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How to Design a Lean Six Sigma Pull System

How to Design a Lean Six Sigma Pull System

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Published by Steven Bonacorsi
I walk you through the math, 5 steps and in the order.
I walk you through the math, 5 steps and in the order.

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: Steven Bonacorsi on Jan 27, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Creating a Lean Six Sigma Pull System
Lean Six Sigma is a leadership methodology that significantly improves process Quality, Speed,Costs, and Agility. Practitioners leverage many tools and methods to transform a current stateprocess into a stabilized
future state. One of the concepts applied is called a “Pull System” andit is very different than the “Push System” models that we are often changing from. This articlewill show you how to design a “Pull System” for your process.
 The following definitions will be used to describe the speed, efficiency, throughput (Exit Rate),and capacity of a process:
Process Cycle Time (PCT):
The time from release of a product into a process until itscompletion. Also called Process Lead Time (PLT)
The elapsed time from when a new mobile phone customer calls, to when the NewMobile Account is Setup, averages 14 days.
Work-In-Process (WIP):
Product, Service, or Transaction that is within the process boundaries.It is the unit moving through the process. As the WIP moves through the process, it will changein Fit, Form, or Function, as it is transformed into the final output that the customer receives.
There were 3000 refinance applications in process at months end
Exit Rate (Throughput):
The process output over a defined period of time
Process closed 100 new mobile accounts per day last month
Why Use a Pull System?
Pull Systems limit the amount of 
“Stuff in Process” in order to control
the process cycletime.
Pull Systems help to stabilize processes to make it easier to apply analysis &improvement tools.
To control and reduce the amount of product/information in process, allowing a sharperfocus on problem areas, with
less “stuff” to get
in the way of analysis efforts.
To control and reduce cycle time to generate faster feedback cycles on improvementprojects, which also increases the process speed and thus cycles of learning.
The primary goals of a work control system are to stabilize then reduce process cycletime and cycle time variability.
Pull Systems are Agile, Faster, and Predictable
Governing Principle of Pull Systems:Start Rate = Exit Rate
Cycle time fluctuates with the amount of WIP (Work in Process)
Pull System Benefits
A pull system can attain the same throughput as a push system with less averageWIP and therefore, a shorter cycle time.
Less WIP means less “stuff” to get in the way, and thus more time spent adding
value to the process.
 Ease of Control:
Pull systems rely on setting easily controllable WIP levels, creating a muchmore manageable process.
 Quality Improvement:
Low WIP (and associated cycle time) systems are more sensitive toquality (and therefore, force problem resolution) and facilitate it (by improving feedback andlearning cycles).A Pull System is also called a Work Control System. A Pull System with a Single Piece Flow ispreferred, but Two-Piece Flow and Batch Flows all require a Pull System before more complexReplenishment Pull (Also call
ed ‘Supermarket Flow”) systems can be designed.
How to Size a Pull System
1. Determine the current Process Cycle Time (PCT)2. Determine the current Process Cycle Efficiency (PCE)3. Identify appropriate target PCE4. Calculate theoretical best PCT5. Calculate WIP cap
Step 1: Determine the Current Process Cycle Time (PCT)
Process Cycle Time (PCT)
is the time from the release of a product, service, or transaction into aprocess (Process Start) until its completion (Process End). Process Cycle Time (also known asProcess Lead Time can be approximated using
Little’s Law
. Little’s Law can be defined using the
formula below.
Work in Process (WIP)
is the “number of things in process” at any given time
. Work in Processis not Inventory. Inventory changes into Work in Process
once is passes the “Start Time” of theprocess and remains Work in Process until it “Stop Time” of a process. Once the WIP has exited
the process, it changes from Work In Process into a Finished Product, Service, or Transactionthat the customer will receive.
Exit Rate
(also known as
) is the amount of work (Product/Service/Transaction)completed over a given period of time. The exit rate should equal the customer demand of theprocess for that given period of time.
: Applications completed
per hour.”
Example of Process Cycle Time is:
PCT = 100 orders/20 orders per day = 5 days
Step 2: Determine the Current Process Cycle Efficiency (PCE%)
Process Cycle Efficiency (PCE%)
is a measure of the relative efficiency in a process. PCErepresents the percentage of customer value add time, which is the time the product, service,or transaction changes in form, fit, or function towards completion.

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