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Lean and Six Sigma

Whether you are a manufacturer, distributor, healthcare organization, or a government agency, the goal for each of us is to be more efficient and eliminate waste wherever it occurs. Continuous improvement is the answer. So how do you implement and sustain continuous improvement in a systematic manner that will take hold and become part of your organization’s culture? One answer is through the use of Lean Enterprise.

Lean is a combination of concepts and tools that have been in existence for more than forty years. Many of the concepts used date back to the early 1900’s. The approach used to implement and maintain a Lean Enterprise creates culture and drives at the very heart of most organizational problems. Lean is the systematic identification and elimination of waste through continuous improvement in pursuit of perfection.

The Lean Enterprise Process

Identify Opportunities

Assess your processes and determine where your pain points and opportunities exist. Use Argent to assist you in diagnosing where and how Lean can streamline your processes and reduce costs.

Design Solutions

Create a blueprint for Lean which includes training, Value Stream Mapping, and integration within the strategic vision of the organization. Employees at all levels of the organization must be familiarized with the concepts of Lean. A select group representing a cross section of staff and management must be skilled in Value Stream Mapping. All management team members must be trained and become Lean champions. Designing realistic solutions depends on this strategy.

Implementation

Start out with pilot projects or Kaizen Events that have a high probability for success. This ensures that employees see the value and understand that Lean can make a difference. Then use a phased rollout approach across the organization, based upon the strategic vision of the organization.

Continuous Improvement

Lean never ends. The journey to excellence requires a cyclical process of measuring performance and discussing the opportunities. Team meetings to discuss the progress, current state and performance numbers must be used to determine where the organization goes next. As you start the process over, always remember to realign the teams and opportunities to match the strategic vision of the organization.

Six Sigma Services

Argent uses a unique approach that gives clients the power and statistical insight of Six Sigma integrated with the speed and employee empowerment of Lean. Our training, rooted in a results-driven philosophy provides clients with all the essential Lean and Six Sigma tools and the ability to know which tool to use when. Argent’s Six Sigma services include:

Six Sigma project management
Six Sigma project staffing services
Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training
Lean Six Sigma Black Belt training
Our experienced staff is comprised of Six Sigma Black Belts and Green Belts that have spent thousands of man-hours implementing Lean and Six Sigma solutions with clients around the globe. Prior to starting a Six Sigma project with a client, we work to match the right project team credentials with each organization’s needs. Some of the benefits of implementing Six Sigma are:

Lower costs
Repeatable processes
Fewer defects
Shorter cycle times
Increased throughput and capacity

Lean and Six Sigma

Argent Global assists clients in optimizing their operations to reduce costs, remove waste, improve quality, and raise service levels. Argent’s certified Lean trainers also provide workshops that give your staff the knowledge needed to transform your organization into a Lean Enterprise. Below is a partial list of classes that Argent provides:

Lean Overview: Introduction to Lean Concepts and Benefits
Lean Essentials™: 5-Day Comprehensive Lean Workshop
5S Workshop: Quick-Hitting Productivity Improvement Workshop
Value Stream Mapping (VSM) Workshop: VSM Training Workshop
Kaizen Event: Hands-On Productivity Improvement Event
Argent also provides industry-specific Lean classes:

Lean Manufacturing: Applying Lean in Manufacturing Operations
Lean Distribution: Applying Lean to Distribution Processes
Lean Health Care: Applying Lean in Health Care Organizations
Lean-Lab™: Applying Lean in the Clinical Laboratory
Transactional Lean: Applying Lean in Support, Service and Administrative Operations

A Kaizen Event targets a specific function/operation to quickly identify opportunities for development of solutions to problems and then implements those solutions in a very short time period (perhaps within five days). 

Argent conducts Kaizen Events with clients around the globe. These events help companies to rapidly deploy solutions that improve productivity and operational effectiveness. 

Kaizen Events have proven to help companies raise quality levels, achieve linear production, decrease cycle times, improve on-time deliveries, and increase productivity – all of which result in reduced costs and more satisfied customers.

“Pull” production involves the utilization of specific “triggers” that are used to drive production based on actual customer requirements as opposed to forecasts. 

Overproduction and associated wastes can be eliminated through establishing a well-defined pull system. 

Argent’s expertise in this area allows us to assist our clients in designing and implementing a pull system strategy that meets their specific requirements.

One of the simplest ways for organizations to improve operational performance is to conduct a 5S project. It is a “quick hitting” common sense approach that allows operations to immediately implement process enhancing solutions with easy buy-in from employees. 

Because of this, it is a great tool for helping organizations transform into a Lean Enterprise. 

5S techniques enable organizations to sort out unnecessary items including equipment, fixtures and documentation. However, 5S is much more than industrial housekeeping. Valuable by-products of 5S programs include an organized work environment, increased workspace, improved productivity, reduced supply costs and a more standardized work environment. 

Argent can help your organization implement a 5S program today that will lay the foundation for operational improvement for the future.

A Value Stream Map (VSM) is a graphical representation of every process in the material and information flow along with other key elements. Through the Value Stream Mapping process, organizations learn how to:

  • identify value
  • differentiate value from waste
  • eliminate sources of waste
  • develop improved workflow
  • graphically represent present and future states

Value Stream Mapping is a critical step in lean conversions because it shows companies where to apply lean techniques for maximum effect. Argent provides training on Value Stream Mapping and tools such as the FlowCharter™ to help companies with their Lean transformation. 

Organizations also learn how to avoid the common mistake of cherry-picking lean project implementation which leads to building isolated islands of improvement instead of improving the whole production flow to reap the biggest benefits.

Facilties that have implemented a 5S program can take their operation to the next level using VCS techniques. Make every process in your facility “speak to you”, so you can manage at a glance. Eliminate endless searching for missing tools or documents. Reduce mistakes caused by unclear signals.

By creating visual cues and techniques, you can develop a visual factory – one where each employee can let you know what’s needed and what’s completed. This is an excellent employee participation tool that saves thousands of hours of searching and improves company-wide communication.