Six Sigma Improves the Environment: A Look at a Baxter Manufacturing

Six Sigma best practices are instrumental in changing the way businesses operate. Motorola recognized this in the 1980s when the company employed Six Sigma principles in manufacturing processes. What began as a methodology to reduce defects in a production line has evolved into a way for all industries including healthcare, telecommunications, education, finance, military and even, relationships. Six Sigma made a name for itself after General Electric earned $300 million in its first year of implementation. These monumental changes were the reason why Six Sigma became so important.

Baxter Manufacturing employed the use of Six Sigma business practices to improve its environmental footprint. With the implementation of Six Sigma principles, the company hoped to become more efficient. After applying Lean manufacturing principles, Baxter witnessed a decrease in waste generation. In fact, the company doubled its revenue and its size, but it maintained the same level of waste generation. Here is what the company did to achieve this goal.

A cross-functional team led by a person who had completed Six Sigma training was formed to implement the plan developed. These people had earned their Six Sigma certification and were poised to deliver instructions according to Lean Six Sigma principles. Six Sigma black belt leaders, Six Sigma green belt leaders and Six Sigma yellow belt leaders help to achieve the goals of the organization.

Accurate data was instrumental to the process. The data was collected to measure water discharge. Flow meters, energy readers and stopwatches were essential to the process. Measurement devices can usually be provided at little or no cost. Experts may be needed to make assessments if the expertise is not available in-house. Lean consultants were brought into the company to help facilitate change.

To decrease increasing energy costs and cost of water purification supplies, value stream maps were created to help the team implement the plan. Environmental metrics were incorporated to measure results and facilitate change. Three future state maps were created for various stages of the change.

Baxter’s plan was designed to save the company 170,000 gallons of water. The plan also saved $17,000 in three months without making a significant investment in new procedures or technology. The plan eliminated the need for expansion in the plant’s wastewater treatment plant. After the implementation, the team leaders were promoted to corporate positions because of their efforts.

Six Sigma Improves Manufacturing Processes

Many companies have benefitted from using Six Sigma to improve business practices. Many companies have proven how Six Sigma changes the way business is conducted. With improved processes, companies become more efficient, productive and profitable. With reduced waste, people can live in a cleaner and safer world.

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