Balasaheb Bhau Albhar, is the head of quality and EHS MBB at Umicore Autocat India Pvt. (European MNC) and in this article explores issues of green and lean.

“Sustainability requires maintaining life supporting natural capital in order for our socioeconomic goals to be met” – Warren Flint.

LSS is an integration of two world class manufacturing improvement philosophies that help organisations improve their performance and competitiveness towards sustainability. The LSS model provides various kinds of sustainability to companies in terms of quality enhancement, zero defect level, market share enhancement, optimal production level, financial returns & social sustainability. Multinational companies are more orientated toward implementation of LSS than small scale locally held companies.

Benefits of sustainability.

Implementation of those method requires considerable cost and effort and skill in terms of human resource training and reformulation of business processes.

The LSS approach was utilised as it seeks to optimise flow by using empirical methods to decide what matters, rather than uncritically accepting pre-existing ideas. Manufacturing environments vary from company to company and this necessitates differences in their purpose, design and control. As such, there is no single set of management procedures that can be universally adopted to govern them.

Certain LSS techniques are more compatible with certain facility layouts than others. However, lean production provides us with a starting point for viewing a company’s operating practices with the final goal of seeking operational improvement. Utilising LSS techniques not only examines how to use particular LSS tools, but how to sustain results that make companies profitable, sustainable with continual improvement.


Significance of the study:

The study is aimed to drill down into concept of sustainability provided by LSS. It is important to learn how those tools are helping companies to improve their performance and efficiency towards sustainability.

How to use the LSS methodology to make process-focused decisions that will achieve the goals of sustainability and allow organisations to gain true benefits from process improvements. It covers sustainability and metrics, lean manufacturing, six sigma tools, sustainability project management, sustainability modelling, sustainable manufacturing and operations, decision making, and sustainability logistics.

These tools help sustain results while keeping organisations competitive regardless of economic conditions. While continuous improvement techniques look good on paper, the implementation of the techniques can become difficult and challenging to maintain. Without utilising LSS tools and leading the change, companies will become less and less marketable and profitable. Achieving sustainable results from high-quality improvements and making organisations competitive and first in class in their marketplace.

Moreover, it is significant from six sigma companies view point by looking into possible sustainability six sigma can add to their businesses. Lean is not a set of tools, it is a corporate philosophy and culture that abhors waste and works to optimise the enterprise as a system using several tools and techniques. From a sustainability perspective many, if not all, environmental impacts can be viewed as waste and must therefore be driven by poor systems thinking. It seems natural lean can be used as a powerful tool to improve environmental sustainability.

Path towards successful implementation of lean for sustainability:

As more and more companies attempted to become lean and struggled with lean implementation, it became apparent applying lean as only set of tools on the production floor did not work. So below are some guide lines.

A) Following are the five steps to guide its successful implementation,

(1) Specify value from the standpoint of the end customer by product family.

(2) Identify all the steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating whenever possible those steps not creating value.

(3) Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so the product will flow smoothly toward the customer.

(4) As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.

(5) As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect value is created with no waste.


B) Shingo Prize Model for lean enterprise

The Shingo Prize Model is an overall systems model that incorporates all aspects of business operations and processes. The model was developed to promote lean/world-class business practices that result in ability to compete globally and demonstrates that culture is the foundation of a lean enterprise. The Shingo Prize uses business metrics as a measure of success; thus, only companies whose positive results are driven by the transformation to lean.

The Shingo Model recognises “cultural enablers” as the foundation of a lean enterprise. Culture as a central lean implementation requirement.

• A continual improvement culture focused on identifying and eliminating waste throughout the production process.

• Employee involvement in continual improvement and problem-solving; Operations-based focus of activity and involvement.

A metrics-driven operational setting that emphasises rapid performance feedback and leading indicators; supply chain investment to improve enterprise-wide performance.

• A whole systems view and thinking for optimising performance.


Types of tools and its applications           

A) Lean manufacturing:

It is a value-driven approach that focuses on identifying and reducing waste to create an efficient and cost effective production system. To create the highest quality production system, lean manufacturing relies on a system of continual improvements through the application of five basic principles:

1. Understanding customer value – Only what the customers perceive as value is important.

2. Value stream analysis (VSM) – Analyse business processes to determine which ones add value. A visual, collaborative exercise where employees identify each step in the production process and add them to a production tree, linking all the steps and identifying areas of waste.

Once waste is identified, solutions are developed to remove the waste from the system and a new idealised map is created to implement changes. The value stream mapping tool is used to map the processes and the six sigma’s define, measure, analyse, improve and control (DMAIC) methodology applied to attain improvements. The current state map (CSM) is drawn and using the DMAIC methodology, the future state map (FSM) is drawn.

The production line ultimately achieves improvements in cycle times and in value added time ratio improve significantly. Process-variance is studied using the six sigma principle that is integrated with the lean manufacturing philosophy. The aim was to attain process improvement in manufacturing. It was achieved by identifying and eliminating waste in processes and concurrently determining process variation.

3. Flow: Organise continuous flow through supply-chain and production rather than moving commodities in large batches.

4. Pull: Only produce to meet demanded to prevent the production of commodities for storage.

5. Perfection: Process of continuous improvement to eliminate non-value-adding elements (waste). Lean manufacturing relies on a collaborative atmosphere between all sectors of the manufacturing process to identify waste and develop solutions. There are a variety of approaches that companies use in the lean manufacturing process to identify, solve, implement, or sustain solutions. For this paper we will cover three common approaches a company can use to improve the quality and efficiency of a manufacturing process.


B) Kaizen:

The basics of kaizen.

The philosophy of kaizen is “that small, incremental changes routinely applied and sustained over a long period result in significant improvements”. The kaizen approach is quick, with employees mapping and measuring current processes, instituting solutions, testing, and improving over period of a few days. In short it is a lean manufacturing technique of rapid identification, problem solving, and implementation to reduce production waste.

C) 5S in connection with sustainability:

Once a manufacturing process is in place 5-S improves the process efficiency through, maintaining a clean and orderly workspace .By applying the 5-S items that are needed during manufacturing are found quickly and time isn’t wasted due to obstructions. As I mentioned earlier, lean tools are quite widespread, but the best-known one is still 5S, which derives from the list of five Japanese words.

D) Pareto charts: Six sigma technique for identifying the most prominent defect by type and cost.

E) Why-why analysis (Five why): Six sigma technique of asking why five times to get to the root of any problem.

F) Failure mode effect analysis: Six sigma technique to estimate the severity of a process failure.

G) Just-in-time inventory: Lean manufacturing and TQM function of getting materials when production demands it rather than assuming financial risks of stocking inventory.


Pros and cons

Lean manufacturing’s focus of improving quality through reducing process waste makes it beneficial to “operational improvements and strategic improvements. These improvements are achieved through reducing work-in-process, increasing capacity, reducing cycle-time, and improving customer satisfaction. However, lean manufacturing is susceptible to disruptions due to sudden changes to the production process. The continual improvement process strives to make the existing system high functioning, so when any change occurs in the system, the improvement process must start over. Just-in-time

Production is also risky because not having materials on hand can cause supply-chain congestion that leads to delays and shortages of workers. Lean manufacturing uses continual improvement to streamline efficiency, but this creates an inflexible production system.


Taking the next step towards sustainable manufacturing

For manufacturers already using lean manufacturing, six sigma, or TQM, the framework that is already in place for identifying and solving efficiency issues can be used for guiding workgroups in applying sustainable manufacturing principles. All three of the strategies base efficiency improvements around improving product quality, and through using sustainability assessments to address customer product quality expectations, manufacturers can use their current strategies to address sustainable issues.

Some of the most common environmental issues manufacturers address includes emissions, resource use, and waste production. For example, in an organisation that is using lean manufacturing, employees should be trained to identify and address sustainable issues throughout the manufacturing process. This parallels lean manufacturing’s focus on addressing product quality issues, but now that “product quality issue” is framed by the concept of “sustainable quality.” By training employees to identify sustainable issues in a lean manufacturing strategy, the manufacturing improvement process is helps align the entire operation with an easily understood sustainable improvement goal. To practically fuse lean manufacturing and sustainable manufacturing, the management team must fully commit to achieving sustainability goals in the manufacturing process.

Opportunities for employee training on sustainable issues must be created and taught as part of lean manufacturing curricula. Once training has been completed the traditional techniques of lean manufacturing, like value stream mapping and 5-S can be used to specific call identify sustainable issues and make sustainable improvements. In value stream mapping exercises, new metrics are added to the evaluation of each process step to assess the amount of hazardous waste produced, water used, and energy consumed through the lens of sustainability.

Workgroups can then use these findings to gather and analyse data to implement sustainable improvements to the manufacturing process. The results from value stream mapping can help track an organisation’s improvement along sustainable goals