What is the difference between Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma?

The rising competition in business has kept business owners and managers relentlessly looking for new and more effective ideas on how to eliminate the waste of important resources in their business without compromising the quality of their products.

Some of the common managerial strategies being implemented in many organizations today, especially in the manufacturing sector, include Lean and Six Sigma. These approaches can help you reduce the waste of resources in your production processes and improve the quality of your products as well as the speed of executing these processes.

However, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of these approaches in order to implement them effectively in your organization. Therefore, training to become a Lean Six Sigma ‘Black Belt’ may be your best bet.

What Is Lean Six Sigma?

Lean Six Sigma (LSS) is a hybrid managerial approach that combines Lean and Six Sigma strategies. Managers and team leaders are required to go through LSS training to learn effective ways to improve their processes by reducing the wastage of resources and faults in their production processes.

What is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt? In Lean Six Sigma methodology, a Black Belt is a certification offered to LSS experts who have completed the highest level of Lean Six Sigma training. The Black Belt certification is the most advanced level of qualification in LSS training; the other popular LSS training program is the ‘Green Belt,’ which is an intermediate program.

Although the Green Belt program will offer you enough knowledge of the LSS strategy, it won’t give you the innovative skills required to fully implement the strategy in your company.

Recently, LSS trainers introduced another program called the ‘Yellow Belt.’ What is a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt? This is the basic introductory LSS training program intended to provide beginners with the fundamental principles of the LSS methodology. 

Lean Manufacturing Versus Six Sigma Methodology

As noted above, the LSS approach is a combination of the Lean and Six Sigma strategies. So, as a manager, you have to understand the difference between the two plans so that you can choose the one that works better for your company.

What Is Lean Manufacturing?

Lean manufacturing is the type of manufacturing that’s based on the principle of maximizing productivity while reducing wastage at every stage of the production process. This manufacturing approach uses the same strategy as the 5S system, which employs five principles to help you organize your workplace to keep it safe and enable your workers to perform their tasks safely, effectively, and quickly.

Lean manufacturing uses five key principles to identify and remove waste in your production processes to enhance your operations. The five principles include identifying value, mapping the value stream, creating flow, establishing a pull system, and attaining perfection.

The Lean strategy was developed by the Japanese automotive manufacturer Toyota in the 1940s. Through this approach, Toyota identified eight major wastes in its production processes, including unnecessary conveyance, surplus inventory, needless movement of machinery and personnel, idle personnel and machinery, overproduction, over-processing and needless features, costly defects, and unused talent.

With Lean manufacturing, you’ll save time and money, make your production processes friendly to the environment, and keep your customers satisfied. This will also help you to utilize your talent, machinery, and other important resources fully. However, Lean manufacturing doesn’t fully address the safety concerns in your organization and it’s quite difficult to rationalize.

What Is the Six Sigma Manufacturing Strategy?

The Six Sigma strategy is a manufacturing system that mainly focuses on quality control by helping you to identify and eliminate defects in your manufacturing processes. This strategy was developed by manufacturing engineers at Motorola in the 1980s.

This strategy deploys measurable metrics to determine the processes that suit your business objectives. So, you start by defining your business objectives so that you can use them to assess the effectiveness of the process improvement steps you implement.

This manufacturing approach involves four key steps: measuring, analyzing, improving, and controlling. The controlling step involves closely monitoring the improvement solutions you’re implementing to ensure they’re adding value to your processes.

Which One Is Better?

The major difference between Lean and Six Sigma manufacturing strategies is the fact that Lean focuses on ways to improve the flow while Six Sigma looks at achieving consistency in your production results.

So, each strategy has its fair share of benefits and setbacks. For example, if you want to minimize variance and risk in your manufacturing business, the Six Sigma approach is the better option. If you want to make your processes more efficient and faster, Lean is best suited for your business. This is why implementing the hybrid approach is the best option!


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