Lean Six Sigma and Continuous Improvement

 

Since 1939, Murphy-branded products have been built on a foundation of quality. In order to ensure that our products hold true to our quality promise, we have incorporated many practices into our manufacturing processes. Continuous improvement techniques grounded in Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma principles are core to these practices.

Lean Manufacturing focuses on “eliminating waste and optimizing flow in manufacturing and transactional processes,” while Six Sigma addresses the process of “reducing variation and increasing the number of defect-free products and services provided” (Lean Six Sigma). Lean Six Sigma is a combination of the two practices, and when utilized together, are part of the operational excellence tool kit.

To achieve operational excellence, we have made substantial investments in process automation in our SMT (Surface Mount Technology) operation, provided Lean Six Sigma training for our employees and incorporated our company core values of Question Everything and Challenge Convention in every project we do.       

The Lean Six Sigma certifications fall into four different skill level categories, starting with Yellow Belt, and going up the pyramid with Green Belt, Black Belt and then the highest certification: Master Black Belt. Employees with a Master Black Belt certification are able to coach, consult, and lead projects based on the Lean Six Sigma principles (Six Sigma Global Institute).  

Our Director of Operations Brandon Beaird, a certified Master Black Belt, has over 17 years of experience with Lean Six Sigma practices.

“The goal is to have the best in class, out-of-box quality and delivery to ensure we always clear a path for our customers," said Beaird.

We have actively incorporated Lean Six Sigma in our training curriculum since 2008 and currently have four certified Black Belts in the organization.

In a previous Distributor Spotlight for Lynch Fluid Controls, Marketing Specialist Pavi Ranasingha recognizes how these practices have cleared a path and made a positive impact in their experience with Enovation Controls products.

“When we promote Murphy products to our customers, we emphasize the quality standards of these products,” said Ranasingha. “The displays are hermetically sealed and have been tested to withstand all types of weather and impact.”

One of the many ways our core values help us keep our quality in check is by encouraging employees to Question Everything. In every project, situation and everyday tasks in our work, “We embrace a healthy sense of paranoia in which quality and performance must be proven and never assumed.…we hold each other accountable to the highest standards and will not rest without a solution.” As a part of our goal for operational excellence, employees are empowered to speak up when a product on the line has any defects or is not up to our quality standards.

We have deployed many best practices in final assembly to ensure the quality of our products: product serialization (top level & component level), IP67 leak testing and electrical functioning testing, automated test data capture against products’ serial numbers via an MES database architecture and test data validation at the end of the line that is required for shipping labels. Upstream, we have implemented process controls & automation in SMT via 3D Solder Paste Inspection and 3D AOI in addition to implementation of selective solder automation in our PCBA secondary operations.

Our investments in process technology continue as we work to bring robotics and pick-by-light capabilities into our final assembly processes. All of these activities are driven by LSS principles as we seek to tackle sources of waste and variation in our manufacturing processes. These investments in automation are complemented by Standard Work and Visual Factory best practices to ensure good process management.

Our Vice President of Operations Rick Martich, a Certified Black Belt, has over 20 years of experience with Lean Six Sigma practices.

“We live out core value of Question Everything to Cultivate Excellence every day. Central to this value is a healthy paranoia in which our quality and performance must be proven and never assumed,” said Martich. “Our customers depend on us holding ourselves to this standard, and LSS is part of the tool kit we use to cultivate a culture of ownership and excellence. This is all part of our larger purpose of Conquering Complexity for our customers.”