Local businesses gain insight from CTC Lean Six Sigma Conference
by Matt Shinall
Apr 27, 2012 | 2575 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In an inaugural attempt to share best practices and lessons learned from leaders in the field of process improvement, Chattahoochee Technical College hosted local business and industry leaders Thursday for a Lean Six Sigma Conference.

Emphasizing waste reduction and efficiency, Lean Six Sigma has made an impact in businesses around the world by improving quality, production and revenue.

Jonathan Warner, director of economic development for CTC, organized the event, which brought together professionals from across various industries to discuss the processes used in major corporations.

"Lean Six Sigma is a combination of two quality-improvement technologies," Warner said. "Lean is the concept of eliminating waste in any organization. If you're not engaged in an activity that's adding value then it's wasteful. There are proven methodologies to identify waste in an organization and through a quality-improvement process the objective is to eliminate as much waste as possible.

"And then Six Sigma is a process that uses statistics that help you collect data, interpret data and then make changes in a process so that you can continue to collect new data and continue to reduce process variation."

Guests Thursday took part in break-out sessions aimed at specific industries and obstacles. Keynote speaker for the event was Matt Parkey, global director of operational excellence for Coca-Cola.

"He explained to the group how they use Lean Six Sigma to continually improve upon their process and they've seen dramatic improvement to their bottom line," Warner said. "Much of the focus today was hearing from process experts. ... The idea is for participants to take lessons learned from these organizations and get other organizations started on their own Lean Six Sigma journey."

Among those participating in the conference was Toyo Tire Training Manager Kary Gilkeson. Taking away lessons from other professionals, she noted finding the day's panel discussion particularly helpful. As questions were posed, many relating to actual problems currently facing businesses, Gilkeson enjoyed seeing four distinct solutions coming from four different perspectives. Reflecting on Thursday's conference, the first of its kind in Bartow County, she voiced appreciation for CTC's engagement with local businesses.

"It's great to see that the school is doing something to really support the industries in the area and I think they definitely did that successfully today," Gilkeson said. "Everybody is trying to do more with less and what this allows a company to do is to improve processes and efficiencies so that an employee can do more. That doesn't necessarily mean they're working harder, they're working smarter."

Increasing in the breadth and depth of Lean Six Sigma training, CTC offers three levels of certification -- white belt, green belt and black belt. The courses also have been approved for 100 percent Workforce Improvement Act funding for the unemployed.

"We're pretty proud of our program and the rigor that's involved in achieving that certificate," Warner said. "We've developed a comprehensive curriculum that provides an optional project for green belt students and a required project for black belt students and they document each step of the way their skill set as they learn them. There is a comprehensive final exam in addition to having to successfully complete the project and at that point we will award the green belt or the black belt certificate."

CTC has been offering Lean Six Sigma classes for two years and holds courses every semester. For more information, visit www.chattahoocheetech.edu/conedmain or call 770-975-4050.