Lean Manufacturing vs Six Sigma & Benefits of Integrating Six Sigma

Lean Manufacturing Production

The terms sound unfamiliar, isn’t it? If it is so, don’t worry, you are not the only one. There are many professionals out there who ask what this LEAN Six Sigma manufacturing is?

Lean, Six Sigma manufacturing are two different toolkits, which aim to reduce waste in different business processes. There is some controversy between the two, but both are proven concepts, and saved their clients so much money.

Both processes are closely related. Both of these strategies were developed by big business companies; the aim was to reduce or eliminate to the maximum possible extent, the manufacturing excess.

The primary difference between the two is that the Lean manufacturing is a methodology used to eliminate waste, while Six Sigma is used to eliminate defects.

The detailed explanation of the two is very vast to cover in a page article, but we are presenting here the basics of both the strategies.

Six Sigma Vs Lean manufacturing

The focus of Sig Sigma is to eliminate the problems related with the products manufactured. Motorola, USA designed this strategy in the Year 1981. This strategy primarily focuses on the customer. It focuses on the customer satisfaction, as they believe in the old saying “if the customer ain’t satisfied, ain’t nobody satisfied”. The defects that they identify to eliminate, are those what the customer does not want to have in the products, or as the products.

Six Sigma has two main objectives:

  1. To improve the current process and/or product.
  2. Creating new processes, those are better suited to eliminate the defects.

These two goals are inter-related, and it is very much possible for a company to change the current defective processes, or defect in the processes, and at the same time implement new ones.

Lean manufacturing primary focus is to eliminate the waste in the manufacturing process. This strategy was developed by Toyota. Unlike, Six Sigma the aim of this process in not outward, to the customer, but inward, towards the company expenditures. The goal is to reduce the price.

Lean manufacturing works on different levels. The process of manufacturing is considered, for instance, flow of materials, process flexibility and its automation. Raw materials are also considered including cost of materials. It tries to reduce the use of raw materials in excess whether human or natural.

Commons in Lean Six Sigma manufacturing

If you are in the manufacturing business, you may want to incorporate some processes of each of the two strategies. If you reduce waste, you can keep the costs down, also for yourself and also for your customer; and by reducing defects, your customers would be pleased to have a perfect product. This would result in reducing the wastes in your own repair and warranty department too.

Benefits of Integrating Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing

Six Sigma is the most common improvement tool for businesses. Combined with lean manufacturing to form lean Six Sigma, it helps businesses achieve great results. Integrating the two can bring out very powerful and methodical tools that facilitate minimizing wastage of efforts taken on the development of ideas that may not be justified.

At the same time, Lean manufacturing provides some good improvement tools that fit into the Improve phase of Six Sigma. The integrated approach has the advantages of both the methodologies and is ideal for manufacturing business that aims at the elimination of waste and higher productivity. If you want to learn lean six sigma and want to become certified, Purdue University offers Online Lean Six Sigma Certification Program.

Improved Quality and Reduced Defects

With the elimination of batch or lot production and concentrating on one product at a time, efficiency in operations goes up. With the batch being of a single item, the cost on storing, moving, handling is reduced.

If a defect is identified in a single item, then the corrective step can be taken and defects can be eliminated in further batches. A quick analysis to understand if standard processes were followed can be undertaken and corrective measures implemented.

Reduced Waste

The Lean way eliminates batch production wherein the possibility of defects is high. With reduced defects the wastage of raw material and other products is reduced.

It is not just the elimination of waste in production, but also the elimination of the time wasted on unproductive activities and tasks. The focus is on meeting the demands of the customer.

Improved Productivity

By applying Lean manufacturing, there are proven improvements in productivity. This is the result of the time and effort of employees that manufacture items according to demand, without distractions and disturbances by objects in the workplace.

Reduced Inventory

This integrated approach helps bring about a reduction in inventory. This is because inventory maintenance systems are such that production of goods is done in tandem with demand, and excessive production is avoided.

Additionally, it also helps to reduce the inventory carrying costs. With a smaller product batch production and storage, defects can be easily identified and eliminated. With Lean manufacturing, the manufacturing costs drop and improved inventory management allows for more floor space.


Customer demands are ever changing. With Lean manufacturing, greater flexibility can be achieved. This is because product life cycles are shorter, which allows businesses to respond more quickly to market changes.

Safe Work Environment

The last but not least, the integration of Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing helps brings about safer ways for storing and movement. With fewer inventory, there is reduced clutter and an opportunity to improve equipment layout.

With a standard set of processes, employees are aware of the location of things they need and do not have to move around unnecessarily, which gives rise to the possibility of accidents. The overall morale of the employees is improved, as immediate feedback is possible on production.