Reducing The Cost of Product and Service Complexity

Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Design for Lean Six Sigma | 0 comments

The complexity of products and services is something that needs constant attention.  Different versions, options, offerings, etc. add confusion, cost, and waste to any business process.  Most commonly the waste is in the form of increased work in process (WIP), increased inventory, and increased processing and defects.

Companies that want to reduce complexity generally have two options, either to standardize by using Design for Lean Six Sigma (DFLSS) or by applying the tools of Lean Six Sigma and trying to become more efficient and flexible.

Countless examples of standardization can be found.  It has been said that the success of Southwest Airlines can partially be contributed to the fact that they have one airplane.  This has numerous benefits that include lower spare parts inventory, easier airport terminal access, common maintenance practices, greater pilot flexibility, etc.  American airlines, on the other hand, had at least 14 types of aircraft at one time.  They have since reduced the number to 7.

The tools of Lean Six Sigma can be used to reduce waste in the current processes and make them more efficient and flexible.  Setup reduction and defect and error prevention can be applied to a reduced number of tasks.  When offerings aren’t profitable contributors, they must be optimized out of the mix.

Complexity reduction can have enormous competitive advantage and can be a potent tool to increase customer value.


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