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Lean And Six Sigma Practices In Production Environment

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Lean and Six Sigma is a method which is focused towards improving quality, reducing variation and eliminating waste in an organization. Six Sigma is a data driven philosophy used to set business objectives and measures performance in a way that forces management decision and accountability. “It does not allow management team to be complacent, but rather it exposes waste that otherwise would remain invisible.” In context of this research it has been vital to apply six sigma method to measure inadequacies as well as to suggest improvement to the management. In context of ASML, when addressing FOUPs and reticle handling operations Six Sigma method will be used to identify process variation and compare the process capability with the existing specifications. Sometimes flaws and defects in a product are not the main problem, but delivery times can be the major problem.

Lean is a powerful method which can transform organizations, lean is much more than set of tools, it is simply a different way of working. The aim of this research is to identify waste in the FOUPs and reticle handling operations, by reducing waste and identifying root causes “value” will be delivered to the stakeholder. According to lean waste can be categorized into three categorized as Muda (non-value add operations), Muri (overburdening operators or machines), Mura (unevenness in an operation or variation). It has been observed that in most cases these three wastes are related to each other, thus eliminating one waste could potentially eliminate others.

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Lean and Six sigma can be used in combination of each other, as Lean focuses on reducing waste and Six Sigma on reducing variation. These two methods in combination of each other can help organization to become more successful as well as efficient. Lean and six sigma application can be applied to make material handling more efficient also these methods can help reducing process waste in material handling operations. In lean, non-value add activities has been described as muda which is an activity that consumes resources without adding value for the customer. There are eight types of muda (waste) which are commonly known as TIMWOODS namely transport, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, over processing, defect, and skills. Material handling can also be categorized as a non-value add activity. However, it is an unavoidable activity in many production environments, therefore efforts must be made to make it as efficient as possible in other words free of “waste”.

Material Handling is a vital and important element of any production environment. It involves the following aspects, providing the right amount of material, in right condition, at right place, at right time, in right place and right cost. Material handling does not add value to the end product, however it adds to the cost of production. To keep the product cost as low as possible material handling and its costs must be minimized in any production environment. Poor material handling often results in machine downtime. In current scenario organizations are facing challenges in the area of material handling as the labor costs are increasing, therefore it is necessary to ensure that material handling operations are as efficient as possible.

Just-in-time is an exercise of timing inbound material flows so that they can arrive in time when there is demand. A good JIT system in material handling requires close coordination amongst operators and material transporters. Key concept of JIT system is to implement a pull material handling system where the right product is delivered at right place in right time and quantity.

Lean is a broad subject that describes a complete and sustainable approach to use less of everything to be able to reduce waste. Lean is a business strategy which is based on satisfying the customer by delivering quality products and services. Lean practice enable organizations to reduce its development cycles, produce high quality products efficiently and at lower cost. “Lean is a continuous, evolutionary process of change and adaptation, not a singular, idealized or technology driven goal state.” In semiconductor production environment multiple products are manufactured at the same time, this means different wafers and reticle are require frequently to expose each layer of wafer. Also to meet demand of fast changeovers frequent pickup and delivery of wafers and reticles is required. Adding more employees to meet this demand overthrows the efficient use of operators. It also means more employees in the cleanroom which can add more contamination. Clean environments are required for manufacturing modern integrated circuits. “Wafer processing in the semiconductor industry is a demanding process as it requires cleanliness, due to sub-micron dimensions of modern semiconductor devices.” To reduce dependency on human labor and to increase efficiency automated material handling can be an alternative. Industrial AGV’s can serve three purposes reduce costs, improve workplace safety and improve product yield through cleanliness. “The requirement for extreme cleanliness separates semiconductor manufacturing from other industries.”

Self-driving AGV’s have become an industry trend, also used in various semiconductor fabs, self-driving AGV’s are not bound to a fixed path. These vehicles can be programmed with multiple routes and can easily adapt to changing situations. So in case of human interface, an AGV will go around or modify its path to ensure on-time delivery. The navigation system is entirely done by a software, therefore in case of changes to facility layout an AGV can easily be reprogramed.

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