As a series of manufacturing steps, shoe making should be a perfect application for Six Sigma methods. We’ll explore two applications of Six Sigma in shoe manufacturing, one in Indonesia and the other in Bangladesh.

In an article titled Improving Quality of Shoe Soles Product using Six Sigma the authors Athalia Jesslyn Wijaya, Wildan Trusajis, Muhammad Akbar, Anas Ma’ruf, and Dradjad Irianto apply the DMAIC methodology to the manufacture of rubber-based shoe soles in TRC, an Indonesian factory.

The aim of the case study was to identify rejects and reduce or eliminate them.

From their pareto analysis of defects they found the six highest, which accounted for 96.82% of rejects.

Based on the data for these defects, they identified five CTQs:

  • Raw Material
  • Operator
  • Press Machine
  • Procedure
  • Work Environment

They did process mapping for the vulcanization and pressing processes.

Next, they identified seven root causes and associated solutions. Finally, they suggest some monitoring and evaluation strategies in the Control phase.

You can access their article here.

In our second example of Six Sigma in shoe manufacturing, Abu Jor, Md. Shafaul Alam, and Md. Jakaria Alam discuss DMAIC methodology applied to shoe production in a Bangladesh factory in their article titled Application of Six Sigma Concept in Shoe Manufacturing for Quality Improvements: A Case Study.

Again, the goal was to reduce the number of defects.

They identified 16 defect categories across the entire shoe manufacturing processes.

Next, they developed cause and effect diagrams for the six highest defect categories.

  • Toe lasting crooked
  • Too much wrinkles at toes and heel
  • Seam crooked
  • Wrong back  height
  • Quarters height up-down
  • Stitch tearing

During the Improve phase, they employed the 5 whys 1 how approach to identify the improvement methods.

You can access their article here.

Finally, let’s take a look at two recent videos of current shoe manufacturing.

The first is from Korea and shows the making of German army sneakers using old methods. You can watch that video here.

The second is from Qatar and shows Millenia Shoe Factory using modern methods. You can watch that video here.