Title: Six Sigma in small- and medium-sized enterprises: a Black Belt project in the Swedish steel industry

Authors: Stefano Barone; Therese Doverholt; Anna Errore; Alberto Lombardo

Addresses: Department of Chemical, Managerial, Information and Mechanical Engineering, University of Palermo, Viale delle Scienze, 90128, Palermo, Italy ' OSTP Sweden AB, Sodra Industriomradet, P.O. Box 1004, SE-68829 Storfors, Sweden ' Department of Chemical, Managerial, Information and Mechanical Engineering, University of Palermo, Viale delle Scienze, 90128, Palermo, Italy ' Department of Chemical, Managerial, Information and Mechanical Engineering, University of Palermo, Viale delle Scienze, 90128, Palermo, Italy

Abstract: Many big companies around the world have solid Six Sigma infrastructures and it is easy to find in literature successful case studies. Conversely, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) generally suffer lower attention in the literature. This happens because SMEs have only recently approached the methodology; they have weaker connection with the academia; or they do not rigorously pursue the frameworks. This paper is based on a Six Sigma project in a Swedish medium-sized company that produces steel tubes mainly for hydraulic applications. The project focused on the improvement of warehouse activities related to cutting processes. This Black Belt project was part of a Six Sigma education at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg. The case study offers the opportunity to discuss general and specific issues that a SME faces in the implementation of the Six Sigma methodology and it contributes to connect academic debate to practical experience in industry.

Keywords: SMEs; small and medium-sized enterprises; six sigma; black belt project; black belt education; Sweden; steel tubes; hydraulics.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSSCA.2014.064259

International Journal of Six Sigma and Competitive Advantage, 2014 Vol.8 No.2, pp.125 - 146

Accepted: 20 May 2014
Published online: 11 Aug 2014 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article