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ELSS 2014 Program Committee 

This year, the IIE Engineering Lean & Six Sigma conference will be held in collaboration with the Lean Educator Conference. To take best advantage of the opportunities for networking and peer learning presented by the joint conference, the tracks include industry topics (with a non-exclusive emphasis on practices in segments new to lean Six Sigma), academic topics (in both research and education), and a special call for joint academic/industry topics, including needs for new graduates, industry participation in learning in academia, and professional education and training.

Track Descriptions

The following track descriptions go into further detail about the topics and resources that attendees will be able to explore during the Engineering Lean & Six Sigma Conference.


Industrial Engineering & Lean Six Sigma Track

Lean and Six Sigma have their roots in industrial engineering. Lean tools are traditionally used by industrial engineering to improve productivity and eliminate wastes while Six Sigma tools are originally used by industrial engineering to improve quality, reliability and defect level of products and services. Focus topics include:

Measurement – Industrial engineers use lean for speed and Six Sigma for stability and accuracy. The successful execution of lean Six Sigma (LSS) projects should have a direct measurable impact on outcome metrics such as customer satisfaction, employee growth, profitability, productivity and revenue generation, as well as process metrics such as speed, efficiency and efficacy. Talks covering theory and/or practice of these measurements are desired.

Simulation – The effects of process improvements on complex systems are difficult to predict without some form of modeling. Talks are solicited on theoretical and applied aspects of modeling and simulation of lean and Six Sigma systems in any area, including manufacturing and transportation systems, engineering, ecology and environment, education, etc. Talks on tools such as simulation-based optimization, decision making, agent-based systems, etc. are also appropriate.

Lean Six Sigma Industry Practices Track

These presentations share how lean and Six Sigma can be used to achieve world-class performance in a wide variety of applications and industries. However, new applications may require specialized process knowledge and careful selection and modification of LSS tools and techniques to be successful. Examples include:

Government – Governments at all levels are under intense pressure to use resources more efficiently. Early attempts to apply LSS to government processes look promising, but there is much to be done. This track will present case studies and lessons learned that will help practitioners succeed in their own agency’s initiatives. Discussions will allow members to collaborate and receive feedback from different perspectives, all with the knowledge and understanding of the requirements and challenges that are unique to government.

Healthcare – Healthcare organizations are not new to quality and cost-control initiatives, but powerful LSS tools are, in most organizations, only beginning to be applied. The purpose of this track is to share the fundamental challenges, success factors, and benefits in the implementation of LSS tools and techniques to healthcare processes. Talks on selecting and modifying appropriate lean and Six Sigma tools in the context of healthcare are particularly welcome.

Manufacturing – This session showcases how industrial engineers affect the manufacturing world using such tools as lean and Six Sigma. Industrial engineers work to eliminate wastes of time, money, materials, energy, and other resources, as well as to eliminate waste due to variation and rework. How do industrial engineers identify the challenges faced in the everyday application of lean and Six-Sigma in manufacturing? What did those industrial engineers do to overcome those challenges? What was the business case to tackle these challenges? Real world examples are shared by those who experienced them.  

Nonprofit – Nonprofit organizations face the same challenges as the for-profit sector regarding quality and productivity, but the nonprofit world has constraints that are not present in the general business world. This track aims to present case studies and lessons learned to help practitioners succeed in their own organization's mission, considering the requirements and challenges that are unique to the nonprofit sector. 

Retail – Retail is among the most competitive of businesses. Successful organizations need every advantage possible, including those provided by LSS, to be profitable. Retail operates in a unique business environment; among other things retailers have very close proximity to their customers. This track aims to present case studies and lessons learned that will help LSS practitioners succeed in the retail environment.  

Supply Chain – Today’s logistics & supply chain industry suffers from inefficiencies in freight movement, materials management, inventory control, quality sustainment, information management, and many other areas. Lean Six Sigma application in the supply chain sector has the potential to revolutionize this industry. This track will invite industry experts and cutting edge researchers from various segments of the supply chain sector, who will share their successful LSS implementation stories and know-hows’ with the conference participants.

Lean Six Sigma Case Studies Track

Case studies are stories with an educational message. A case is a description of an actual situation, commonly involving a decision, a challenge, an opportunity, a problem, or an issue faced by a person or persons in an organization. The decision-maker faced with the situation described in a case can choose between several alternative courses of action, and each of these alternatives may plausibly be supported by logical argument. In this track, lean practitioners will share real world cases of LSS deployment and present in-depth analyses of the challenges faced and the results obtained.

Sustaining Lean Six Sigma Efforts Track

Successful Lean implementation requires a fundamental change in organizational culture. However, many lean implementation efforts begin with much fanfare and fizzle out without realizing their anticipated results. This track presents strategies, tools and technologies that are necessary to develop sustainable and reliable lean systems. The target audience is business improvement researchers and business leaders, as well as managers and industrial experts who are at different levels of business leadership, but it is not limited to those that have successfully implemented lean processes.


Listening to the Voice of the Customer – Industry Needs for New Graduates Track

New graduates in industrial engineering and related disciplines will typically be expected to execute process improvements as an important part of their professional responsibilities. At most academic institutions, education in such methods is often lacking or ad-hoc in nature. The issue is compounded by the need for on-the-job knowledge and experience to really understand how process improvement works beyond the introductory level – only so much can be taught in the classroom. This track is an opportunity for industry to discuss the desired skill sets for new graduates and present experiences and techniques for integrating new graduates into corporate process improvement cultures; for universities to present their own studies of corporate partner needs and/or their plans and responses; and for young engineers to present their own experiences of making the transition from academic learning to on-the-job applications.

Collaborative Learning – Projects, Internships, and Bringing Process Improvement to Academia Track

One of the most effective techniques for teaching process improvement is to have students hear about and see real processes, and then work on them through projects or internships. This usually requires partnering with industry. This track will discuss partnering programs, including guest speakers, tours, or other ways of injecting some experience into courses; projects or project courses, which incorporate industry experience into on- or off-campus improvement projects executed by students; and internships in which students spend time in industry as part of their overall program. Particular emphasis will be given to innovative applications such as using student projects to bring process improvement to university processes or third-party processes such as student groups and nonprofits. Speakers are welcome with an academic view on organizing and using such programs, an industry perspective on execution, or student or former student perspectives on their effectiveness.

Collaborative Teaching – Academic Involvement in Industry Training Track

Some universities have sufficient in-house expertise to help design and execute training programs. These can be helpful for larger corporations and often are vital to smaller businesses, which cannot afford to create their own training programs. By offering training (and related services such as event facilitation), academics can also increase their experience with and exposure to real-world problems. Case studies and lessons learned on the development, implementation, and evaluation of successful training programs in both the business world and the academic community are sought. Submissions by academic/industry training development teams are particularly welcome.


Teaching Track: Responding to the Voice of the Customer: Teaching Lean in the University Environment 

A variety of approaches have been taken by educators to satisfy industry needs. The context-dependence and holistic nature of process improvement thinking has challenged educators to use a variety of advanced educational tools with mixed results to date. This track will explore:

Familiarization – Basic definitions, tools and process improvement philosophy can be taught to students, even at the undergraduate level. This is only the first step in the students’ “process improvement journey.” In an environment of constrained academic resources it is often the only one that occurs on campus. Submissions on the requirements for, and design and effectiveness of, courses to define and impart the fundamentals of process improvement are invited.

Integrated Teaching – Including process improvement techniques into the core of an engineering education is a more powerful, but more resource-intensive approach to teaching them. Submissions on approaches such as capstone design projects, internships or projects, integration of process improvement topics into core industrial engineering or systems engineering subjects, or inclusion of dedicated subjects into core curricula, are invited, with an emphasis on meeting the need for work-ready graduates. 

Dedicated Programs – Process improvement as an actual major or graduate degree program is a new and rare thing. Thoughts on the design, staffing, and execution of such programs, real or still in planning, are solicited. Experiences with overcoming barriers such as resource constraints, lack of precedence for such programs, and certification are particularly welcome.

Continuing Education – The creation and execution of continuing education programs are of interest. Synergy with on-campus teaching is of particular interest.  

Educational Innovation – Process improvement is a difficult subject to teach, but the holistic and experiential nature of the subject, and the diversity of the potential audience, challenges educators to use advanced techniques and tools. Simulations, active learning techniques, distance education, Web-based static materials, massive (open) online courses (MOOCs) – all may have a role in the success of process improvement education and teaching. Submissions are welcome on these or other topics of educational innovation applied to process improvement teaching.

Research Track: Research for Sustaining Lean Implementation and Effectiveness 

While organizations from manufacturing to healthcare have sought to implement lean and transform organizational performance, many still are not able to sustain the efforts. Anecdotal evidence suggest this is partly due to an overarching emphasis on lean tools at the expense of focusing on building a culture to promote the value needed; organization and industry specific differences, too, could pose challenges for cross-industrial implementation that necessitate further research into applying lean to such situations. This track will explore avenues for continuous improvement in lean research and practice for sustained and effective lean implementation. Topics include:

The Lean Organization – Organizational culture determines resiliency and successful implementation of lean concepts. Research is solicited to identify the determinants of successful and sustained lean transformations; those addressing organization culture-related aspects will be of particular interest. 

Emerging Topics in Lean Research – Continuous improvement is a cornerstone of lean research and practice. This track invites papers that address new perspectives in lean research that incorporate sustainability, identify and increase value for stakeholders, and other relevant emerging topics. 

Innovations for Lean Implementation – As lean research and practices mature, the use of models, simulations, and other analytical techniques that evaluate the effectiveness of lean tools across varied industrial sectors are needed. This session also invites research that introduces models for effective lean implementation. 

Future of Lean Six Sigma – The future of continuous improvement methodologies has been questioned; current methodologies are losing inertia within academia and industry, leading to an opportunity for promoting innovation in the field. Industrial engineering has been considered the main field of knowledge to embrace continuous improvement due to its technical capability, which in essence, is not being used fully by methodologies like lean and Six Sigma. This track is focused in creating a stage for new ideas both in academia and industry for the development of successful tools and methods in the area of lean and Six Sigma. Practitioners in academia and industry with an innovative approach for continuous improvement using lean, Six Sigma or other methodologies are welcome.

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