Inside View

Zofingen: Siegfried’s First Generation of Black Belts

Main topics and historical development of Business Exellence

Black Belts in training (from left): Jamie Osborne (Pennsville), Joanna Lach (Hameln), Michael Steffen (Zofingen), Ralf S. Hoss (Zofingen), Marcel Fischer (Zofingen), Desislava Ivanova Muscat (Malta)

Three kinds of projects and trainings

Have you ever tried googling “Black Belt”? You’ll get about 18.8 million search results. In addition to terms such as “Region in North America” or “Carrier of a black belt in Asian martial arts” there is a vast number of links for “Lean Six Sigma”. Lean Six Sigma is about simple and reliable processes, be it in management or ­operations, and is composed of the terms six sigma (statistics: the reduction of variants) and lean (processes: the avoidance of waste). A core element refers to description, measurement, analysis, improvement and monitoring of production processes or business procedures by statistical means. In this regard, the DMAIC (Define – Measure – Analyze – Improve – Control) method is often used. The goals are focused on the company’s major parameters and customer needs. 

Today, numerous companies work with Lean Six Sigma – not only in the production industry but also in the services sector. Many of these organizations expect their suppliers to provide verification concerning Six Sigma quality in the production processes.

Siegfried introduced TOP projects as early as 2013 not least owing to a need for more efficient processes. Siegfried’s first Lean Six Sigma training course was started in 2014. The course distinguished between three levels that essentially differ in project size or savings potential. So far, four generations of Green Belts and numerous Yellow Belts have been trained, and they proved themselves by sparking off substantial savings. 

The basis of Green Belt training is getting acquainted with standardized and field-tested tools with potential application in individual DMAIC project phases. The aim is to identify and assess potential for improvement within the parameters of a fact and data-based analysis of a process. Keeping in mind the Pareto principle, the aim is to obtain the largest possible benefit with as little effort as possible. In other words, which factors have the biggest impact on the process in question and should therefore be given priority. Having been tested in a pilot phase, the new process is handed over to the process owner sub-
sequent to the final phase. Sustainability of improvements is monitored by means of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

In a further step, Siegfried started training the first generation of Black Belts in October 2017. The training was supported and coordinated by external certified consultants. 

The qualification program is based on 20 days of training, the successful completion of at least two projects and a savings potential of 300 000 Swiss francs or more. The training course will be completed end 2018 or beginning 2019, depending on the duration of the individual projects. 

Moreover, the participants participate in the field of business excellence with up to 30% of their working time. Black Belts are active as improvement experts and take on project management tasks as they enjoy in-depth knowledge of the application of various Six Sigma methods.