Lean thinking, as well as associated processes and tools, have involved into a ubiquitous perspective for improving systems particularly in the manufacturing arena. With application experience has come an understanding of the boundaries of lean capabilities and the benefits of getting beyond these boundaries to further improve performance. Discrete event simulation is recognized as one beyond-the-boundaries of lean technique. Thus, the fundamental goal of this text is to show how discrete event simulation can be used in addition to lean thinking to achieve greater benefits in system improvement than with lean alone. Realizing this goal requires learning the problems that simulation solves as well as the methods required to solve them. The problems that simulation solves are captured in a collection of case studies. These studies serve as metaphors for industrial problems that are commonly addressed using lean and simulation.
This course covers the fundamental principles, practices and tools of Lean Six Sigma methods that underlay modern organizational productivity approaches applied in aerospace, automotive, health care, and other sectors. It includes lectures, active learning exercises, a plant tour, talks by industry practitioners, and videos. One third of the course is devoted to a physical simulation of an aircraft manufacturing enterprise or a clinic to illustrate the power of Lean Six Sigma methods. The course is offered during the Independent Activities Period (IAP), which is a special 4-week term at MIT that runs from the first week of January until the end of the month.