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Examination Tips   Recently updated !

Six Sigma Certification is important for those aspiring to advance their career in the quality management sector and who want to implement Six Sigma Methodologies in their organisation to make the projects successful.

However the most daunting part of many of us doing such a course, is preparing ourselves both mentally and physically for the exam.

Here are some essential tips we at Lean Ireland have put together for you…

 

  1. PREPARTION

Check out the exact location of your exam venue on Google Maps. Know exactly where it is and how long it is expected to take you to get there.

Make sure you understand the nature of the examination in terms of how it will be conducted, and what you can and cannot bring to the exam with you.

Check out restrictions regarding text books, sample questions sheets and calculators. Most examinations will not allow any devices that can connect to the internet.

Ensure all your notes, prompt cards and text books are clearly annotated with your subject headings. Use coloured markers to highlight key topics and formulae. Only ring bound or spine bound notes are allowed. Stapled notes and index cards are NOT allowed.

 

  1. ARRIVAL

Arrive in plenty of time to register, at least 40 minutes in advance of the start time.

Be prepared for strict security inspections regarding before being granted access into the exam room.

 

  1. THE EXAM PLAN

Acknowledge that you will not know the answer to every question on the paper. Be comfortable in that knowledge.

Develop an examination timing plan, like the one below.

 

Breathe into your abdomen three times, slowly. Do not look up notes in the last few minutes. Breathe.

 

  1. READING & ANSWERING

Read through each question individually, slowly and carefully. When answering, keep referring back to the question to ensure you are on the right track.

Skip the question if the answer is not obvious, and move on to the next one. Do not worry if you don’t know the answer. Sometimes a later question will prompt an answer an earlier one.

Following first pass completion of the questions go back re-read the unanswered questions slowly and carefully.

The best of luck!

 

A more complete guideline listing of tips for the online ASQ examinations, is available by clicking the button below.

 


The Continuous Improvement Funding Menu

Time and again when visiting prospective clients, we hear the refrain “We’re too busy at the moment to start a lean programme” or, just as likely “It’s not in this year’s training budget”. These responses are true, because personnel in every dynamic company, working in a challenging marketplace, will always be busy. But this is the problem – if you have process efficiency issues, you are busier than you need to be, addressing failure demand. Failure demand is defined as work that has to be done because something that should have worked, didn’t.

The availability of funding, to invest in information systems, or boost the training budget, is a great incentive to step back from the business ‘busyness’ and re-charge your continuous improvement programme. If you are eligible, an external resource will support and coach personnel as they learn smarter and more customer friendly ways of delivering value to customers. This impacts significantly and positively on customer service and the bottom line. Check out the following funding avenues. The list is not exhaustive, and you are advised to contact your local funding body representative to discuss options and eligibility.

  1. IDA GRANTS

1.1 Research and Development (R&D): Companies can avail of financial incentives to carry out in-house R&D projects and collaborative projects with third-level institutes and industrial partners. There is also a 25% tax credit available for companies engaging in R&D.

1.2 Capital Grant: The level and availability of support is dependent on location and size of the company. This grant also covers investment in software applications.

1.3 Training Grants: Available across the country to develop the competitive capabilities of companies already located in Ireland.

1.4 Lean/Green: This is designed to encourage clients to adopt Lean business principles to increase performance and competitiveness that will sustain and grow its operations in Ireland. Support is also available to client companies to introduce good Environmental management practices through its Lean/Green business offer. This offer is aimed particularly at IDA SMEs (fewer than 200 employees)

Cordatus Consulting Limited, trading as Lean Ireland is a registered Lean consulting advisor with the IDA. For details see www.idaireland.com/how-we-help, and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local IDA representative.

 

  1. ENTERPRISE IRELAND GRANTS

2.1       High potential Start-up: The High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) team provides hands-on support and advice to entrepreneurs and early stage companies that are considered by Enterprise Ireland to have an innovative product, service or technology, and have the potential to achieve international sales and create employment. for support and investment.

2.2 Operational Excellence Offer: This latest funding scheme is designed to aid Irish companies (both SMEs and large) looking to evolve and expand, and become more competitive in the global market. The application of the funding is broad. There are 3 categories – Capital Assets (Equipment, Software Licenses), Business Innovation (Salaries, Overheads, Consultancy, Testing, Materials, etc.) and Training (including travel & subsistence).

2.2 Lean Business Offer: Similar to the IDA programme this suite of initiatives is designed to encourage clients to adopt Lean business principles to increase performance and competitiveness that will sustain and grow its operations in Ireland and exports abroad. Support is also available to client companies to introduce good Environmental management practices through its Lean/Green business offer.

2.4 Established SME funding: A variety of grants are available include Market Research and Internationalisation Supports, Supports for Product, Process or Services, Development including RD&I Funding, Supports to Enhance and Develop your Management Team, Productivity and Business Process Improvement Supports and Company Expansion Packages.

For details see www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/Productivity/Lean-Business-Offer/, and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local Enterprise Ireland representative (https://www.localenterprise.ie/Find-Your-Local-Enterprise-Office/).

 

  1. UDARAS NA GAELTACHTA GRANTS

For companies in Gaeltacht areas, Údarás can provide a range of financial incentives in the form of grant assistance to assist varied business needs. Support incentives include:

3.1       Feasibility Study Grant

3.2       Research and Development Grant

3.3       Capital Grant

3.4       Training Grant

3.5       Consultancy Services Grant

3.6       Development of Market Research Skills

3.7       Innovation Voucher Initiative

3.8       Online Trading Scheme

3.9       Lean/Green service offer, similar to Enterprise Ireland and the IDA.

For details see www.udaras.ie/en/forbairt-fiontraiochta/cunamh-airgid/,  and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local Údarás representative.

 

 

  1. LOCAL ENTERPRISE OFFICE (LEO) GRANTS

Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) provide a range of financial supports designed to assist with the establishment and/or growth of enterprises (limited company, individuals/sole trader, cooperatives and partnerships) employing up to ten people.

4.1       Feasibility Study Grants

4.2       Priming Grants

4.3       Business Expansion Grants

4.4       Technical Assistance for Micro Exporters

4.5       European Globalisation Fund

4.6       New Agile Innovation Fund

4.7       Lean/Green service offer, similar to Enterprise Ireland and the IDA.

For details see www.localenterprise.ie/Discover-Business-Supports/Financial-Supports/,   and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local LEO representative

Cordatus Consulting Limited, trading as Lean Ireland is a registered Lean consulting advisor with Enterprise Ireland, the IDA, Údarás na Gaeltachta and LEO. .

 

  1. SKILLNETS

The Skillnets network around the country has been a wonderful source of supplementary funding for lean six sigma and supply chain training and development.  These include, and are not limited to

  • BioPharmaChem Skillnet
  • CILT Skillnet
  • First Polymer Training Skillnet
  • ICBE Advanced Productivity Skillnet
  • Irish Medtech Skillnet
  • ITAG Skillnet
  • Lean and Green Skillnet

Please see https://www.skillnetireland.ie/all-networks/ for a complete listing of Skillnet networks.

 

6.  R&D FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES & TAX CREDITS

There is a variety of funding opportunities and structures available to companies be thesaech and process improvement training. y small or large, including:

6.1       In-Company R&D

6.2       Collaborative R&D

6.3       Start-up Company R&D

6.4       EU R&D Funding Programmes

6.5       R&D Tax Incentives. R&D Tax Credits are worth approximately €700m per annum to 1,500 companies in Ireland. The credit is calculated at 25% of qualifying expenditure and is used to reduce a company’s Corporation Tax. Revenue provides guidance here: www.revenue.ie/en/companies-and-charities/reliefs-and-exemptions/research-and-development-rd-tax-credit/index.aspx

6.6       Knowledge Development Box

6.7       Manunet is a network of development agencies whereby each agency uses its own funding programmes to support international collaborative projects performed by companies in the manufacturing sector. MANUNET supports innovation-driven, close-to-market research and development projects in manufacturing. It aims to encourage cross-border value chains that emerge from advancing technologies. Contact the IRDG at http://www.irdg.ie/funding-support/ for advice on R&D funding.

 

7.   INTERTRADE IRELAND

InterTradeIreland has been helping small businesses in Ireland and Northern Ireland explore new cross-border markets, develop new products, processes and services and become investor ready over the last 20 years.

7.1 Acumen sales and marketing programme

7.2 Elevate, specifically aimed at Micro-Enterprises

7.3 FUSION provides financial support to help you get the specialist skills

7.4 Seedcorn competition

7.5 Business Angel investment

For details see www. intertradeireland.com/corporate-information/about-us/ and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local InterTrade Ireland representative.

 

8. INVEST NI

As the regional business development agency, Invest NI’s role is to grow the economy of Northern Ireland, by helping new and existing businesses to compete internationally. Some funding programmes include:

8.1 Capability development

8.2  Innovation and R&D

8.3 Start ups with export potential

For details see www.investni.com/ and to check your eligibility for any of the above, please contact your local Invest NI representative.

 

So, the big question – “Am I eligible?” All of the funding opportunities come with terms and conditions. There’s no magic wand, and the application process can sometimes be off-putting (who likes paperwork?), however it is well worthwhile. The funding typically gives a scaled percentage of your actual investment, in redesigning your business model to increase competitiveness, and enhance your market position so you grow further in new markets. Also, there is typically a cap on the amount of funding that can be claimed from the agencies over a defined period of time. Your local representative will be able to help you out.

The above is only a sampling of funding and is not designed to be exhaustive. If you know of any other sources that may help companies, please post in the comments section below. I wish you well with your funding research and application process.

 


The role of the contract Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

Black Belt

The Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (BB) is a professional who is well versed in the Lean Six Sigma methodology, who leads improvement projects, typically in a full-time role. A Lean Six Sigma Black Belt possesses a thorough understanding of all approaches and tools within the phases of lean six sigma project. They understand how to perform and interpret Six Sigma tools and how to use standard principles of Lean.

A BB is results driven, trained in advanced project management and statistical analysis tools. He/She is expected to contribute between €250K and €1M to the company’s operating profit each year by undertaking process improvement projects that lead to enhanced customer satisfaction, and lower cost to the company.

Why use contract Black Belt support?

Employing contract BBs has become popular for every employer type, ranging from multinationals to SMEs and even start-ups. One of the reasons why it’s beneficial for companies to employ a BB contractor to work on specific projects, is the specialised expertise that they can bring to that role. They can also adapt quickly to the organisation’s processes and culture, and deliver measured value on a quick return basis.

The contract black belt service compliments existing operational excellence department resources, or can act as a stand-alone professional support to the management team and project teams on site. The advantages to the organisation are many, and include:

  1. Senior project manager with cross-sector experience;
  2. Access to a wide and deep knowledge store of programme management approaches, and lean six sigma data analysis and problem-solving tools;
  3. The support of a professional who is senior enough to influence management thinking, without having the natural hesitation that might inhibit a more junior permanent employee;
  4. Use of support days in line with the organisation’s needs, and
  5. The freedom to wind-up the contract when it best suits the organisation.

Black belt duties

Duties of the black belt will vary from company to company, however will most likely include the following. In consultation with the management team and others:

  • Development and maintenance of the continuous improvement roadmap;
  • Project selection and team selection;
  • Project planning, team mentoring and individual team lead mentoring;
  • Process problem-solving with teams in manufacturing, laboratory, warehouse and office areas;
  • Data analysis and report writing, with recommendations and project plan

Support days & duration

The range of support days varies typically, from 3 days per month to full time 20 days per month.

Funding  

The organisation may be eligible for IDA or Enterprise Ireland lean funding, under the Lean Business Offer suite of programmes. Talk to us about it today.

 

 

 


Measure up or pay up!

History is littered with examples of bad decisions, made on bad measurement data, and their very expensive consequences. In 1999, NASA lost the Mars Orbiter, which was designed to study the Martian climate & atmosphere. It seems the engineering team used English units of measurement, whilst NASA used the metric system. NASA took a $125 million dollar hit on the lost in space Mars Climate Orbiter.

We don’t need to travel to NASA to observe bad decisions made on the basis of poor measurement data. Decisions about process changes and parts’ conformance to specifications are based on measurements or inspection. Measurement itself is a process and like any process it has the potential for variation or error. Variation in the measurement system comes from many sources including people, materials and the environment in which the measurement is taken. Very often our measurements exhibit unacceptable variation and we don’t even know about it.

 

The risk to the organisation is twofold: firstly, a false reject, which cost the organisation money, and secondly and much more seriously a false pass, which may result in a customer complaint, and worst case a product recall and significant damage to the business. Time and again I have witnessed operators rejecting good parts, and they don’t even know it. Also, more unfortunately, I have witnessed customer complaints, when parts are returned from customers for 100% inspection (or worse, scrap!) after the customer has discovered non-compliant parts in the order.

 

How can we assess our measurement system? It’s typically a quick and easy, and very informative exercise to conduct what’s called a ‘Gauge R&R’ exercise. This formal technique assesses how likely the assessor (i.e. the person taking the measurement) is to get the same result, when using the same gauge to measure the same characteristic of the same part, repeatedly. This is known as assessing for repeatability, the first R. Gauge R&R also assesses how likely two or more assessors are to get the same result when using the same gauge to measure the same characteristic of the same part, repeatedly. This is known as assessing for reproducibility, the second R. The exercise provides a data set on the accuracy of your measurement system. Based on the data, you can decide whether or not the measurement system needs to be improved or updated.

 

If you don’t have access to Minitab or JMP, there are many cheap and cheerful Excel add-on packages that can enable you to conduct Gauge R&R exercises. The investment in regular Gauge R&R exercises on key processes measurements more than pays for itself. If you’d like advice on how to go about it, just give me a call on +353 91 870 708.

 

Bernie Rushe,

Principal Consultant, Lean Ireland.


Innovation Nation – How Ireland is rocking the Innovation vibe

The Star Trek transporter is my favourite invention of the future. What’s yours?

Long renowned for our novelists and poets, Ireland ranks high in the nations of the world in terms of literary innovation. When it comes to business and technological innovation however, we’re a little shy of world class. In 2010 Ireland ranked 22nd in World Economic Forum (WEF) innovation rankings, behind countries like Austria, Belgium, Israel, and Canada. Belgium? Nope, me neither. USA, Switzerland and Japan took the top 3 spots.

By 2017/2018 Ireland had climbed to 19th place in the WEF innovation rankings. This climb is no mean feat for a country whose most famous inventors had to immigrate to find an environment that fostered their creative talents. John Holland from Co. Clare, the 19th century engineer who invented the submarine, comes to mind. The emigration imperative is no less strong for our modern-day inventors. The Collison brothers, founders of Stripe, now reside in California. Their success is feted at home and abroad, and their innovative talents were well rewarded when they became the world’s youngest self-made billionaires.

All is not doom and gloom however and there are real signs of increasing levels of innovation being fostered here in Ireland. A quick search in IrishJobs.ie using search terms related to innovation, indicates plenty of opportunity for those with a talent for innovation. Examples for innovation-related search terms include ‘Design’ (2,347 jobs), ‘Innovation’ (628 jobs) and ‘R&D Engineer’ (269 jobs).

As yet, our patent filing and granting rate remains relatively low by comparison with world leaders leading countries. This is a key metric in relation to our innovation rankings. See here for details on how we compare with others.

There are many public institutions, private companies, professional organisations and  funding bodies who are proactively promoting innovation in Ireland. There are many events happening country-wide to promote innovation and design thinking. I will mention just three here, aimed at three difference audiences in the innovation space.

On October 11th and 12th next, the First Polymer Training Skillnet in Athlone will host a two-day workshop in Design of Experiments. This very practical workshop will introduce participants to the concepts of effective process and product design, using observation, deduction and statistical analysis. The course is suitable for design engineers and scientists, and compliments a wide range of practical design workshops run regularly by the First Polymer Training Skillnet. To view a course outline and register please click on this link.

On 23rd October 2018 the IRDG’s annual conference, will take place at Lyrate Estate, Kilkenny. Business professionals from all backgrounds are invited to attend this national event which will connect people from diverse industry sectors – all focused on growing their businesses through innovation. One of the keynote speakers, Holly O’Driscoll, Innovation Strategist and Global Design Thinking Leader with Proctor & Gamble USA, will talk about the importance of being shamelessly human-centred in all that we do, and leveraging a design thinking mindset to create conditions for innovators to thrive. To review the conference speakers and make a booking please click on this link.

And finally, don’t forget that well-loved national institution that is the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition will take place in Dublin on 9th to 12th January 2019. Now in its 55th year (and won by Pat Collison in 2005 at the age of 16), this innovation incubator surely deserves our support. Now is the time to start encouraging your offspring to get project ready for the 2020 exhibition. Take a look at the past winners here.