Lean Six Sigma Case Study - Shimadzu Medical

Lean Six Sigma Case Study Shimadzu

Shimadzu Medical, a prominent contact lens manufacturer, recognized the need to enhance its manufacturing process to stay competitive in the ever-evolving eyewear industry. Intending to improve productivity, product quality, and operational efficiency, the company embarked on a transformative journey by implementing Lean Six Sigma methodologies. This case study delves into Shimadzu Medical’s experience, highlighting how the company leveraged Lean Six Sigma principles to overcome manufacturing challenges and drive positive change.

Contact lens manufacturing is complex and intricate, demanding precision, consistency, and stringent quality control measures. Like many manufacturers, Shimadzu Medical faced several hurdles that affected their production and overall performance. Inconsistent product quality, prolonged lead times, and high defect rates had a detrimental impact on the company’s reputation, customer satisfaction, and bottom line.

To address these challenges head-on, Shimadzu Medical recognized the potential of Lean Six Sigma—an integrated approach combining Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma principles. Lean focuses on eliminating waste, streamlining processes, and optimizing resource utilization, while Six Sigma emphasizes data-driven decision-making, process variation reduction, and continuous improvement. By blending these methodologies, Shimadzu Medical aimed to enhance efficiency, minimize defects, and deliver exceptional products that met or exceeded customer expectations.

The implementation of Lean Six Sigma required a strategic and collaborative approach. Shimadzu Medical formed a cross-functional team comprising experts from various departments, bringing together diverse perspectives and expertise. This multidisciplinary team underwent comprehensive Lean Six Sigma training to equip themselves with the tools, techniques, and knowledge to drive process improvements effectively.

By adopting Lean Six Sigma, Shimadzu Medical sought to achieve several objectives. First and foremost, they aimed to streamline their manufacturing process to eliminate bottlenecks, reduce cycle times, and enhance overall efficiency. The company also sought to improve product quality and reduce defects by implementing robust quality control measures and process standardization. Additionally, Shimadzu Medical aimed to optimize its resource utilization, minimizing waste and maximizing productivity throughout the production cycle.

This case study delves into the various phases of Shimadzu Medical’s Lean Six Sigma implementation. It showcases how they applied the principles to identify process inefficiencies, analyze root causes, develop practical solutions, and sustain the improvements achieved. By highlighting the outcomes and benefits obtained through this initiative, this case study serves as a testament to the transformative power of Lean Six Sigma in the context of contact lens manufacturing.

Ultimately, Shimadzu Medical’s commitment to Lean Six Sigma allowed them to overcome manufacturing challenges, enhance their competitive position, and deliver high-quality contact lenses that meet the needs and expectations of their customers. Their experience serves as a useful example for organizations in similar industries seeking to optimize their manufacturing processes by adopting Lean Six Sigma principles.


The primary objectives of this case study are as follows:

  1. Explore the challenges faced by Shimadzu Medical in contact lens manufacturing.
  2. Demonstrate how Lean Six Sigma principles were employed to address these challenges.
  3. Analyze the outcomes and benefits achieved through the Lean Six Sigma implementation.
  4. Highlight the lessons learned and key takeaways from Shimadzu Medical’s experience.


Shimadzu Medical initiated the Lean Six Sigma implementation process by assembling a cross-functional team comprising representatives from various departments, including manufacturing, quality assurance, research and development, and operations. The team underwent comprehensive Lean Six Sigma training to understand the methodologies and tools thoroughly.

Presentation of the Case: Shimadzu Medical faced several challenges in its contact lens manufacturing process, including inconsistent product quality, long lead times, and high defect rates. These issues resulted in increased costs, customer complaints, and decreased customer satisfaction. To address these challenges, the company decided to implement Lean Six Sigma principles.

Shimadzu Medical approached the implementation of Lean Six Sigma with a systematic and structured methodology. The following steps were undertaken to ensure a successful transformation of their contact lens manufacturing process:

  1. Formation of a Cross-Functional Team: Shimadzu Medical assembled a cross-functional team comprising representatives from various departments, including manufacturing, quality assurance, research and development, and operations. This team was responsible for driving the Lean Six Sigma implementation process. By including individuals from different areas of expertise, the team could bring diverse perspectives, insights, and knowledge to the table.
  2. Lean Six Sigma Training: Shimadzu Medical provided comprehensive training to equip the team with the necessary skills and understanding of Lean Six Sigma methodologies. This training familiarized the team members with the core principles, tools, and techniques of Lean Six Sigma. They gained proficiency in concepts such as value stream mapping, root cause analysis, process mapping, statistical process control, and continuous improvement methodologies.
  3. Define Phase: In the define phase, the team focused on clearly defining the scope and objectives of the Lean Six Sigma project. They conducted an in-depth analysis of the existing manufacturing process and identified the key challenges and pain points. This phase also involved understanding customer requirements and defining measurable KPIs to track progress and success throughout the implementation.
  4. Measure Phase: In this phase, the team focused on collecting relevant data to gain insights into the performance of the manufacturing process. They employed data collection tools to capture process metrics, defect rates, cycle times, and customer feedback. By leveraging statistical techniques, they were able to establish a baseline performance for the process and identify areas that required improvement.
  5. Analyze Phase: The analyze phase involved a detailed examination of the collected data to identify patterns, trends, and root causes of process inefficiencies and defects. Techniques such as process mapping, value stream mapping, and root cause analysis were employed to understand the flow of materials, identify waste, and pinpoint areas for improvement. The team utilized statistical analysis to prioritize improvement opportunities and better understand the factors contributing to process variations.
  6. Improve Phase: In this phase, the team developed and implemented solutions to address the identified issues and drive process improvement. They applied Lean Six Sigma principles to streamline workflows, eliminate waste, and optimize resource utilization. Standardized work instructions were developed and implemented to ensure consistency and reduce process variations. Continuous improvement methodologies, such as Kaizen events, were used to drive incremental improvements throughout the manufacturing process.
  7. Control Phase: The control phase aimed to sustain improvements and ensure long-term success. The team established control mechanisms to monitor the performance of the manufacturing process and maintain the implemented changes. Statistical process control (SPC) charts and other monitoring tools were utilized to detect any deviations from the desired performance and trigger corrective actions when necessary. Regular audits and reviews were conducted to ensure ongoing adherence to quality standards and continuous improvement practices.

Solutions and Recommendations:

Shimadzu Medical’s Lean Six Sigma implementation significantly improved its contact lens manufacturing process. Key solutions and recommendations included:

  1. Redesigning the layout and workflow to minimize material and personnel movement, reducing lead times and improving efficiency.
  2. Implementing standardized work instructions and training programs to ensure consistent processes and reduce variation.
  3. Enhancing quality control measures through the implementation of statistical process control techniques, leading to a reduction in defects and enhanced product quality.
  4. Establish regular communication channels and feedback loops with customers to accurately identify their needs and expectations.

Results and Outcomes:

Implementing Lean Six Sigma at Shimadzu Medical resulted in significant improvements across various aspects of their contact lens manufacturing process. The outcomes achieved showcased the effectiveness of Lean Six Sigma methodologies in driving positive change and delivering tangible benefits. The following are the notable results and outcomes:

  1. Reduction in Defects: By applying Lean Six Sigma principles, Shimadzu Medical successfully reduced defects in its contact lens manufacturing process. The implementation of robust quality control measures, process standardization, and statistical process control techniques contributed to a 40% decrease in defects. This improvement led to enhanced product quality and increased customer satisfaction, as the number of faulty lenses reaching customers significantly decreased.
  2. Decreased Lead Times: The Lean Six Sigma initiatives resulted in a remarkable 30% reduction in lead times. Shimadzu Medical improved the speed and efficiency of its manufacturing process by streamlining workflows, optimizing resource allocation, and minimizing process inefficiencies. The reduced lead times allowed for faster order fulfillment, improved on-time delivery performance, and increased customer responsiveness.
  3. Improved Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE): Through the Lean Six Sigma implementation, Shimadzu Medical achieved a 25% increase in overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). The company maximized manufacturing efficiency and productivity by optimizing equipment utilization, minimizing downtime, and reducing changeover times. The improved OEE contributed to higher production output and better resource utilization.
  4. Cost Savings: The Lean Six Sigma initiatives at Shimadzu Medical resulted in cost savings of approximately 15%. The company reduced unnecessary expenses by eliminating waste, optimizing process flow, and enhancing resource utilization. This reduction in costs positively impacted the company’s financial performance, improving profitability and competitiveness in the market.
  5. Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: The improvements made through Lean Six Sigma implementation directly impacted customer satisfaction. With the reduction in defects, faster delivery times, and higher product quality, Shimadzu Medical was able to meet or exceed customer expectations. This improvement in customer satisfaction strengthened their market position, fostered customer loyalty, and contributed to positive word-of-mouth referrals.
  6. Culture of Continuous Improvement: One of the key outcomes of the Lean Six Sigma implementation was the development of a culture of continuous improvement within Shimadzu Medical. The systematic and structured approach of Lean Six Sigma, coupled with ongoing training and engagement of employees, instilled a mindset of seeking opportunities for improvement in all aspects of the organization. This culture of continuous improvement ensures that the company can sustain and build upon the achieved results in the long run.


The results and outcomes achieved by Shimadzu Medical through the implementation of Lean Six Sigma underscore the value and impact of applying these methodologies in contact lens manufacturing. The combination of waste reduction, improved quality control, optimized processes, and enhanced customer satisfaction contributed to the company’s growth, competitiveness, and overall operational excellence.

Lessons Learned:

Shimadzu Medical’s journey of implementing Lean Six Sigma in its contact lens manufacturing process provided valuable lessons that can be applied to similar improvement initiatives. The following lessons learned highlight key insights gained from their experience:

  1. Cross-Functional Collaboration: The success of Lean Six Sigma implementation relies heavily on cross-functional collaboration and involvement. Shimadzu Medical recognized the importance of engaging representatives from different departments in the improvement process. This collaborative approach ensured that diverse perspectives and expertise were considered, leading to comprehensive problem-solving and holistic process improvements.
  2. Data-Driven Decision Making: The effective use of data is a fundamental aspect of Lean Six Sigma [see Black Belt Body of Knowledge]. Shimadzu Medical realized the significance of collecting accurate and relevant data to drive decision-making. By leveraging data analysis tools and techniques, the company was able to identify root causes, measure performance, and prioritize improvement opportunities based on facts rather than assumptions. The emphasis on data-driven decision-making helped gain a deeper understanding of the process and make more informed choices.
  3. Continuous Training and Development: The journey of Lean Six Sigma is an ongoing process that requires continuous training and development. Shimadzu Medical ensured that their team members received comprehensive training in Lean Six Sigma methodologies and tools. This investment in training equipped the team with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify improvement opportunities, analyze data, and implement sustainable changes. The commitment to continuous learning and development enabled the team to drive continuous improvement and adapt to changing circumstances.
  4. Standardization and Process Control: Standardization played a crucial role in Shimadzu Medical’s Lean Six Sigma journey. Establishing standardized work instructions, operating procedures, and quality control measures helped reduce process variations and enhance consistency. The implementation of statistical process control techniques enabled real-time monitoring and control of the manufacturing process, ensuring adherence to quality standards and early detection of potential issues.
  5. Change Management and Employee Engagement: Successful Lean Six Sigma implementation requires effective change management and employee engagement. Shimadzu Medical recognized the importance of clear communication, involving employees in the improvement process, and addressing their concerns and feedback. By fostering a culture of employee engagement, the company gained valuable insights and ideas from the front-line workers, driving a sense of ownership and commitment to the improvement initiatives.
  6. Sustaining and Embedding Continuous Improvement: The improvements achieved through Lean Six Sigma are critical for long-term success. Shimadzu Medical emphasized the need for ongoing monitoring, measurement, and control to ensure that the implemented changes were sustained. Regular reviews, audits, and performance metrics helped monitor the process’s stability and identify opportunities for further improvement. By embedding a culture of continuous improvement, the company ensured that the gains made through Lean Six Sigma were not temporary but formed an integral part of its operations.

These lessons learned from Shimadzu Medical’s experience provide valuable insights for organizations embarking on Lean Six Sigma journeys. By embracing cross-functional collaboration, data-driven decision-making, ongoing training, standardization, employee engagement, and sustainable improvement practices, organizations can maximize the benefits of Lean Six Sigma and drive significant improvements in their manufacturing processes and overall performance.


Shimadzu Medical’s successful application of Lean Six Sigma principles in its contact lens manufacturing process resulted in significant improvements in quality, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. The company achieved tangible benefits by eliminating waste, optimizing workflows, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. This case study inspires other organizations seeking to enhance their manufacturing processes using Lean Six Sigma methodologies.


Please note that the case study presented above about Shimadzu Medical and their implementation of Lean Six Sigma in contact lens manufacturing is a simulated scenario created for illustrative purposes. While the case study aims to demonstrate the potential benefits and application of Lean Six Sigma methodologies in a manufacturing setting, it should not be taken as a factual account of Shimadzu Medical’s actual experiences or practices. The information presented in this case study is purely for educational and illustrative purposes to showcase the concepts and principles of Lean Six Sigma.