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Systems rarely perform exactly as predicted.
This is the opening line from a Predicting Process Variability blog. It is also, according to the blog, “the driving force behind most improvement projects.”
Because variability is inherent in all processes, regardless if you work in manufacturing or at a bank, there will always be some amount of waste. However, without waste, you could eliminate overtime, lost sales, errors, long lead times, and so many other factors that lead to increased costs.
In the perfect Lean Six Sigma environment, variability and defects would be eliminated. While there are no perfect work environments, a process simulation tool can aid you by visually showing how work moves through a process, thereby allowing you to validate the data collected.
A good simulation application takes into account process variation, uncertainties, and interdependencies, and allows you to:
- test alternative solutions quickly and easily with little risk
- remove subjectivity from the equation and emotion from the decision making
- sell others on the best solutions
- reuse models, thereby increasing continuous improvement
- consider the impact on customers
Simulation is useful when:
- It is too expensive or risky to do live tests. Simulation offers an inexpensive, risk-free way to test changes.
- Large or complex systems are under consideration. Better to get an objective analysis than make a SWAG (Scientific Wild-Ass Guess).
- Predicting process variability is important. Simulation can point out how various components interact and affect overall system performance.
- You have incomplete data. The right detailed model can help identify important missing data.
- You need to communicate ideas. It allows participants to communicate better because they have a better understanding of the system.
Combining Lean Six Sigma with simulation software helps you to understand the impact of recommended process changes and enables you to make resource adjustments, perform experiments, and analyze and modify processes to determine the best practices for your business.