Abstract: This paper hypothesises that, whilst Six Sigma as a change and improvement strategy is delivering significant business benefit to practitioner organisations, it has not been successfully adapted to deliver similar benefits across supply chains. It demonstrates by reference to the literature that most published applications of Six Sigma in supply chains are related to the application of traditional internal Six Sigma methodologies to the internal processes of a supplier to the “Six Sigma Organisation”. In this paper, the issues particular to an application of Six Sigma in a broader supply chain context are discussed, with reference to specific supply chain issues. It is concluded ...view middle of the document...
1.1 General Introduction
Six Sigma Process Improvement is a rigorous approach to improving business processes by addressing the underlying causes of variation that lead to poor performance as experienced by the ‘customer’, who is the recipient of the outputs. The early exponents were Motorola and GE in the 1980s. Since then, many organisations ranging from manufacturing to service in all sectors, have successfully deployed Six Sigma to deliver measurable cost, quality and time based improvements.
2.0 LEAN - SIX SIGMA
In the past, Lean and Six Sigma have at times been viewed almost as rival methodologies, with some companies choosing one or the other as their primary improvement vehicle.
Two of the most powerful forces in manufacturing and now the broader supply chain are “Lean” and “Six Sigma.” Traditionally, many companies have adopted one or the other as their primary approach to operational improvement, or in some cases used both but as fairly independent tools.
Increasingly, however, companies are seeing the benefit of combining the two techniques into a more integrated strategy that uses the best of each approach, which can be highly complementary. Many believe this “Lean Six Sigma” strategy is the best way to improve overall supply chain results and tackle process improvement more holistically.
Lean, the name given to the Toyota Production System in the book The Machine that Changed the World, has traditionally been associated with the elimination of waste in business processes. Lean was originally focused on improvement on the factory floor, but has since been used in some cases to power broader supply chain improvements. European retailer Tesco, for example, used Lean principles to engineer improved store replenishment processes.
Six Sigma is a quality improvement methodology that in general seeks to reduce process and results variation. Originally focused on improving the quality of manufactured components, the approach has also been expanded for use in improving almost any business process. Drug wholesale McKesson, for example, has used Six Sigma to improve a variety of supply chain processes, such as inbound trailer cycle times and pick face replenishment efficiency.
2.1 Adding Value With SCOR
Developed by the not-for-profit Supply-Chain Council, SCOR (Supply Chain Operations Reference) is a model that links process elements, metrics, best practices and features associated with supply chain execution. It helps to identify and quantify critical opportunities for improvements not only within the supply chains of a single company but also between multiple trading partners. It describes a continuum of processes: Plan, Source, Make, Deliver and Return. SCOR works best with companies that have an enterprise information platform that can carefully track this continuum through KPIs and scorecards or at least provide the data so that a qualified enterprise platform can acquire the data, analyze it and surface...