Research and Insights
During the past few years, many organizations have been implementing Lean and Six Sigma in an integrated manner with notable success because of their complementary features. For example, the founders of NOVACES were the first to help U.S. shipyards successfully integrate Lean and Six Sigma. We are discovering, however, even this advanced approach can be further enhanced for industries with high demand variability.
So today, our research involves the integration of Theory of Constraints with Lean Six Sigma. This methodology brings a system-level perspective that focuses efforts on managing constraints to achieve maximum throughput. This is particularly beneficial for maintenance operations, hospitals, high-tech companies, and more. The integration of TOC and Lean Six Sigma has already produced successes in various industries.
NOVACES has been co-leading the integration of TOC with Lean Six Sigma for the U.S. Navy’s Enterprise AIRSpeed program to improve naval aviation maintenance. Typically, maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) environments show very high variation in demand, repair time, and work content. Key findings of this integration effort showed how to best integrate these three methodologies in MRO.
After stabilizing operations using TOC tools, Lean and Six Sigma projects are selected to achieve the improvement. Importantly, the integration simply cannot be a toolbox approach. For example, our research has revealed that Lean and TOC tools must be applied with careful coordination, otherwise interactions between Lean line balancing and TOC process design can impede efforts.