Seven Sri Lankans employed by the Brandix Group have earned international certification as the country's first Six Sigma Black Belts in the apparel sector, notching up another milestone for Sri Lanka's biggest exporter.
Brandix's 'magnificent seven' - six of the group's brightest young men and one woman - have now received the certification in the Six Sigma process improvement methodology promoted worldwide by management guru Jack Welch.
They have all received scores in excess of 90 per cent from BMG; the US headquartered Six Sigma Certification Company.
"This is a tremendous achievement by these seven associates and an important milestone in the Brandix Group's efforts to continuously enhance processes across all member companies," said Ed Fleischer, Vice President - Process Improvement.
"Three of the seven Black Belts have been selected to go on to Master Black Belt status, with official certification to impart Six Sigma training, while the other four have returned to operational positions in the Group and will drive the implementation of process improvement methodologies that will continue to lead to significant savings, he said.
The combined savings to Brandix from seven projects undertaken by the Black Belt aspirants during their 18 month training period alone has exceeded US$ 1.3 million (over LKR 140 million), Mr. Fleischer disclosed.
A disciplined data-driven process improvement tool focused on quality and customer satisfaction, Six Sigma targets at achieving fault rates of just 3.4 per one million opportunities. Tracing its origins to the early 1980s when Motorola commenced a process improvement project with Total Cycle Time reduction (TCT), a Thomas Group methodology, Six Sigma has evolved into one of the world's most exciting process improvement methodologies.
This is a tremendous achievement by these seven associates and an important milestone in the Brandix Group's efforts to continuously enhance processes across all member companies
Ed Fleischer, Vice President
A feature of the Brandix Group's adoption of Six Sigma methodology was that the first batch of seven Black Belts received instruction and sat for the examinations via BMG e-learning, a first for Sri Lanka. This was possible only because the Group had a strong foundation of process improvement methodology that began two years prior with TCT, which complements with Six Sigma, Mr. Fleischer said.
The first group of Six Sigma aspirants was formed in November 2004 and training commenced in May 2005. The Black Belt course was completed in January 2007. The Brandix Group already has three more associates on course to receive Black Belt certification early this year, and many others in training for the lower Green Belt ranking. The Group expects to have 50 Six Sigma Green Belts by 2008.
The selection process for the programme is exhaustive and designed to ensure that the best of the best are identified. The first Black Belts came from two groups of Management Trainees hired by Brandix in 2002. About 2,000 applicants in the first group were interviewed before 13 were selected. In the second hiring 10 were selected from another group of 2,000 applicants.
The Six Sigma Black Belts who have returned to operational positions in the Brandix Group will apply the methodology in many areas including yield improvement, marker efficiency, cut-to-ship ratio, machine utilisation, and on-time delivery, Mr. Fleischer added. These are critical aspects in process improvement that will contribute to enhancing quality, efficiency and ultimately customer satisfaction.
A fully-integrated total solutions provider in the apparel sector, the Brandix Group comprises the holding company Brandix Lanka Limited and 14 Strategic Business Units that produce casual bottoms, intimate and active wear, textiles, knitted fabrics, sewing and embroidery thread, accessories and hangers, and offer wet processing and finishing and fabric printing. Brandix is the single largest contributor to Sri Lanka's export portfolio. The Group is a preferred solutions provider to some of the world's best brands, including Gap, Marks & Spencer, Victoria's Secret, NEXT and Abercrombie & Fitch.