02 December 2004 | Geraint John
Applying lean manufacturing and Six Sigma principles in non-production purchasing has produced major benefits at Xerox.
Mark Stewart, a "black belt" in the global purchasing team, said that the use of continuous improvement techniques had shaved millions of dollars off its transport and warehousing costs in Europe since it was introduced in 2003.
Examples included better utilisation of seafreight containers and a slicker system for scrapping non-recyclable components.
Other benefits for the printer and copier manufacturer included better data, more efficient processes and a strong emphasis on finding suppliers that used similar methods. For purchasers, it meant working on projects with staff from other functions and being forced to look at operations from a different angle.
"Lean Six Sigma is a fantastic way of getting purchasing into all areas of the company," Stewart said.