IEW’s Journey – Building Business Resilience with Six Sigma

The last four years have brought incredible turbulence to global markets, affecting small to medium-sized enterprises in ways beyond their control. From COVID-19 and Brexit to the Ukraine conflict, inflationary pressures, extended lead times for electronic components, and political uncertainties, businesses have faced numerous challenges. To navigate these storms, it’s essential to build resilience without overburdening operations with unnecessary complexity and red tape. At IEW, we’ve embraced a new culture focused on resilience, service flexibility, and digital efficiency. A significant part of this transformation involves integrating Six Sigma concepts into our daily operations.

Six Sigma: Simplifying Complexities for Efficiency

Six Sigma is a set of techniques and tools for process improvement, aimed at reducing variability and enhancing quality. At IEW, we’ve found that once these concepts are embedded, they are straightforward to use and highly effective. Veronica Pintescu, who recently completed her Six Sigma Green Belt, is leading the change by cascading this knowledge throughout the business. Her efforts are helping us identify areas for investment and elimination by distinguishing between value-add and non-value-add processes.

Kaizen and Gemba: Daily and Weekly Improvements

To embed Six Sigma principles into our culture, we’re adopting Kaizen and Gemba concepts. These practices are designed to foster continuous improvement and ensure efficient operations. Here’s how we’re implementing them:

Kaizen Weekly Efficiency Meetings

  • We hold regular weekly efficiency meetings to review our processes and identify improvement opportunities.
  • These meetings encourage all team members to participate actively, providing insights and suggestions for enhancements.
  • Outcomes from these meetings are actionable, leading to immediate or planned changes to our operations.

Gemba Daily Operations Communication

Gemba, which means “the real place,” refers to the practice of going to the actual site where work is done to observe and improve the process. We have integrated Gemba walks into our daily routine to ensure constant, on-the-ground improvements. Here’s how:

  1. Team leads and operations staff conduct daily Gemba walks across all production cells. These walks involve observing the work, engaging with team members, and identifying obstacles or areas for improvement.
  2. During the Gemba walks, we encourage open communication between team leaders, operations, and team members. This allows everyone to voice concerns, suggest improvements, and share insights on the production process.
  3. Real-Time Problem Solving. Issues identified during Gemba walks are addressed immediately when possible. For more complex problems, a plan of action is developed and communicated to the relevant team members.
  4. Insights from Gemba walks drive continuous improvement initiatives. This helps us identify root causes of inefficiencies, eliminate waste, and enhance overall productivity.

Investing in Automation for Added Value

In addition to adopting Six Sigma methodologies, we’re investing in automated production equipment. This investment not only adds value to our processes by increasing efficiency and consistency but also frees up our team to focus on more complex, value-added tasks.

A Commitment to Higher Service Levels

By integrating Gemba practices into our daily operations, we aim to create a more transparent, responsive, and efficient production environment. The participation and feedback from all team members are crucial to the success of this initiative. Our goal is to continuously improve our operations, delivering higher service levels to our customers.

At IEW, we believe that by adopting Six Sigma, Kaizen, and Gemba practices, we can build a resilient and efficient business capable of navigating the uncertainties of today’s world. We are committed to continuous improvement and excellence in all that we do, ensuring that we provide the best possible service to our customers.

About IEW Ltd:

IEW Ltd is a leading provider of innovative electronic manufacturing solutions based in Swindon, South West of England. The company offers a full assembly service for electronic and electrical products, designed to meet the specific needs of its customers. With a focus on quality and reliability, IEW has established itself as a trusted partner in the industry in the region.

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