How long have you been using process improvement methodology? Within your current organization?
I have been involved in continuous improvement efforts for nearly 20 years, beginning with my time in the automotive industry and continuing in a variety of manufacturing settings. The Safariland Group embraces lean and it has been a part of my entire seven years with this company.
What is one myth about Lean Six Sigma that isn’t true?
That it always involves long term, deep statistical analysis. It is good to have the statistical background when required but many financially lucrative projects can be completed using primarily lean tools and in a relatively short time frame.
What is one of the biggest cost savings you’ve found using process improvement methodologies?
I completed a project that resulted in $400k annual savings simply by rejecting the need for specialized nesting of CNC processed parts.
What types of projects has your organization used for process improvement?
We generally focus on projects that will improve efficiency and result in a positive hit to the bottom line. Examples would include reducing labor hours, eliminating excessive movement/processing, and cutting waste/scrap.
What is one barrier that your organization faced when deploying process improvement?
There is a tendency to think that Lean Six Sigma is a manufacturing tool. I feel that there are huge opportunities for improvement using LSS within the transactional functions and support teams.
Share one piece of advice for organizations that are considering deploying lean six sigma.
Make sure that EVERYONE is trained up to a level that meets the needs of their particular job requirements. LSS is not a tool for some – it is a mindset that must be ingrained within the company DNA. It is equally important for the hourly associates and the CEO to be fully conversant in the implementation of LSS at their appropriate levels.
What is your go-to Lean Six Sigma tool? Why?
I have three. Control charts, Paretos and hypothesis testing.
Has technology changed how process is done since you’ve first started using it?
I started out using a calculator – calculating standard deviation and such manually. You had to love statistics to stick with it back then. Excel made things a lot easier – creating formulae, pivot charts and graphing capabilities. Minitab has been the one technological advance that has really turbocharged this process – especially when it comes to hypothesis testing, design of experiments, and the like.
Over the number of years that you’ve been utilizing process improvement, what would you consider a low-hanging fruit project that anyone could benefit from? Would it have quick results within an organization just starting their process improvement journey?
Value Stream Map all your processes to establish a baseline current state. You will get so many project ideas just by performing this and you will also gain valuable insight into process interactions – how your company really works.
Are there trends within process improvement to watch over the next year? Next five years?
Apps for iPhone and iPad (also PC-based tablets and Android phones) offer a huge potential in bringing process improvement to the masses and creating a greater population of process improvement practitioners within the workforce.
What advice would you give someone who is considering a UNF Continuing Education process improvement program?
Go for it. The courses offer a tremendous opportunity to expand your capabilities. Just be sure to match your current skills to the course offered. For example, a Black Belt course demands a high level of statistical skills so be realistic when you compare your skillset to the course requirements. A Green Belt course is more lean focused and probably caters to a larger segment of the general population. My experience there was great. Excellent learning environment, solid curriculum, exceptional instructors – all at a very reasonable price.
Bruce Newman is currently in the role of Regional Director, Quality Assurance with The Safariland Group, the largest domestic manufacturer of soft body armor and protective equipment. Supplemental product lines include firearms accessories and forensics supplies. Primary customers are law enforcement, government agencies, and the military.
Bruce has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and is an ASQ Certified Quality Auditor. He received his Lean Six Sigma Black Belt from UNF Division of Continuing Education. Professional experience includes 25 years in the automotive industry with suppliers to all major domestic and import companies, one year with a major yacht company, and three years in the tissue bank/medical device industry.
Bruce has been an active member of ASQ and Section 1506 since 1994 and a board member since 2009.
He lives in Jacksonville with his wife of 20 years and their three girls. He also has a son living in St. Augustine after serving in the US Navy. Bruce spent three years living in Costa Rica and Bolivia as the son of missionary parents. He enjoys traveling with the family and photography. Bruce is a lifelong fan of the Florida Gators.
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