osInternational Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET)
Volume 10, Issue 04, April 2019, pp. 1732-1739, Article ID: IJCIET_10_04_182
Available online at http://www.iaeme.com/ijciet/issues.asp?JType=IJCIET&VType=10&IType=04
ISSN Print: 0976-6308 and ISSN Online: 0976-6316
© IAEME Publication
Scopus Indexed
Ismail IDRISSI* and Bouchra BENAZZOUZ
Laboratory of Genetics, Molecular Biology, Endocrinology and Biotechnology, Faculty of
Sciences, Ibn Tofail University, Kenitra, Morocco
The purpose of this paper is to present the fundamental and critical differences
between two of the most powerful methodologies in a process excellence initiative in
food industryThe approach taken was to follow the methodology Mr Jiju Antony in his
paper Six Sigma vs Lean - Some perspectives from leading academics and practitioners,
to compare the results of two case studies carried out in a fish canning company in
Morocco by experts in the field of both Lean and Six Sigma methodologies. Although
both methodologies are focused on process and quality improvement, Lean is much
more easy to use and allow to the company to collect the low hanging fruits without
using complex statistics, however Six Sigma requires great mastery of statistical tools,
which is one of the biggest lacks in food industry in Morocco. The results and
viewpoints expressed in the article are those of a tow case studies carried out in a fish
canning factory in Morocco, It is important to capture the viewpoints of more
academics and practitioners to arrive at sound and valid conclusions. The paper
provides an excellent resource for many researchers and for practitioners who are
engaged in research and applications of the most two powerful methodologies for
achieving and sustaining operational excellence. It is also critical to understand the
fundamental differences between these two methodologies.
Keywords: Quality, Lean production, Six sigma, Operations management,
Cite this Article: Ismail IDRISSI and Bouchra BENAZZOUZ, Lean Or Six Sigma
for Food Industry? Perspectives from Previous Researches and Case Studies in
Industry. International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology, 10(04), 2019,
pp. 1732-1739
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Ismail IDRISSI and Bouchra BENAZZOUZ
Today’s organizations need to answer to the increasing rate of change: products and
technology’s life cycles are getting shorter; competitive pressures force quick changes in the
design of products and services; customers’ demand compels bigger differentiation. There is
an increase in awareness that businesses cannot compete as isolated entities, yet can do so as
networks (Min and Zhou, 2002).
The food industry is expected to provide the right products and services on time, with the
required specifications, at the right place to the customer. However, a fish canning factory can
be quite complex; it is usually defined as a set of interdependent processes that act together to
control, manage and improve the flow of materials, products, services and information, from
the origin point to the delivery point (the end customer) in order to satisfy the customer’s needs,
at the lowest possible cost to all members (Lambert et al., 1998).
The lean management approach, developed by Ohno (1998) at Toyota Motor Corporation
in Japan, forms the basis for the Toyota production system with two main pillars: “automation”
and “just-in-time” (JIT) production. The focus of the lean approach has essentially been on the
waste reduction for increasing actual value-added, in order to fulfil customers’ needs and
maintaining profits. This new structural approach and the way Toyota used lean production to
change the nature of automobile manufacturing, has been better described in the book The
Machine that Changed the World (James P. WOMACK, DANIELT. JONES, 1990).
Six Sigma was developed at Motorola by an engineer Bill Smith in the mid-1980s. Six
Sigma is credited with playing a major role in the turnaround Motorola accomplished in their
quality at the time culminating in Motorola winning the 1988 Baldrige National Quality Award.
Significant deployments lead by the chief executive officers (CEOs) at Allied-Signal and
general electric (GE) was the next major step for the approach. Welch promoted Six Sigma
aggressively inside and outside GE.
Each methodology proposes a set of attributes that are prerequisites for effective
implementation of the respective program: top management commitment, cultural change in
organizations, good communication down the hierarchy, new approaches to production and to
servicing customers and a higher degree of training and education of employees. The
integration of two systems can achieve better results than what either system could not achieve
alone. The integrated approach works better than previous approaches because it integrates the
human (such as leadership, customer focus, cultural change etc.)
This paper intends to present an orientation for all food industrials and academics choosing
between Lean and six sigma to st up process excellence initiatives, In the following section, a
main review of the literature related to Lean and six sigma is presented, then, tow case studies
are presented to compare results of implementation of Lean and six sigma seperatly, then both
of two case studies are compared to another case study of the implementation of Lean and six
sigma combined. Finally, main conclusions are drawn.
Lean and Six Sigma are quality management methods that have been gaining significant
popularity since they were proposed. They are also frequently used in conjunction and referred
to as Lean Six Sigma. Over the years, these methods have been adopted by many organizations
around the globe and are increasingly used to improve their operations and quality. Lean is
mainly focused on the reduction of waste (Drohomeretski et al., 2014) and identifying activities
that do not add value to particular product (Holweg, 2007). On the other hand, by focusing on
the critical quality characteristics of products that are important for customers, Six Sigma
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Lean Or Six Sigma for Food Industry? Perspectives from Previous Researches and Case Studies
in Industry
identifies and eliminates mistakes, defects or failures that may affect processes (Garza-Reyes
et al., 2014a). These objectives and characteristics can generate a discussion on the impact of
these methods on the environment. However, before we begin to discuss the green impact of
these methods, it is important to provide some general overview of their main concepts,
principles and tools
2.1. Lean
Lean has its origins in the automotive industry. It is also known by the terms Lean Enterprise,
Lean Manufacturing, and Lean Production. The Japanese auto industry began creating Lean in
the 1950’s on the foundation created by Henry Ford and Alfred Sloan.14 Lean is a process
improvement methodology that focuses on removing non-value-added activity and aligning
production with customer requirements. Simply, Lean streamlines and optimizes process
Lean focuses on identifying and eliminating the seven hidden wastes common to both
manufacturing and service industries, which are:
1. Motion
2. Over processing
3. Transportation
4. Over production
5. Waiting
6. Defects and rework
7. Inventory
Lean does not optimize singular aspect of a process but improves the overall process value
delivery (Buell and Turnipseed, 2004)
Six Sigma was developed at Motorola by an engineer Bill Smith in the mid 1980s. Six
Sigma is a business improvement approach that seeks to find and eliminate causes of defects
or mistakes in business processes by focusing on process outputs which are critical in the eyes
of customers. Six Sigma principles can be used to shift the process average, help create robust
products and processes and reduce excessive variation in processes which lead to poor quality.
The statistically based problem solving methodology of Six Sigma delivers data to drive
solutions, delivering dramatic bottom-line results. Moreover, Lean is primarily focused on
material and information between the process steps whereas Six Sigma can be extremely useful
in addressing poorly performing value adding transformations within the process steps. Many
Lean principles are fundamentally based on qualitative models developed from years of
experience. Six Sigma on the other hand can play a critical role in understanding what is really
happening inside the process steps.
Each methodology proposes a set of attributes that are prerequisites for effective
implementation of the respective program: top management commitment, cultural change in
organisations, good communication down the hierarchy, new approaches to production and to
servicing customers and a higher degree of training and education of employees. The
integration of two systems can achieve better results than what either system could not achieve
alone. The integrated approach works better than previous approaches because it integrates the
human (such as leadership, customer focus, cultural change etc.) and process aspects (process
capability, process management, statistical thinking) of process improvement. Many
companies often fail to integrate the above elements within their process and quality
improvement initiatives and hence such companies never achieve the breakthrough results they
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Ismail IDRISSI and Bouchra BENAZZOUZ
would like to have. Although there are many commonalities between Lean and Six Sigma,
there are some real and fundamental differences. A panel of academic experts and practitioners
were chosen to discuss the topic “How would you compare Lean with Six Sigma?”. The people
who have participated in this panel discussion include the leading practitioners and academics
in the field.
It is clear from the review of the literature that both Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma are
quality and operations improvement methods that share some form of relationship with TQM
though they were derived from different origins (Arnheiter and Maleyeff, 2005). Their goals
of managing quality are rather similar and therefore both methods are frequently used in
conjunction. Lean Six Sigma was first introduced in 1997 by a company in India (Atmaca and
Girenes, 2013).
Welch and Welch (2005) points out that “Perhaps the biggest but most unheralded benefit
of Six Sigma is its capacity to develop a cadre of great leaders.” Leaders enable an organization
to move from one paradigm to another; from one way of working to another way of working.
In making these shifts, work processes of all kinds get changed. Lean Six Sigma provides the
concepts, methods and tools for changing processes. Lean Six Sigma is thus an effective
leadership development tool in that it prepares leaders for their role, leading change. Lean Six
Sigma is needed because organizations and individuals need a methodology for improvement
and problem solving. Processes do not get better by themselves. In fact, if not improved on
some periodic basis, processes deteriorate over time. We know this because of the second law
of thermodynamics which states that things become more variable if not interfered with. A
systematic approach to improvement is needed to improve performance as measured by quality,
cost, delivery and customer satisfaction. Customer needs are ever changing and increasing.
Cash flow is always critical to the success of an organization. Bottom line improvements
provide the cash needed to fuel innovation and growth. Lean Six Sigma works better than
previous approaches because it integrates the human and process aspects of process
improvement as summarized in Table I (Snee, 2000). Many improvement approaches focus on
a subset of the elements summarized in Table I but none integrate them all, as does the Lean
Six Sigma approach. In fact a major company I am aware of focused over a ten-year period
first on process management, then customer focus, then on process improvement followed by
management leadership with little or no linking and integration of the elements. Each new
effort was seen as a new program rather than part of some larger strategy to improve. Each of
the elements in Table I is important and produces benefits but it is the integration that is needed
to produce breakthrough results. Ten years later, this company adopted Six Sigma on a
corporate-wide basis. A few years after that lean was combined with Six Sigma. This company
is not more than ten years into its use of Lean Six Sigma. Six Sigma places a clear focus on
getting bottom line results. Identification of the business impact is part of the methodology. No
Lean Six Sigma project is approved unless the bottom line impact has been identified. Bottom
line impact gets the attention of top management for, as quality expert Joseph Juran has pointed
out, their language is money ($). The five-phase improvement process: define, measure,
analyze, improve, control (DMAIC) sequences and links in a useful way key statistical and
other tools that have been found to be effective in improving processes. While not totally new
(Hoerl and Snee, 2002), no improvement process has done this so effectively
Lean and Six Sigma both emphasise process flow. Lean focuses on process flow with
Minimum waste and the idea is to improve speed and increase productivity. Six Sigma
focuses on process flow with minimum variation. Lean focuses on reduction of cost by
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Lean Or Six Sigma for Food Industry? Perspectives from Previous Researches and Case Studies
in Industry
eliminating all sorts of non-valued added activities and waste. Six Sigma however focuses on
reduction of cost by systematically tackling cost of poor quality items in various processes. The
main objectif of our study is to decide about the starting point for performance optimization in
food industry, to do that we will compare 3 case studies carried out in food industry, the first
one is about lean management implementation in a canned sardines production process, the
second study is about six sigma implementation for a sterilization process optimization, the
third study is about a Lean six sigma implementation in a mackerel canning process.
3.1. Lean Management case study: Implementation of lean manufacturing in fish
canning company a case study of a canned sardine’s production company in
This case study clearly demonstrates that it is feasible to apply lean principles in a fish canning
company. The systematic application of lean tools has started with the waste elimination in
different process steps of the manufacturing cycle across different product range. Waste
reduction in Interim storage of cooked fish dewatering over 2 hours, No qualification of the
workforce, incorrect exploitation of equipment, Lack of manpower Insufficient space to work
the cooked fish, Poor filling before cooking grids, Lack of supervision and Fish small mold
causing duplication of work has resulted significant cost savings for the company and created
more value for the customers. The introduction of 5S across the whole factory including office
areas has led to a more organized, clean and safer production area and also increased efficiency
due to motivated operators and shorter time for searching tools. The SMED activities have
increased the opportunities for set-up time reduction leading to quick changeover and shorter
lead times. In summary, the lean activities can facilitate the food company to be competitive in
the market by reducing cost, improving productivity, teamwork, and consistency of product
The most important advantage of lean management system is that Lean focuses on
reduction of cost by eliminating all sorts of non-valued added activities and waste that allow
us to make significant improvements throw the implementation of simple tools without
resorting to complicated statistical tools requiring advanced trainings.
3.2. Optimization of Sterilization process through the implementation of the Six
Sigma DMAIC Approach
he object of this work was the presentation of the results of the process of improvement of
industrial performance by the implementation of the Six Sigma approach on a process of
sterilization of canned fish. To this end, the deployment of this project has made it possible to
reduce the sterilizing value by 30% in order to improve the organoleptic qualities of the
product. Also, the total duration of the heat treatments has been reduced by 20%, thus allowing
a possible increase in productivity.
Six Sigma is extremely useful in addressing poorly performing value adding
transformations within the process steps. Furthermore, Six Sigma play a critical role in
understanding what is really happening inside the process steps. The statistically based problem
solving methodology of Six Sigma delivers data to drive solutions, delivering dramatic bottomline results.
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Ismail IDRISSI and Bouchra BENAZZOUZ
3.3. Food processing optimization using lean six sigma methodology - case study
of a mackerel filets Production Company in morocco
Lean Six Sigma is perhaps the most widely-accepted initiative by all a broad range of
organizations. The DMAIC (define-measure-analyze-improve-control) approach has been
followed here to solve an underlying problem of reducing process variation and the associated
high defect rate. This work explores how a fish canning company in Morocco can use a
systematic and disciplined approach to move towards the goal of Lean Six Sigma quality level.
The DMAIC phases are utilized to decrease the defect rate of canned Mackerels by 40% from
the baseline to its entitlement. At the beginning of this project, the defect rate was 30%, and
after the improvement actions were implemented during a six-month period this fell to below
In my experience as a Lean/Six Sigma black belt practitioner I have certainly found a greater
appetite from companies to deliver Lean rather than Six Sigma as the key business process
methodology for business improvement. However, it is the Six Sigma approach which delivers
better bottom line improvements than the application of Lean.
Lean implementation case study showed us that lean management is simple to implement
and expresses the systematic pursuit of waste reduction in food industries. Lean focuses on
efficiency, aiming to provide products and services at the lowest cost and as fast as possible
without a big investment in training and consultancy services.
Lean is primarily used to tackle problems which are readily visible to the food industry and
hence used for initial round of improvements (that is low hanging fruits)
Six sigma case study showed us that it uses more statistical tools and is used for tackling
more complex problems with unknown solutions
Six Sigma approach places a higher visibility and priority on statistics so that the flow chart
would be part of the define stage and is followed by more extensive data analysis. Six Sigma
allows and encourages more imaginative use of statistics so that a Six Sigma practitioner might
actively look for opportunities to apply correlation, regression, capability calculation etc. and
so they are likely to find some interesting patterns and relationships. Lean practitioners would
be content to look for more organizational explanations for problems. Six sigma requires a
strong mastering of statistical tools and software that requires highly performed trainings that
are very expansive.
From the lean six sigma case study we understand that lean and Six Sigma are both process
improvement strategies. Lean can be considered typically as an approach for inter-process
improvement promoting flow and Six Sigma typically for intra-process improvement reducing
variation and enhancing quality. When deployed simultaneously, both can complement each
other to make the process perfect which will satisfy customer’s desire for value with zero waste.
Both Lean and Six Sigma help to identify opportunities for improvement in the organization.
Both enhance problem solving capability of people and make them more valuable to
themselves and to the organization they belong, both current and future.
It is true that people require a fair amount of specific skills and training in using special
tools and techniques to participate in Six Sigma projects
To address all key issues and problems faced by the food industries, it needs a well-rounded
approach that includes both Lean and Six Sigma projects. Lean and Six Sigma when deployed
simultaneously, help to engage all types of people in improvement activities so that
organizations become truly capable and attain competitive advantage.
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Lean Or Six Sigma for Food Industry? Perspectives from Previous Researches and Case Studies
in Industry
From those three studies, we recommend food industries to start with Lean: a 5S exercise
is a very good starting point (Idrissi et al., 2015), as it helps organizing the workplace where
the process takes place. Levelling and scheduling tools help to streamline the flow of the
process and ripe those “low hanging fruits”. Starting with Lean help in getting early
engagement from staff members and showquick results to the leaders of the company (Idrissi
et al., 2015) this result confirms the results of Alessandro Laureani Hertz corporation 2010
(Antony, 2011)
Six sigma is much more useful for complicated process like sterilization which requires a
deep understanding of problems root causes. Six Sigma addresses the entire process behind the
production of an item or completion of a service, rather than just the final outcome. It is
proactive rather than reactive, as it sets out to determine how improvements can be made even
before defects or shortcomings are found.
The biggest problem of six sigma is that it may create rigidity and bureaucracy that can
create delays and stifle creativity. In addition, its customer focus may be taken to extremes,
where internal quality-control measures that make sense for a company are not taken because
of the overlying goal of achieving the Six Sigma-stipulated level of consumer satisfaction
Also, according to our six sigma case study, we have found that Six Sigma is extremely
costly for small businesses (like our case study company) to implement. Employees must
obtain training from certified Six Sigma institutes in order for an enterprise to receive Six
Sigma certification. Even if a firm wishes to implement Six Sigma without formal certification,
much training is necessary in order to understand the system and how to apply it to particular
business processes. Many small businesses cannot possibly afford such training, even for a
single employee. In addition, small businesses that need to remain nimble and creative often
find the Six Sigma system of process analysis stifling, bureaucratic and overly time consuming.
The third case study about Lean six sigma stimulatingly application help us to say that LSS
integration can be simply explained as the whole being the sum of its parts, so each part needs
to operate at its fullest potential to attain the most efficient results. Organizations that
successfully implement LSS can expect to achieve measurable increased efficiencies in
processes both large and small and when product defects are reduced through Lean Six-Sigma
process-improvement strategies, costs go dramatically down.
This is why we recommend to manage operational excellence projects as a combined
projects then to choose which business strategy Is the most likely to be more suitable to the
problem studied.
Most companies using the integrated approach apply basic Lean tools and techniques at the
starting phase of their program such as current state map, basic housekeeping using 5S practice,
standardized work, etc. After implementing the above tools and techniques, some wastes are
eliminated from the system (Idrissi et al., 2015) Now, the tools and techniques of Six Sigma
are used to offer powerful solutions to chronic problems like sterilization optimization (Idrissi
and Benazzouz, 2017). The integration of two methodologies can achieve better results than
either method could achieve alone (Idrissi et al., 2016).
While Lean strategies play an important role in eliminating waste and non-value added
activities across the organization, Six Sigma, through the use of statistical tools and techniques,
takes an organization to an improved level of process performance and capability.
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Ismail IDRISSI and Bouchra BENAZZOUZ
Ronald D. Snee, (2010),"Lean Six Sigma - getting better all the time", International Journal
of Lean Six Sigma, Vol. 1 Iss: 1 pp. 9 – 29
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Lambert, D.M., Stock, J.R. and Ellram, L.M. (1998), Fundamentals of Logistics
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rohomeretski, E., Gouvea da Costa, S. E., Pinheiro de Lima, E., & Garbuio, P. A. D. R.
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Idrissi, I. et al. (2015) ‘Implementation of Lean Manufacturing in Fish Canning Company :
a Case Study of a Canned Sardines Production Company in Morocco’, 6(2), pp. 1–13.
Idrissi, I. et al. (2016) ‘Food Processing Optimization using Lean Six Sigma Methodology
- Case Study of a Mackerel Filets Production Company in Morocco’, 143(3), pp. 273–281.
Idrissi, I. and Benazzouz, B. (2017) ‘Optimisation De La Stérilisation Des Conserves De
Poisson Par La Mise Ne Place De La Démarche Six Sigma DMAIC’, European Scientific
Journal, 13(25), pp. 297–317. doi: 10.19044/esj.2017.v13n25p297.
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