Make DMAIC the Root of Every New Process this Year
Lean Six Sigma is the universal standard of excellence for manufacturing. And while most manufacturers are using lean practices to some degree, not everyone realizes the power of simple lean concepts and their role in fostering continuous improvement. Getting back to the basics means getting back to the heart of lean manufacturing: DMAIC.
Define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC) is the fundamental process behind all lean innovation. This year, make sure it’s also the central driver of any new processes or improvements you decide to take on.
What makes a good process?
The reason DMAIC is such an important framework for manufacturers to understand because it creates the best possible processes. Within the context of DMAIC, processes are developed step-by-step, honed, and stratified to be the most complete versions by the time they’re finished. A process developed using this lean principle offers minimal waste, high repeatability, and actionable results.
Using DMAIC as a process development tool
DMAIC is an incremental tool, wherein each step is just as important as the last. Through the collaborative nature of the process, manufacturers can rest assured the culmination of the DMAIC approach is a sound process.
- Define: Define the problem that requires a new process to be built around it. “We keep running out of X part in the supply inventory.”
- Measure: Quantify the problem that requires attention. “We use 10 parts per month and stock 10 parts in our inventory.”
- Analyze: Identify the cause of the problem and why it occurs. “Availability and demand are misaligned by 10 days, so we run out of inventory too soon.”
- Improve: Solve the root cause and verify the improvement. “Part ordering is done 10 days earlier, to align demand and inventory, without increasing inventory.”
- Control: Maintain the new process and pursue perfection. “Develop an automated reorder process that’s tied to inventory usage, to prevent aberrations.”
Each step of the DMAIC process is inherently important as a standalone action, and in the development of a new process. In the simple example above, the solution (new process) is only possible because the problem is identified, quantified, and analyzed. This fundamental improvement approach should be the catalyst for all lean-driven process improvements.
DMAIC for solutions that last
We build processes to create solutions. Processes are repeatable and provide value. Fixing a problem one time or installing a one-time solution may serve the immediate need, but that will only mask a problem over the long term. Using DMAIC to build a lasting process that offers value is a way to foster not just leaner operations, but more control over the daily functions of your factory.
The old saying goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” But that doesn’t mean myriad solutions can’t be found within the framework of a proven approach to problem-solving. Instead of throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks — to use another adage — take a focused approach using DMAIC and find the best solution to a problem, developing a process that’s best-suited for it.