Some real-world examples of how manufacturers are using quality tools and processes to improve their work and the bottom line.
Process Management Approach Reduces Scrap, Saves Alcoa Millions
A team at Alcoa Power and Propulsion sought to improve product quality, reduce waste and inefficiency, and cut costs. To achieve these goals, the team developed and implemented a structured process management approach across the business unit. By defining and then standardizing key processes, the unit minimized variation, shared best practices, and sustained improvements. The project improved customer satisfaction, reduced costs of poor quality, and saved millions of dollars. The team was named a finalist in ASQ’s 2015 International Team Excellence Awards competition. Read the online case study presentation or download Process Management Approach Reduces Scrap, Saves Alcoa Millions (PDF).
DMADV Project Saves $2 Million for Brazilian Mining Company
A Six Sigma team at Samarco Mining developed a low-energy iron ore pellet to meet customer needs and internal goals. Using the DMADV methodology and a variety of quality tools, the team helped Samarco realize more than $2 million in savings annually through this project. The team was named a finalist in ASQ’s 2015 International Team Excellence Awards competition. Read the online case study presentation or download DMADV Project Saves $2 Million for Brazilian Mining Company (PDF).
Mega Pack Line Blow-Up: DMAIC Roadmap Leads Boston Scientific Heredia to Reengineer Packaging Lines
Corporate rates of improvement at Boston Scientific represent a yearly challenge and opportunity to improve and exceed different operation indicators such as service and efficiency, safety, quality, and cost within the company. A DMAIC roadmap provides a standardized and recognized set of tools to be used as methodology during part of the project implementation, based on a lean manufacturing point of view. Core team members and product builders within the Amplatz Super Stiff™ Guidewires area worked together to improve efficiency, increase safety, and save money using a DMAIC roadmap.
Cutting Iron Pellet Production Costs Via Improved Efficiency Saves Mining Company $8 Million
A performance improvement team at Samarco's Brazil mining facility focused on reducing iron ore pellet production costs. Using the DMAIC methodology and a variety of quality tools, the team uncovered root causes and created solutions to improve the efficiency of natural gas consumption. By implementing five low-cost solutions, the project delivered fuel cost savings of $8 million.
Clean Approach Saves Global Pharmaceutical Drug Manufacturer Time, Money
A team-based Lean Six Sigma project at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals in St. Louis, Mo. aimed to reduce equipment cleaning time. Using a variety of quality tools, including process mapping, brainstorming, and root-cause analysis, the team created a new cleaning procedure. Meeting all objectives, the project resulted in significant annual cost savings for the company.
The Corning Journey to Performance Excellence: Innovation
Spanning Three Centuries
Northwestern University, Buckman Associates, and ASQ present a case study detailing the performance excellence journey of Corning, Inc. Founded in 1851, Corning is known for innovations in the development of glass products and glass- and ceramics-based applications. Its commitment to manufacturing what it invents contributes to its success in serving consumer and industrial markets for the past 160 years. In this case study you'll read the situation analysis of the challenges that Corning, a 1995 Baldrige Award recipient, faced in its sustainable performance excellence journey and some of the implementation activities of the Corning performance excellence team, along with results they experienced.
Turn Around or Shut Down (PDF, 211 KB)
With just a year to transform the failing chemical unit at Trident Group, the company's unit head formed an improvement team to analyze performance metrics and find a solution to improve the previously successful unit.
Thai Brewery Deploys QFD Tools to Tap Into Consumer Motivation (PDF, 162 KB)
Boon Rawd Brewery, the maker of Singha beer, saw an opportunity to better understand its American, British, and Australian customers as demand for Thai food products in these market segments continued to boom. The company partnered with Japan Business Consultants, Ltd. and deployed QFD tools using a five-step approach to uncover the thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and perceptions influencing the consumption of its products. The team’s findings were used to craft marketing messages to appear in print ads.
Chinese OEM Reduces Returns With Improved Product Testing (PDF, 184 KB)
When Continental Automotive Systems, Tianjin, China, began producing an electronic component known as the silver box, the return rate was more than 1,200 parts per million (ppm), versus a goal of less than 100 ppm. A Six Sigma improvement team used quality tools including trend charts, Pareto charts, and cause-and-effect diagrams to analyze the failure modes for the reported defects, finding that many were not being covered by product testing processes. A combination of technical innovation tools, including test coverage analysis, fault insertion, and a test methods selection matrix, along with Six Sigma process improvement and statistical tools, led the team to the solution of adding new testing items and a new testing station to the process. Adding the new tests reduced silver box returns to fewer than 50 ppm, producing cost savings of $130,000 per year while also strengthening relations with a major customer.
General Motors Technical Problem-Solving Group Drives Excellence
(PDF, 500 KB)
The Red X team at General Motors was reduced by 78 percent after the company restructured in 2009. The team turned to lean and the Red X approaches they use to solve vehicle performance issues to increase their output of completed projects by making the problem-solving process more efficient. The team’s success paved the way for additional projects, which contributed toward a 50 percent reduction in GM’s 12-months-in-service warranty. The team earned finalist honors in the 2012 ASQ International Team Excellence Award competition.
Opening A World With ASQ Certification (PDF, 342 KB) While Marty Palczynski originally pursued ASQ certification to improve his position in a job search, it soon evolved into a journey of continued professional development and growth.
Ford Team Project Builds Relationships, Improves Quality (PDF, 427 KB)
When pre-launch reviews of the Ford Fiesta pointed to concerns about the quality of the vehicle's carpet, a team of Six Sigma Black Belts turned to design of experiments (DOE) to improve the carpet manufacturing process. The team redesigned the process in just two weeks, improving carpet quality and strengthening Ford's relationship with the supplier.
ASQ Certification: My Competitive Advantage in a Tough Economy (PDF, 361 KB)
This recent college graduate jumpstarted his career in healthcare by obtaining the CQIA and CSSBB certifications. Within two years after landing his first job, he received two promotions and tripled his salary.
Continuous Improvement at Two Companies (PDF, 362 KB)
Todd Schneider shares lessons learned from helping to integrate continuous improvement into the operations of two companies. Examples of improvement projects at his current employer, Serigraph, show how teams used Six Sigma to improve yield by more than 20 percent, saving $40,000 in 10 months, and improve vendor material management, saving $192,000 per year.
Quality Revolution Reduces Defects, Drives Sales Growth at 3M (PDF, 392 KB)
By combining Lean Six Sigma and a Top-200 customer focus, 3M improved its belt fabrication processes. The improvement team reduced defects in parts per million by a factor of 28 times as sales increased by 54 percent.
Critical Elements for Major Improvements
The MEDRAD packaging area’s Critical Elements improvement team used Six Sigma, brainstorming techniques, and a solution priority chart to reduce annual expenses by $160,000, eliminate excessive overtime, and reduce reliance on temporary workers.
Wind Power Company Gets to the Root of an Icy Issue (PDF, 429 KB)
A root cause analysis project saved Clipper Windpower $1 million in lost revenue while increasing customer satisfaction.
It’s a Matter of Time: Ship Servicers Use Quick Kaizen to Shorten Long Turnaround (PDF, 236 KB)
A team at the Yokosuka Calibration Laboratory, U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center, used a series of kaizen events to shorten service lead time by 68 percent. The team qualified as a finalist in ASQ’s 2008 International Team Excellence Award process.
Piecing Things Together: Better Materials Organization Improves Ship Repair Service (PDF, 276 KB)
Employees at the Sasebo production shop of the U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center used a lean 5S approach to establish a new way of managing their materials inventory. The team reduced time spent looking for parts by 80 percent and qualified as finalists in ASQ’s 2008 International Team Excellence Award process.
Getting Green With Lean (PDF, 483 KB)
The JDSU legal department’s global trade team used lean tools to eliminate waste from its import management processes. By creating a paperless process, the team handled a 500-percent increase in work and eliminated at least 70,000 paper copies per year.
Optimizing Purchasing Processes Saves $1 Million (PDF, 258 KB)
Can a change in purchasing processes for the most basic manufacturing components, like bolts, actually lead to $1 million in savings? For an MWM INTERNATIONAL Motores Six Sigma improvement team, the answer is a resounding yes.
Medical Device Manufacturer’s Continuous Improvement Approach Reduces Errors in Records
Using a three-tiered approach that included technology-, process-, and people-related solutions, MEDRAD reduced errors in product history records by 26 percent.
AS 9100 Keeps Bosch Communications Flying High in Aerospace Industry (PDF, 283 KB)
In just 11 months, Bosch Communications earned certification to both ISO 9001 and AS9100, the international quality management system standard for the aerospace industry.
Six Sigma Green, Black Belts Help Manufacturer Save Nearly $1.5 Million (PDF, 115 KB)
Green Belt efforts have resulted in hard savings of $1.2 million for Crown Equipment Corporation. Black Belt efforts have brought $285,000 in hard savings, with more expected as projects proceed further.
At Genzyme, Training and Documentation Take Center Stage (PDF, 145 KB)
Genzyme Corporation’s associate director of training and documentation relies on best practices sharing, knowledge mapping, and networking to help accomplish his primary job-related responsibilities: communicate, analyze, and act. The skills he developed as a quality auditor and the knowledge he gained from the certification process have remained applicable to the world of training and documentation.
It All Ties Together (PDF, 541 KB)
A locomotive company refused to sit idly by, knowing a significant amount of diesel fuel was being wasted. Using quality tools, a company team found a way to conserve fuel and save millions of dollars. The team earned the Bronze Award at the 2007 International Team Excellence Competition.
Pall Corporation: A Profile in “Process Excellence”
Pall Corporation’s “Process Excellence” combines lean, Six Sigma, dashboard metrics, and team involvement. This combination ensures improvement efforts are aligned with business imperatives and contributes to a culture of accountability.
Quality Tools, Teamwork Lead Boeing Team to a System Redesign (PDF, 191 KB)
A team from Boeing, as well as members of the Air Force and suppliers, worked to fix the C-17's inert gas generating system that previously needed constant repairs. The outcome was a 7,400% increase in system reliability and reduced initialization time. The group was one of three teams to earn a silver medal in the 2007 International Team Excellence Competition.
The Bug and the Slurry: Bacterial Control in Aqueous Products (PDF, 110 KB)
When a customer reported a problem using polycrystalline diamond (PCD) slurry supplied by Warren/Amplex, collaborative teamwork uncovered the source and led to a solution within 72 hours. Understanding recent changes not only in customer requirements but also in customer processes proved to be key to the solution.
Agricultural Firms Gain Competitive Edge With USDA’s ISO 9001-Based Verification Program (PDF, 528 KB)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Process Verified Program uses the ISO 9001:2000 standard to evaluate the quality management systems of agricultural businesses.
It’s in the Genes at Cummins (PDF, 132 KB)
Leveraging Six Sigma methods and tools, the Indiana based diesel maker successfully completed an HR project involving a labor union.
Quality Progress, April 2007.
ISM Makes the Business Case for Social Responsibility (PDF, 119 KB)
The Institute for Supply ManagementTM (ISM) shares research and tools to educate supply professionals about the social, financial and ethical benefits of socially responsible behavior. This case study includes ISM’s Principles of Social Responsibility.
Siemens VDO Optimizes Processes Using Six Sigma (PDF, 185 KB)
Six Sigma is one of five pillars supporting the Siemens VDO quality strategy. The company earned global recognition for its use of Six Sigma when one project team earned the Bronze Award in the 2006 International Team Excellence Award competition.
You Can Go Home Again (PDF, 138 KB)
The former chairman and CEO of Corning came out of retirement to turn around the company by focusing on quality, values and Six Sigma’s DMAIC process.
Quality Progress, January 2007.
Cummins Inc. Saves Nearly $1 Billion with Six Sigma
Using Cost of Quality to Improve Business Results (PDF, 260 KB)
Since centering improvement efforts on cost of quality, CRC Industries has reduced failure dollars as a percentage of sales and saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Next Level Leadership (PDF, 146 KB)
Texas Nameplate Co. is the first small business to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award twice.
A Recipe for Excellence (PDF, 265 KB)
The Bama Companies’ sales increased 70%—from $120 million in 1999 to more than $200 million in 2004.
Six Sigma's Power to Save: A DMAIC Project Reduces Energy Consumption for Visible Savings
A Six Sigma DMAIC project reduced energy consumption levels by 28% and achieved yearly savings of US $122,200 at a radiator manufacturing plant in Pune, India.
Six Sigma Forum Web Site, January 2005.
Project Leads to $1.65 Million in Annual Savings (PDF, 286 KB)
Improvement needed to meet rising demand for galvanized coils.
Six Sigma Forum Magazine, November 2004.
Stoner: Built on a Strong Foundation (PDF, 297 KB)
The implementation of Baldrige business criteria helped Stoner Inc. achieve a 400% growth in sales since 1990.
Six Sigma: The Critical Link between Process Improvements and Business Results (PDF, 382 KB)
A delivery improvement case study from Pune, India, demonstrates how Six Sigma's focus on the relationships among a project's business Y, customer Y, process Y and inputs (Xs) can achieve breakthrough results.
Six Sigma Forum Web Site, October 2003.
The Honeywell Experience (PDF, 60 KB)
In 2002, Honeywell International Inc. had $1.2 billion in productivity improvement gains, a sizable portion of which came from its Six Sigma Plus initiative.
Process Improvement at BOC Edwards (PDF, 77 KB)
This electronic gas filling facility used Six Sigma to reduce costs and improve quality.
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