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Six sigma can be considered both a business
strategy and a science that has the aim of
reducing manufacturing and service costs, and
creating significant improvements in customer
satisfaction and bottom-line savings through
combining statistical and business process
methodologies into an integrated model of
process, product and service improvement. In six
sigma, customer focus becomes the top priority
and any improvements are defined by their
impact on customer satisfaction and value (Pande
and Holpp, 2002).

Background to DOE

The statistical approach to design of

experiments and the analysis of variance
technique was developed by Fisher (1935)
back in the 1930s. The technique provides
a very powerful and economical method to
determining significant factors and factor
interactions that affect variability within a
product. This classical approach to the
design of experiments was further
developed in the late 1980s when Genichi
Taguchi developed his own form of
statistical design of experiments.

The requirement for a combined

lean-six sigma methodology
There is much debate as to whether formal
process and quality enhancement approaches
can be effectively implemented and subsequently
utilised by SMEs. Thomas and Webb (2003) in
their work on analysing process improvement
systems implementation in SMEs highlight the
lack of intellectual and financial capacity within
small companies as being the primary issues that
lead to poor systems implementation. They go on
to state that the uniqueness and complexity of
SMEs manufacturing operations often hinder the
implantation process. Husband (1997), in studies
with Australian SMEs.

Developing an SME-based LSS

It is clear from the above literature search
that LSS has varied levels of success both in
its ability to provide performance
enhancements to companies and also in its
ease of implementation into companies
especially SMEs. In order to assist SMEs in
the development of LSS, this paper will
propose a LSS implementation model. Its
aim will be to create a single purposeful
framework to allow manufacturing-based
SMEs to implement the process effectively
and to experience the benefits that LSS

Cost savings realised through using

the lean sigma process
The company is still in their initial stages of
lean sigma implementation and a series of
new initiatives are planned to capitalize on the
savings already made within the foam plant.
The following savings have been identified to
Reject rate reduction on the pilot line of 55 per
cent indicating a potential saving over the
year of 29,000. Cost of rejects before LSS
69,000, cost of rejects after LSS 36,000.
Cell OEE increased from 34 to 55 per cent.

Extending the application of the

The model has provided an effective yet
simple framework for a company to
simultaneously improve its manufacturing
operations as well as its product capabilities.
The model concentrates upon DOE as a major
analysis tool and as such is somewhat
conceptually limiting to more advanced
companies wishing to develop different or
more specific statistical tools and techniques
to develop its manufacturing operations.
However, the paper provides an effective road
map to any small manufacturing company
which wishes to embark on the development

Managerial aspects of using the

integrated model
There are many benefits of such an integrated
method, but the feedback-based nature is
particularly important to Company A. It means
that the many opportunities already known at
Company A can be prioritised by a multidisciplinary team considering their individual
targets, the companys goals and the effects
of the expected improvement. This in turn
means that the iterative nature of the model
can be used to achieve optimisation and/or
continuous improvement of a system, in an
almost continuous systematic approach, and
hence help manage the entire business

Pareto analysis of year to date

quality related

An experimental study was undertaken in order
to identify the optimum parameter settings
and predicted settings for the arm rest
problem. The results of the experimental study
enabled a change to be made to the
parameter settings that resulted in a 99 per
cent quality level attainment for the product .
The development of a LSS model developed a
culture towards continuous improvement and
the systematic implementation of the
approach throughout the organisation.