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A Green Belt in Efficiency

With Six Sigma training, a CSL Plasma team designs processes that solve problems and reduce waste.

Lean 6 Sigma logo that says define, measure, analyze, improve, control

Have you ever wondered what Six Sigma training is?

True to form, Six Sigma is even efficient about the way it defines itself on the website. Just 17 words: “Six Sigma is a methodology used to improve business processes by utilizing statistical analysis rather than guesswork.”

Recently, a CSL Plasma team from Union, South Carolina, took a two-week course, earning their green belt in Lean Six Sigma. Their focus: improving efficiency and removing waste and variations from CSL Plasma Solutions Manufacturing.

The Union facility produces liquid saline and sodium citrate (anticoagulant) solutions, which are used in the plasma collection process. CSL Plasma provides plasma to global biotechnology leader CSL Behring as the key raw material in developing and delivering life-saving medicines for people with rare and serious diseases – like immune deficiencies and bleeding disorders – in more than 100 countries around the world.

Like in karate, green belt is the first level of Six Sigma certifications, and the South Carolina team is the first group from CSL Plasma to achieve it. Additional Six Sigma certifications and levels are offered based on the complexity of tools and methods learned. To earn the green belt credential, the eight-member team from Union passed an exam given by the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

“The Green Belt training was very valuable because it teaches you how to define value added verses non-value-added activities within a process,” said Nicole Farr, Continuous Improvement Site Lead. “From a business standpoint, by eliminating non-value-added activities, it promotes a clear vision for the company, business growth, cost reduction, good employees, improvements to the product and great services.”

Why invest time in Six Sigma? For a manufacturing site, improved efficiency means problems get solved more quickly; waste is reduced; productivity goes up; and costs go down. The team is now applying what they learned to decrease waste in the process of filling bags of sodium citrate. Fewer defects in these bags means lower costs and less scrap that must be disposed of.

Lean Six Sigma takes a collaborative approach so the team is united in the goal of improved performance; the systematical removal of waste; and consistency that improves quality.

“We are in the early stages of developing a lean culture to transform floor operations,” said Matt Seay, Operations Manager, CSL Plasma Manufacturing Solutions. “This course introduced the team to Six Sigma terminology and tools to lead process improvement projects into our environment.”

Participant Kristen Gist, Quality Control Supervisor, said the training was doubly helpful. First, it gave her skills and tools that she can use in her daily activities. Second, she learned methods and strategies that senior management uses in problem solving and facility improvements.

“Overall, the experience was enlightening and well worth the hard work that came with it,” Gist said.

Other Six Sigma Green Belt projects currently underway are strategically focused on improving operational efficiencies, reducing material wastes, and improving equipment reliability.

“Our staff is energized by adopting a fresh approach to ensuring we are doing the right work, at the right time and in the right place to produce as optimally as we can,” said Steve Aldrich, Senior Director Manufacturing Operations for CSL Plasma.