Lean, Six Sigma, and ISO in the Supply Chain Offer Trio of Benefits (January 2011) Back Lean, Six Sigma, and ISO in the Supply Chain Offer Trio of Benefits (January 2011)

Today’s marketplace is increasingly dynamic and volatile. As customers become more sophisticated, they demand the right product, at the right time, at the right price, and at the right place. Where quality was the competitive weapon of the 1980s, customer responsiveness or time-to-market is the differentiator today. Two lean manufacturing concepts, when applied in tandem, can give you the unmatched competitive edge needed to sustain growth: lean production, also known as lean manufacturing or simply “lean,” is based on creating efficiency by optimizing flow. The production practice is founded on a process management philosophy derived from Toyota in the 1990’s. This business strategy seeks to reduce costs by reducing material inventories. Six Sigma is a method to reduce variation in the manufacturing process. Variation means uncertain outcomes and unpredictable levels of quality. Developed by Motorola in 1986 to remove defects from production processes, Six Sigma prevents unpredictable delivery performance, production mistakes, and poor quality that impact client satisfaction.

The Lean Value Chain

Supply chain management success today is defined by the speed and effectiveness of responding to constant and unforeseen changes. With globalization of sourcing and manufacturing, shifting resources, facilities, and inventories across the world, more and more companies are relying on vendor partners that have adopted lean Six Sigma manufacturing processes.

By synchronizing supply based upon actual and forecasted demand and using lean vendors that can meet just in time delivery demands, companies can become much more nimble and responsive to fluctuating demand. That translates to more profits, as waste is minimized and financial resources are maximized.

An Answer to Innovation Demands

Pressure to innovate and introduce new and exciting products within the shortest possible lead time to retain the existing customer base and attract new customers is relentless. Today, more than ever, manufacturers are feeling the weight of demands for anticipating customer needs while lowering the cost of goods sold—while at the same time experiencing intense competition from a global marketplace.

Lean vendor partners offer the ability to speed up development and create more targeted products and services that can position individual manufacturing companies to fundamentally strengthen their long-term competitive position.

Choosing Lean Supply Partners

Whether your company has officially adopted lean or Six Sigma principles or simply finds the concepts in line with core values, you can benefit from selecting vendor partners that think along the same lines. One way to help identify potential partners is by first validating ISO certification.

The ISO 9000 family of standards is based on eight management principles that form the foundation for quality management systems that ensure the needs of customers and other stakeholders are met. ISO is an umbrella, a broad set of principles that encompass process tools like Six Sigma and Lean. ISO 9001:2008 specifically outlines the requirements that organizations must meet to become certified, which is bestowed by third party certification bodies after rigorous auditing.

Choosing an ISO-certified vendor that operates on lean manufacturing principles provides maximum flexibility in rapidly responding to your fluctuating demand. The immediate benefits are the ability to receive materials within very short turnaround times, make rapid changes to materials, create custom orders, and eliminate excess, outdated supplies. Long-term benefits are reduced price, less quality volatility, and improved supply stability.

There is a final and significant benefit to partnering with lean suppliers—the ability to address a company’s production concerns by meeting three waste guidelines:

  1. Time – reduced lead time to supply and replenish goods, lowering the rate at which working capital is consumed and reducing the resources required to manage supply chain
  2. Inventory – decrease large quantities of materials that can quickly become outdated
  3. Scrap – quickly terminate the supply of outdated materials and contain inventory liabilities

ACCU-FAB, INC. provides contract manufacturing services that meet the most demanding customer specifications. Specializing in assembly integration, program management, and product distribution, in-house manufacturing capabilities include precision metal fabrication, stamping, machining, decorative finishing, and screen printing.

Accu-Fab has an active and robust lean manufacturing operation with the processes that meet “lean customers'” expectations. Our staff thinks “lean” and applies these principles daily!

Accu-Fab also maintains supplier quality certifications with many Fortune 500 companies and all operations are ISO 9001-2008 certified to ensure our customers receive consistent quality in the products and services provided.