In every industry, there’s bound to be stiff competition. And due to the increasing economic globalization, it keeps getting tougher each year. Organizations are facing a lot of pressure to increase their efficiency and productivity to remain competitive, especially when it comes to manufacturing. This includes the manufacturing of automobiles.
Not only that, but more pressure is being exerted due to the need to increase customer satisfaction, produce quality products, make workplaces safe, keep in line with regulations and reduce costs.
So how are organizations handling all these pressures? Many of them are turning to Six Sigma to meet these challenges head-on through process improvement and quality management strategies. The methodology comes with several tools that automobile companies are using to make their business processes more efficient and become highly competitive.
Here are four of those tools:
1. Root Cause Analysis (RCA)
When you encounter a problem you can either perform quick fixes to cover up its symptoms or you can identify its underlying cause and eliminate it. The former means the problem has a high probability of coming back (even stronger) while the latter means it is gone for good. Although identifying the root cause in the automotive industry can be hard, using Root Cause Analysis and its tools makes it much easier.
One of the most widely used RCA tools is the 5 Whys. When a problem has been identified in the assembly line, the automobile company puts together a team. The leader will ask “Why?” until the underlying cause has been identified. Then, the team will suggest improvements – based on available data and facts – and implement the ones they have agreed on. This will get rid of the problem once and for all.
Kaizen is a Japanese term that means “continuous improvement”. To improve the performance of manufacturing processes in the long-term through the reduction or elimination of waste, Kaizen emphasizes process improvement should not be a one-off endeavor. For automobile companies, Kaizen helps them improve processes for their assembly line by identifying problems and solving them.
3. Just in Time (JIT)
The mindset behind JIT manufacturing is simple: units should be produced when an order is received and in the right amount. That way, companies don’t just have a lot of inventory sitting in the warehouse – something that is costly and delays sales. With JIT manufacturing, all automobiles will be sold the moment they are done being assembled.
Defects are born from mistakes, and Poka-Yoke or “mistake-proofing” is meant to prevent this from happening. A good example of this in the assembly line for automobiles is the conveyor belt. If any part being manufactured turns out to be under or overweight, the conveyor belt will not accept it. This prevents this mistake from being included in the vehicle, causing a defect.
Being in the automotive industry means facing extreme competition. Organizations need all the tools they can get their hands on to succeed. Luckily, Six Sigma provides the very tools they need. There are other Six Sigma tools besides RCA, Kaizen, JIT, and Poka-Yoke that organizations can use, but these are among the most popular ones.