Is doing safety courses like Nebosh and Iosh or quality management courses like Six Sigma a good option after studying mechanical engineering?

NEBOSH stands for “National Examination Board in Occupational Health and Safety. It is UK based independent examination board providing certification in health, Safety, and Environment. This course provides broader knowledge on risk management, health, and safety.

IOSH stands for “Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.” It’s professional health and safety membership forum, conducts training for managers, supervisor. This training will help managers to take appropriate action to handle practical situations.

Both NEBOSH and IOSH are relevant if you are looking for long term career in health and safety.

Now, let’s look at Six Sigma relevance.

Six Sigma is a data-driven methodology first introduced in the 1970s. Six Sigma is based on data analysis, hence helps in reducing risk which one of the many reasons that Six Sigma is still preferred over other improvement methodologies. The objective is to remove defects at the source and bring down performance to ‘six sigma’ level i.e. 3.4 defects for every one million opportunities. Continuous effort is made to achieve stable and predictable process.

Jack Welch made it the center of business strategy at General Electrical. In today’s competitive world, Six Sigma has widely accepted as a philosophy for growth across different sectors.

Six Sigma applies to all departments and industries. It has a very broad scope. So, professionals at all level are taking this course to improve day-to-day business and hence their performance.

Long answer short, my recommendation is you should go for Six Sigma course.

What is 5S?

5S is a lean tool used for organizing the workplace. 5S represents 5 Japanese words all starting with ‘S,’ Seiri (Sort), Seiton (Set in Order), Seiso (Shine), Seiketsu (Standardize), and Shitsuke (Sustain). It was invented in Japan to enable Just in time production. Unlike general norms, 5S has application in manufacturing as well as service industries

  1. Seiri mean Sort i.e. segregating what is needed and not needed. This is the most challenging and important step of implementing 5S as the human tendency is to preserve everything. For example, Computer Desktop has so many files that may or may not be always required, which makes it difficult to find the desired file. Similar is the case with team shared drives.
  2. Seiton means Set in order i.e. defining a place for everything and keep it in its designated location. For example in shared drives, the nomenclature for folders should be such that anyone can understand where to save a particular file.
  3. Seiso means Shine i.e. keeping everything clean. Cleaning frequency should be defined to ensure everything is cleaned regularly. For example, shared drive should clean on a regular interval to ensure non-relevant files are archived.
  4. Seiketsu mean Standardize i.e. the instruction to maintain and monitor first three steps should be clearly defined. 5S is not a one-time job; it is a regular activity. Hence once the required frequency to repeat first three steps is agreed it should be standardized. Also, it helps in sharing best practices rather than re-inventing the wheel.
  5. Shitsuke mean Sustain. It is all about building self-discipline. All these steps should be done without being told to do. The process should be set to regularly audit and monitor for all the departments

What is throughput time? Is it the same as lead time?


Throughput time is not a widely used word in Lean Six Sigma world.

‘Throughput’ is the number of items produced by a process in a given period of time. And ‘Cycle time’ is the average time required to produced one item by a process.

So if for Process A, cycle time is 10 mins per item.

Throughput of the process will be 6 items per hour.

Lead time is the time required to deliver final product to the client, i.e. time lag between initiation and completion of the request.

Assume, for A Process A, a request was raised on 20-Mar and product delivered to client on 22-Mar, the lead time is 2 days while the cycle time is only 10 mins, which means for rest of the time the request Is actually waiting in the queue for some reason/s. This gives you an opportunity for process improvement.

Another concept worth understanding is Takt time.

Takt time is the rate at which process should run in order to meet customer demand.

For example, on a particular day for Process A, the demand is 100 items.

Assuming 2 people working for 8 hours per day:

Total available time = 2*8 = 16 hours = 960 mins

Takt time = [Time available] / [ Number of units to be processed] = 16 hours / 100 items

= 9.6 mins per item

So with the current cycle time of 10 mins, you won’t be able to achieve demand. Hence the cycle time should always be less than takt time. Now, you can run another project to reduce process cycle time to 9.6 mins per item.

What is throughput time? Is it the same as lead time?

What are the career opportunities after a Lean Six Sigma certificate?


Companies across all sectors are giving a lot of importance to process excellence in the current world. I have seen many companies promoting Lean Six Sigma training program. They also run in-house process excellence training programs. Sometimes, it’s part of manager’s KRA to get x% of resources trained on basic process excellence methodology. And some companies also expect manager’s to have knowledge of Lean Six Sigma to get promoted to the next level.

After certification, you can get into the core process excellence role, which will involve identifying process improvement opportunities, competency building, helping business operations to run as per service level agreement, etc. In this role, you won’t be a part of any primary service teams but will be aligned with them to achieve process efficiency more like a third party character. Depending on your experience, you can get into a particular hierarchical level.

Another option is to stay in main business line i.e. as a part of some operations team and use process excellence knowledge to get that extra bonus points. Kano model developed in 1980, still holds true for customer satisfaction. There are basic needs (must be’s), performance needs (leading to satisfaction if fulfilled and dissatisfaction if not), and delighters. Lean Six Sigma certification will help you identify and achieve those delighters.

What are the career opportunities after a Lean Six Sigma certificate?

Value Stream Map

Value stream mapping is a lean enterprise technique used to analyze and improve the flow of information/material through series of value-adding events taking product/services from supplier to the customer

Value stream map (VSM) gives a visual depiction of the end to end process flow. Unlike standard process flow, VSM will not only have all process step in sequential order of production but also will show material and information flow and multiple data points like cycle time, waiting time, defect rate at each stage, inventory at each stage will also be depicted. It will be the one-page Bible for the leaders to identify improvement areas, recommend solutions and analyze the impact of a solution on other departments as well.

The primary objective of Value stream map is to identify waste and improve material/information flow. There is no standard way of how to use value stream map but at large most of the companies follow below mentioned general steps for creating value stream map:

  1. Define Scope
  2. As-is Value Stream Mapping
  3. Identify Value added and Non-Value Added activity
  4. Identify opportunities for Improvement
  5. To-be Value Stream Mapping

Here is the Value Stream Map cheat sheet for quick reference, it’s a one-page guide for preparing Value stream map. [Order my book “VALUE STREAM MAP – A Lean Tool For Process Improvement (All You Need To Know About)” on Amazon Kindle Store, available for Free till 9th March’2017, to learn VSM in detail)

Step 1: Define Scope

The scope of VSM can be defined using two methods:

1. Fluctuation in Key performance indicator

2. Product Family Matrix:  Products following similar process steps forms one Product Family. Prioritize family basis critical to customer or critical to business

Step 2: As-is Value Steam Mapping

1. Build the map skeleton by drawing customer, supplier, process steps, and production control.

2. Add continuous material/information flow

3. Update current performance

Step 3: Identify Value Added and Non-Value Added Activities

Value: Anything for which customer is willing to pay

NVA: Process step which is not adding value. The objective is to minimize essential non-value added time as much as possible.

Eight types of wastes can be identified in process: Transport(movement of material/product), Inventory, Motion (movement of people), Waiting (people/material waiting in queue), Overproduction (producing more than or before required), Over-processing (processing more than required), Defect (products not matching customer expectations)

Step 4: Identify improvement opportunities

Kaizen is the practice of continuous improvement. The improvement opportunities are depicted in VSM as Kaizen-burst. Examples of improvement opportunities are Non-Value Added activities / Waste, high change over time/ cycle time, multiple/unnecessary communication, duplicate activities etc

Step 5: To be Value Stream Mapping

Multiple Lean tools can be used to recommend improvement opportunities:

1.    5S =  Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain

2.    Standard work = Documenting most efficient way for doing work

3.    Jidoka = Automation that will stop as soon as error occur

4.    Visual Andon = Visual signal that shows the status of a process.

5.    Poka Yoke = Mistake proofing to prevent or detect errors

6.    Kanban = Signal cards used to denote product details

To-be Value stream mapping should be drawn assuming all recommendations are implemented. An implementation plan should be finalizes