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Lean Thinking for Aviation

Lean Thinking and Six Sigma for Aviation

As aircraft only make money for airlines when they are flying, airlines and ground handlers are continuously challenged to improve the aircraft turnaround times and subsequently the on-time performance. Furthermore operating in a capital intensive industry with notoriously low profit margins, pushes aviation stakeholders to keep improving processes to achieve operational excellence.

As nowadays passengers demand service at the best price, effective and efficient operations are key to keep improving both the bottom and top lines of your business, being either airline, airport or ground handler.  However aviation processes are extremely complex and involve multiple stakeholders. Applying structured continuous improvement methods are required to stimulate a positive attitude for continuous improvement and cracking difficult problems.

The lean thinking and six sigma philosophies originating for leading companies such Toyota and General Electric (GE) have been successfully applied in the aviation industry on ground operations, maintenance, flight operations. Whether using daily hands-on lean techniques such as stands ups, improvement boards and Kaizen events focused on process throughput improvement or Six Sigma focused on effectiveness by finding root-causes and improving project based using the Define-Measure-Analyse-Improve-Control cycle, both technique are complementary to continuously take small step for the better.

We know that changing business as usual is difficult. Our consultants are experienced in rolling out change management programs to implement lean thinking at all department levels. Lean Thinking is systematically improving aviation processes every day a small step rather than ad-hoc fire fighting style problem solving initiatives. Successful Lean Six Sigma implementation examples are: the reduction aircraft delays due to baggage connections at Kenya Airways by 65% and United Nations Humanitarian Air Service’s food-aid delivery speed by 40% while reducing the cost per tonne kilometer by 15% during the 2016 Hurricane Matthew response.

Our Method – Leveraging Lean Six Sigma in Aviation

Lean Six Sigma helps airlines, airports, ground handlers, MRO companies and component suppliers to optimize and improve basis processes. Whether the aim is to reduce service lead times, drive down costs or create new business opportunities.

Our Lean Six Sigma professionals can help you to understand the Lean six Sigma principles, implement and facilitate improvement sessions in your organisation. However Lean Six Sigma Sigma results are driven by Quality and Acceptance of the solution. We succeed when your team is able to improve processes on its own, which is the best prove that Lean Six Sigma is taking root in your organisation.

  • Load connection delays per week
  • Upper Control Limit
  • Lower Control Limit
  • Average

Leveraging Lean Thinking in Aviation

  • Find the process bottleneck
  • Make sure the bottleneck never stops
  • Balance the Processes with respect to the bottleneck
  • Improve the bottleneck capacity
  • Repeat

Six Sigma in Aviation – Project Based Improvement

  • Define: Determine project goal and scope of the project
  • Measure: How can I measure the current performance
  • Analyse: What are the root causes?
  • Improve: Generation, implementing and testing solutions
  • Control: Maintain the improvement, stay in control

Read more about our Lean Six Sigma implementation at Kenya Airways

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