintaining unit costs at cR2,400/PGM oz”



Six Sigma Drives Emotion Out of Decision Making

One of the initial goals of Six Sigma implementation is to identify the priorities and values of your clients and customers.  Consequently, Six Sigma serves to take out much of the guess work in your decision making because you know exactly how to create a hierarchy of values and goals.   The primary criticism given regarding Six Sigma is that it is often quite rigid and impersonal.  This was especially evident as dissenters from Jack Welch’s GE came to criticise his efforts.  In that case, however, the numbers simply defied their criticism.  After two years of implementation Six Sigma saved GE $700 million for a $400 million investment.  But the high cost of implementation has caused many executives who regard their emotion and instincts as integral aspects of the business model feeling as though Six Sigma is little more than a technocratic way for consultants to generate income.  Supporters contend, however, that the perception that emotional decision making is advantageous is simply naive. domain-B Reports:

This view is reflected by Glenn Abercrombie, an Australian who has become a Six Sigma leader and global financial services giant, AXA.  “By eliminating all the emotive statements people tend to attach to problems, you can create a statistical solution and turn that into a practical reality.



Airbus Has Something Nice to Say About Boeing!?!

Airbus and Boeing have been in increasingly heated conversation in recent months, reviving the old debate about illegal subsidies which each accuses the other of recieving.  Airbus put such criticism aside for a moment, however, when Boeing Co. named James McNerney as the company’s chief executive.  In fact, Airbus when so far as to commend the choice made by Boeing.  Airbus insiders have commented that the acquisition of McNerney likely means a future of very stiff competition from their American rivals.  McNerney is known for imposing strict discipline and achieving excellent performance from the organizations he has headed through Six Sigma.  Although his work at 3M was not directly related to the airline industry, McNerney has some experience in the field.  In the late 1990s he headed up GE’s jet engine business, an area where he achieved so much success that he was ultimately snatched up at 3M.  Chicago Tribune Reports:

“He’s an excellent choice for Boeing,” said one top-ranking Airbus official after the announcement Thursday.  “But he’s the worst possible choice for Airbus.”



Western Mining Uses Six Sigma to Reduce Downtime

As the holder and miner of Australia’s largest underground mine, the Western Mining Company has a lot on its plate.  As far as world rankings go, it is the eigth largest copper deposit and the largest uranium deposit in the world.   Because of its size and importance, it is vital to the success of the company that it remain online year round.  This has not been the case, however, in years past.  The company has persistantly had problems in keeping the rail system running, as well as inefficiencies in its data analysis.  It is for this reason that the company decided to incorporate the Six Sigma efficiency program.  Incorporation of Six Sigma has had some very dramatic effects on downtime, such as vastly reducing the reaction time to downtime events as well as the ability to monitor and reduce the “idle time” of the trains by creating the confidence to run them around the clock.  Ferret Reports:

The success of this project has provided a sustained increase in capacity of 20 percent in the rail haulage system with minimal capital expenditure.

“The quality of data that was being captured provided a new level of detail that was not previously available with the original downtime recording system,” he said.



Brightstar Rolls Out Integrisynch which exceeds Six Sigma quality

A leading logistics and supply chain management company, Brightstar provides invaluable services to the wireless community.  Most recently, however, they have announced the reception of a patent for their customized serialization control system.  The system is known as Integrisynch is designed to meet needs specific to customers in the wireless industry.  The product guarantees the accuracy of serialized data and reporting for manufacturers, retailers, and network operators among others.  The program allows companies to monitor and track wireless devices and their components throughout their lifecycle, allowing companies to improve the quality of their products.  The program has thus far proved so effective, it has exceeded the standards of reliability set forth in Six Sigma, 3.4 defects per million opportunities.  By holding all the information for a product in a single database the information is always readily available to providers. Reports:

“Ultimately, this solution saves customers and suppliers money,” said David Stritzinger, chief technology officer of Brightstar.  Customers never need to waste time tracking and individual handset or delving into a handset’s history to identify warranty dates.



Facility Management Incorporates Six Sigma

As competition for large and mid-sized firms becomes ever stiffer with the entrance of new foreign competitors, success requires cost cutting and efficiency oriented strategies in every facet of the company.  With managing facilities accounting for 30% of an average organization’s annual spending, this area can no longer afford to be overlooked.  Maintaining quality infrastructure and reducing overhead are now critical strategies to the growing numbers of companies who outsource business peripherals.  To function correctly, facility managers must incorporate a wide variety of disciplines in an effort to coordinate and make most efficient people, places, processes and technology.  The importance of this sector in areas such as workplace resources, asset management, statutory complience, and employee safety and services can not be overstated.  Consequently, more and more companies are approaching the position in a formal way, by utilizing Six Sigma and other efficiency oriented programs. The Economic Times Reports:

These new priorities have made a facility manager a part of the apex decision-making authority of an organisation.

He must ensure that everything is picture perfect and help the company and employees concentrate on their core responsibility.



GE Looks AWAY from Six Sigma for Growth

In what may be a major blow to the popularity of Six Sigma, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt has acknowledged recently that corporate efficiency may have come at the expense of the customer.  The company who made famous the Six Sigma efficiency program is not branching out of that model to achieve greater success the company must focus not only on cost efficiency, but on growth as well.  The success of the company has meant that opportunities for accelerated growth are increasingly more difficult to find, so the company will need to offer a wider variety of innovative products as well as more comprehensive service.  This strategy diverges from the cost cutting efficiency oriented focus of the company which has helped it to achieve the phenomenal profits and success that it is known for. Reports:

G.E. has launched an aggressive campaign to transform itself into a new-idea-generating innovation machine.  The effort is commendable, and as G.E. is learning it’s difficult to teach potatoes to become carrots.