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Quality Quandaries: Improving the Overall Equipment Effectiveness at a Pharmaceutical Company

Summary: This article provides a case study of a Lean Six Sigma project on equipment effectiveness in a pharmaceutical company. There was a great sense of urgency to enhance effectiveness, due to a planned closedown of a major production site. The project manager was a Lean Six Sigma black belt. Core principles of Lean Six Sigma and its define-measure-analyze-improve-control (DMAIC) roadmap, such as problem structuring with the help of the critical-to-quality characteristics (CTQ) flowdown and a thorough analysis of the problem, helped a great deal to find effective improvements. Key principles such as the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), bottleneck analysis, single-minute exchange of die, and a sort-straighten-scrub-standardize-sustain (5S) waste reduction approach were implemented to achieve an increase in production. The black belt improved the effectiveness of the machines by approximately 16%, leading to monetary benefits reaching up to 2 million euros each year. The process was made manageable by implementing dashboards. These dashboards provide updates on a daily basis on the effectiveness and the current status of each batch at the production site. This visual management system helped to secure the new production levels at the pharmaceutical company.

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  • Topics: Six Sigma
  • Keywords: Case study, Pharmaceutical industry, Lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, DMAIC, Effectiveness, Equipment, Bottlenecks, 5 S (visual workplace), Critical values
  • Author: Kuiper, Alex; van Raalte, Michiel; Does, Ronald J.M.M.;
  • Journal: Quality Engineering