Barloworld's Six Sigma projects yield 'positive' results for forklift users

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Forklift supplier Barloworld has announced significant positive results following the introduction of Six Sigma continuous improvement techniques. Both Barloworld and its customers have benefited from the initiative, and the company reports that it has helped ensure the Hyster Fortens remains one of the most reliable forklifts on the market.



The Six Sigma methodology was first introduced into Barloworld Handling (UK) in April 2008, with a view to improve the efficiency of its processes, reduce cost and improve customer satisfaction. Six Sigma is a set of tools and techniques seeking to improve the consistency and quality of process outputs, with Black and Green Belt certification awarded to individuals after comprehensive training and a number of specific improvement projects.

By July 2010, eleven Barloworld employees had achieved their 'Green Belt' qualification with numerous projects successfully completed leading to direct financial benefit and improved efficiency.  Barloworld, the UK distribution partner for Hyster, maintains more than 25,000 forklifts nationwide through 500 mobile technicians and 17 customer support centres.

"Through Six Sigma initiatives, there are now fewer breakdowns, faster engineer response times, less waste and the quality of new truck handovers has improved even further with a revised process and checklist" explains Phil Marles, Continuous Improvement Manager for Barloworld, who is Black Belt qualified and has led a number of Six Sigma project teams.

"One key positive is that we have used the Six Sigma process to strengthen our working relationship with Hyster, helping to improve the reliability of trucks in the field and introduced improvements in both manufacturing and quality testing" says Phil.

These benefits are also acknowledged by Angelo Sarzola, Service Director for Hyster who comments "This initiative, with the tight collaboration between the Barloworld and Hyster teams, has been a great opportunity to have an even greater understanding of the cost of ownership in the life cycle of our product, allowing us to strengthen Hyster's position as market leader for reliability and service cost of ownership".

One project is specifically focussed on the Fortens IC trucks produced at Hyster's Craigavon plant in Northern Ireland, which manufactures trucks in the 1.6 to 5.5ton range. Barloworld teams have been providing Hyster Europe with specific data and analysis of parts failures so that manufacturing improvements and design changes can be made where necessary. The analysis has also enabled Barloworld to change service regimes and preparation activities to prevent failures occurring in operation.

"The key to identifying the root causes of breakdowns is in obtaining timely and comprehensive feedback from our network of engineers" adds Phil Marles.  "Detailed job descriptions and work activities that engineers input into their PDA's provide key information to the project team and, in turn, help us ensure the Hyster Fortens continues to be one of the most reliable trucks in the marketplace"

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