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Jul 9, 2012

Steps to Improving Cycle Time

Step 1-Define the Needs of the Customer Any customer or client-based business should understand that the overall success or failure of their endeavor relies almost entirely on how well they can satisfy the needs of the customer or client. One of the many goals of the Six Sigma Methodology is a happy client. Whether a business is product or service based, all customers have expectations about how they should be serviced or how their products should be manufactured. Defining the needs of the customer is important when trying to improve cycle time as nothing should be compromised that is necessary to meet customer requirements. For example, it would be unwise to skip a specific manufacturing procedure to save time when the procedure itself is what brings an item on an assembly line within the target specs designated by the customer. Step 2- Identify Problem Areas Once you have a clear understanding of which areas of a process are absolutely essential for meeting customer demand, you probably also have a general idea of which parts of a process might not be as important. Granted, every stop on an assembly line serves some sort of constructive purpose, but it is often the case that two or three steps in a procedure can be abbreviated or combined to save time and cut back on costs. Step 3-Eliminate Undesirable Aspects of Production Once the problem areas have been identified, considerations can begin being made about removing these problems from production. As previously stated, it isn't uncommon for tasks to simply be combined or altered in some minor way. However, it is of great importance that attention is paid to how removing or changing any aspect of production will result in a change in the overall efficiency and output variation of the process in question. An improvement in cycle time is important to achieve, but not at the expense of the entire company! Step 4-Test for Efficiency After actual Six Sigma changes have been put in place, steadily monitoring the process is crucial. Even with modern day dashboards and data processing, it is possible that a change in production methods - even if intended to be beneficial - could result in a higher percentage of defective finished products. As soon as it can be determined that the process is indeed stable, monitoring can become more casual.