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Improvement Methods


Methodologies and evolution of OpEx

There currently exists several methodologies, techniques and tools for OpEx which can be applied to making manufacturing operations more efficient and which are used by XERC Inc.:


The first one of these is what is referred to as "LEAN" and targets the elimination of waste. Waste - in this context - is any non-value-added activity and process which a customer would not be normally willing to pay for and which adds no value to their product. Waste for example, can be excess inventory, manufacturing steps, motion, transportation, rework, defects, scrap, warehousing, slow/complex changeover of dies, etc.. This system originated in Japan by Taiichi Ohno after his admiration of the Ford Motor Company manufacturing process of the 1920's. He invented the Toyota Production System (TPS) in the 1940's and which was subsequently adopted and called LEAN by a task group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States in the 1980's. LEAN is used in organizations of all sizes - from an auto garage to the US Military.

The result of LEAN is FASTER manufacturing.

One subset of LEAN is called "Kaizen", where small improvements are made on a continuous basis and with a small amount of effort. Another process associated with LEAN is called "Total Productive Maintenance" (or TPM), which improves on machinery availability and maintenance resource optimization. One last process associated with LEAN is "Root Cause Analysis" (or RCA) in which tools such as Ishikawa diagrams are used to identify the root causes of waste, and provide innovative solutions to new products, designs and failures.

Six Sigma

The second methodology is what is referred to as "Six Sigma" and targets quality and process improvements by using quality management and statistical methods. It was developed by Motorola in the 1980's and adopted by General Electric in the mid 1990's. Six-Sigma is used mainly in medium to large organizations.

The result of Six-Sigma is BETTER manufacturing.


The third methodology is what is referred to as "XERC™" methodology, and targets excellence in Engineering Research and Calculations, expanding on the Six-Sigma concept of Design for Six-Sigma (DFSS) and Root Cause Analysis. It was developed in the year 2005 by Pedro Alvarez and coined in 2013. The XERC™ methodology of engineering research can be combined with LEAN and Six-Sigma methodologies to become a very effective set of tools for optimizing manufacturing efficiencies. It has many facets, but re-design of parts, processes and manufacturing changeovers to reduce the number of "touches" required to make a product [1], transformations, assemblies, steps and variations in manufacturing is one of its basis. XERC™ can be used in any-sized manufacturing organizations.

The result of XERC™ is CHEAPER  manufacturing.


All three methodologies combine to form the Lean-Six-Sigma-XERC™ approach to manufacturing that optimizes quality, speed and cost as illustrated in the following figure:



[1] Manufacturing "Touches" - an OpEx term used to refer to how many times one has to transport, move, position, set, adjust, store, pile, transform, weld, join, machine, etc.. parts to convert raw materials to a finished product.