Strengthening the Supply Chain
When PolyOne Corporation's management recognized the need for leaner operations, they took action to focus the company's supply chain efforts.
For several years, rather than launching one companywide effort, management teams in three different regions each hired separate consulting firms to provide counsel on lean deployment. Neither group knew what the other was doing. The triplicate costs of the disparate efforts underscored the need for change.
In early 2008, the company began applying LSS techniques to its manufacturing footprint analysis, and in August 2008 it launched a project to focus on inventory management and working capital improvement. Initially, employee interest in LSS was minimal, but early successes with those projects and with an LSS-driven manufacturing realignment quickly pushed up enrollment in Six Sigma training.
In 2009, 600 associates underwent training. By the end of 2010, the company expects more than 25 percent, or 975, of its 3,900 associates worldwide to have completed training and 1 percent to have earned Black Belt certification. PolyOneÕs second class of Black Belts began formal training in January and the company's first class of Master Black Belts entered training in March of this year.
LSS techniques were applied to nearly 100 process improvement projects in 2009, and the company expects to tackle nearly 200 projects this year. While not all the projects have been related to the supply chain, LSS efforts have resulted in improvements in inventory management, on-time delivery, and other key goals.
PolyOne and Six Sigma's highest honor
In January 2010, the LSS deployment paid off in another way. The International Quality and Productivity Centre presented PolyOne with the Process Excellence Award for "Best Start-up Program" during its 11th Annual Lean Six Sigma and Process Improvement Summit in Orlando, Florida. The award is considered to be the most prestigious in the world for LSS, and PolyOne was selected from a pool of 400 entrants.
"To us it is much more than just an award, it's a statement about the new PolyOne, and it symbolizes how we have changed our corporate culture. We have made voice of the customer the basis for our competitive differentiation and strategic execution, and LSS has helped in driving change and bringing rigor, discipline and accountability into our organization," said Stephen D. Newlin, PolyOne president, chairman and chief executive officer.