Why B2B Lean Six Sigma Collaboration is Mutually Beneficial
I work for a manufacturing company, Click Bond, that designs and manufactures adhesive bonded fastening systems. Our biggest industry is aerospace/aviation, working with Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, as well as others. We are considered a small business with less than 500 employees, designing and manufacturing right here in the US. We live, breathe, and pride ourselves in American-made manufacturing.
Some key words in the manufacturing world are “Lean” and “Six Sigma.” Put them together and you get “Lean Six Sigma.” The broadest definition of Lean Six Sigma can be penned as “continuous improvement through the removal of waste, or non-value added functions.” It is everyone’s goal to be as lean and as efficient as possible. Therefore, Lean Six Sigma training takes place and employees are encouraged to conduct projects earning certifications, or as we call them “belts.” I currently have my Green Belt and am working on a project to earn my Black Belt.
At Click Bond, we have partnered with the Nevada National Guard to engage in training, mentoring, and certification. What is great about our B2B (business-to-business) collaboration is that both parties have something the other doesn’t, but is willing to share. Nevada National Guard has the training classes and a unique perspective from the government side of things, while we have the manufacturing perspective. Military personnel, many who have never seen a manufacturing facility, get to tour our facilities and see how we apply Lean Six Sigma. We both get to see different applications of Lean Six Sigma, allowing us to continually educate and investigate different applications of the concepts we have learned.
Recently, I was able to visit the Army National Guard Base out in Stead, NV. I was greeted by former classmates from previous training classes and given a tour of the facility, discussing projects they had completed and were currently working on. At this facility, they maintain a fleet of CH-47s and UH-60s.
I geeked out while they humored us and let us explore these incredible machines. I fly fixed wing aircraft and thoroughly enjoyed exploring something a little more foreign to me.
A great takeaway from this tour was the discussion of “just doing it.” To maintain their fleet they utilize a supply room for part inventory, orders, and shipments. The supply room was in dire need of a transformation. The process flow included a large amount of non-value added time. Through Lean Six Sigma practices, they determined the best layout for efficient turnaround of part orders and shipments. However, they hit a road block. They wanted to rearrange the racking but couldn’t because it was too tall. The racking could only be placed in a certain orientation; otherwise, it would hit the lighting system. So what did they do? They cut the tops off! Keep in mind, this is government operation. They couldn’t just order new racking, as it would have taken too long to submit a request, get approval, and then and wait to receive it. They needed a solution and they needed it immediately. They thought outside of the box and created a perfect example of “just doing it.”
I took pictures and brought them back to my teams to inspire them to take the same type of leap.
Do you have a story of “Just Doing It” to make a change in the effort of continuous improvement? Leave a comment and tell me your story!
Check back here tomorrow for Part 2 as I continue my discussion about B2B Lean Six Sigma collaboration experiences referencing other collaborations with Amazon and GE!