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A continuous improvement team from the Littelfuse Inc. manufacturing facility in the Philippines leveraged its Lean/Six Sigma process to garner Silver Winner Award honors at the 2009 International Team Excellence Award competition at the World Conference on Quality and Improvement, held recently at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
For the Square Nano Project Team of Littelfuse’s Lipa facility, winning global recognition among such corporate heavyweights as Alcoa and The Boeing Company capped its long-term efforts to resolve and improve a manufacturing process by using an arsenal of continuous improvement tools, including Six Sigma strategies and Lean Manufacturing techniques. More important, the Littelfuse team’s win focused worldwide attention on the manufacturer for its corporate-wide commitment to best in class quality and customer service, said Dave Heinzmann, Littelfuse vice president of operations.
Pointing out that the team took Silver Award honors on its first try, Dennis Craig, director of global operations and lean enterprise, said the team’s success speaks to Littelfuse’s “decision to be best-in-class in manufacturing” when it comes to improving inventory turns and delivery, reducing scrap and customer defects while generating increasingly better lead times. “We’ve had a paradigm shift. We’ve set goals and we’ve brought in the tools, like Six Sigma and lean, to accomplish those goals.”
Craig said the Littelfuse team’s win was representative of what’s taking place within the corporation, which is now benchmarked not only by customers and suppliers but also businesses committed to continuous improvement. “This team not only fixed the problem, but fixed the root cause,” said Craig, who reported that the competition’s lead judge was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the Littelfuse team.
The American Society for Quality (ASQ), sponsor of the competition, recognized the team for its application of Lean/Six Sigma methodology to eliminate the chance of loose caps in square nano fuses. The Littelfuse team demonstrated how it leveraged its “factory within a factory” model and applied an arsenal of quality tools to reduce chemical handling, improve cap-retention strength by 166 percent, reduce cycle time by 52 percent and trim manufacturing costs by 9 percent.
ASQ, the world’s leading authority on quality for 60 years, tapped Littelfuse for the silver award from a field of 27 finalists. Since 1985, more than 800 teams from around the globe have competed in the competition.
Dan Onken, director of Asia operations, called the recognition at ASQ’s 24th quality competition “important, not just for the sake of winning the Silver Award, but because it points to how this team has significantly increased production efficiency and, consequently, our business opportunities.”
As the worldwide leader in circuit protection products and solutions with annual sales of $530.9 million in 2008, the Littelfuse portfolio is backed by industry leading technical support, design and manufacturing expertise. Littelfuse products are vital components in virtually every product that uses electrical energy, including automobiles, computers, consumer electronics, handheld devices, industrial equipment, and telecom/datacom circuits. Littelfuse offers Teccor, Wickmann and Pudenz brand circuit protection products. In addition to its Des Plaines, Ill., world headquarters, Littelfuse has sales, distribution, manufacturing and engineering facilities in Brazil, China, England, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and the U.S.
ASQ, www.asq.org, has been the world's leading authority on quality for more than 60 years. With more than 90,000 individual and organizational members, the professional association advances learning, quality improvement and knowledge exchange to improve business results and to create better workplaces and communities worldwide. As a champion of the quality movement, ASQ offers technologies, concepts, tools and training to quality professionals, quality practitioners and everyday consumers, encouraging all to Make Good Great. ASQ has been the sole administrator of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award since 1991. Headquartered in Milwaukee, ASQ is a founding partner of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a prominent quarterly economic indicator, and also produces the Quarterly Quality Report.