Orthotics and prosthetics make it possible for millions to live improved lives. Lean and Six Sigma methodologies aid in that regard. We’ll look at three applications: one from Italy and two from the USA. Then we’ll look at a video from Össur in Iceland on making a transtibial socket and reference a short article on how Össur is using Lean manufacturing.


Applying Lean Six Sigma to Fast Track Knee Replacement Surgery: Italy


In a paper titled “Fast track surgery for knee replacement surgery: a Lean Six Sigma approach,” authors Carlo Ricciardi and others discuss the use of Lean Six Sigma applied to fast-track knee replacement surgery in order to reduce the length of hospital stay.

The paper includes:

  • Project Charter
  • Basic Stream Map
  • Causes and Validation Measures
  • The difference in Length of Stay Related to Variables
  • Run Charts: Before and After Improvement

Due to the project, the average length of hospital stay (LOS) was reduced from 8.34 to 6.68 days.

You can read the paper here.


Lean Manufacturing Used to Reduce Implant Production Lead Time: USA-Indiana


In a paper titled “Lean manufacturing techniques reduce lead time for implant production,” authors Anthony Metzinger and Niaz Latif discuss the application of Lean manufacturing to reduce the lead time for prosthetic implant production for joint replacement.

The paper includes:

  • Shoulder Implant Figure
  • Overall Plant Layout
  • Block Diagram of Layout by Process Type
  • Potential Lead Time Reduction
  • Takt Time Calculation
  • Process Observation and Determination of the Lead time
  • Lead Time and Work In Process Reduction Change

Using Lean Manufacturing techniques reduced lead time from 18 days to 10 days by reducing the amount of WIP inventory located between shoulder head manufacturing operations.

Click on the following link to download the paper.


Using Lean Manufacturing to Transform Orthotic Fabrication: USA-Florida


In a short article from Lower Extremity Review titled “Lean manufacturing transforms orthotic fabrication,” author  Emily Delzell highlights the Lean implementation by SureFit, a producer of lower extremity solutions for patient care, including orthotics.

According to the article, SureFit reduced its lab footprint by 30% and achieved other efficiencies, such as setting up a standardized gluing process and simplifying tracing.

Copy and paste the following link into your browser to read the article.


The Making of a Transtibial Socket


See the making of a transtibial socket in this video from Össur Academy in Iceland.


You can watch the video here.

In addition, to learn how Össur has been using Lean manufacturing, see the following article.

“Prosthetics manufacturer uses lean thinking to stay on top” by authors G. S. Friðriksdóttir and V. Jensdóttir.

You can read the article here.


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