Six Sigma Yellow Belt Interview – Paul Garrett

MSI recently sat down with Paul Garrett, who is an MSI certified Six Sigma Yellow Belt.  Paul was registered for the Yellow Belt through his organization, who is contracted with MSI to provide training and testing for Six Sigma.  The company is a large manufacturer of furniture in Pennsylvania.

The company does approximately 56 million annually in sales and sells their products through big-box retailers.  They also have a large international presence and ship product to 18 different countries.

Their Six Sigma projects are typically made up of one Six Sigma Black Belt, 3-5 Six Sigma Green belts, and two Yellow Belts in each department.

MSI – Hi Paul, thanks for sitting down with us.  Tell us about the training and how you got started with Six Sigma.

Paul – I had never heard of Six Sigma before so this was completely new to me.

Paul Garrett - Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certified

MSI – Were you intimidated at first?  Learning something new can be hard.

Paul – Not really, I enjoy learning and knew this training is good to have.

MSI – How long did it take you to finish the Six Sigma Yellow Belt training and take the exam.

Paul – I studied the material for about a week.  We also had an on-site trainer who covered some of the more important elements, specific to our company.

MSI – Once you were certified, how quickly were you assigned to a Six Sigma project?

Paul – Right away.  We have a lot of improvement projects going on.  I was assigned to analyze the manufacturing of patio furniture.  It is a combination of manual assembly and automation.

MSI – This is a department you’re already familiar with?

Paul – Yes, Six Sigma Yellow Belt’s are subject matter experts on a project, so you must have a really good understanding of the manufacturing process and how the system works in its current state.

MSI – Give me some details on your day to day project work.

Paul – We knew from the beginning of the project that we had bottlenecks in the manufacturing system.  What we didn’t realize was just how much it effected our production speed, and the overall costs.  My days basically consisted of watching each stage of the manufacturing process and recording every time the production line stopped.  It basically was stopping 50 times a day because the whole system shuts down when they load new sheet metal on the conveyor.

MSI – Why did it stop every time sheet metal was loaded?

Paul – That was kinda the funny part, the main reason given was due to safety.  There are signs all around the machine, and you’re taught in training, that the conveyor must be stopped for safety.  I called the conveyor manufacture and found out that was originally true, but a newer hardware upgrade could be added that made the conveyor safe to run full time.

MSI – Was the upgrade completed?

Paul – Yes it was.  It was less than $2,500 to add the upgrade.

MSI – Did this significantly improve the manufacturing process.

Paul – Not initially, no.  Fixing that issue caused a cascade of other issues to appear.  We suddenly needed to store more sheet metal, which meant we needed more storage space or faster deliveries.

MSI – Which option did the company go with?

Paul – Our suppliers couldn’t deliver faster due to the supply chain issues everyone is having in 2022.  They were able to supply larger quantities on delivery days however, so we ended up storing the material.  Luckily we have extra space in the warehouse to hold it already, so there really wasn’t an inventory storage cost to add in.  There was additional cost in ordering, but that was offset by sales volume.

MSI – So once the supply chain was fixed and the conveyors were running full time, volume increased?

Paul – Yes, getting all the moving parts to work together was a little slow in the beginning but now that we’re 6 months out, we’ve seen a volume increase of over 30%.

MSI – That’s impressive, so you’re saying 30% more inventory is leaving the factory?

Paul – Yes, and our waste costs have also dropped.  I don’t have access to the exact numbers, but I know we were able to calculate the exact number of metal sheets needed monthly to meet demand.

MSI – So your pulling the sheet metal through the system?

Paul – Yes, we’re using a pull system.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive since we’re also storing more inventory, but that inventory is strictly to meet the demands of the manufacturing process, it isn’t long-term storage.

MSI – Do you know what the overall cost benefit of the project was?

Paul – I don’t get to see exact numbers.  We did have an all-handing meeting where they stated we’ve saved over a million dollars in the past 6 months.

MSI – How soon until you work on another Six Sigma Project?

Paul – I’m planning to get my Six Sigma Green Belt certification in the coming months.  I’d like to get more involved with projects in other departments.  I like the challenge of finding problems and correcting them.

MSI – Congratulations on the success of your Six Sigma project and good luck on your Six Sigma Green belt!