The Six Sigma methodology for energy efficiency: Federchimica 2014 Energy Programme.

Federchimica, the Italian Chemical Industry Federation, continues its 2014 Energy Programme [Programma Energia 2014], a project set up with the goal of supporting and promoting an issue that is strategically important for the entire chemical industry: energy efficiency.

The high energy costs in Europe, together with the fact that energy is a significant fraction of total costs for small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] – indeed, up to 20% of total operating costs –, has contributed to making the domestic chemical industry highly aware of energy consumption. During the twenty-year period from 1990 to 2010, this newly acquired awareness has prompted the development of technologies and processes that have allowed chemical companies to cut the energy cost per product unit by almost half. This notwithstanding, SMEs are still in need of support. The industry could further improve on energy efficiency by providing much needed information and promoting the advanced management practices needed to efficiently keep production costs under control. The growing awareness of these issues served as the mainspring for the 2014 Energy Programme.

Energy was the main topic at a 2014 Energy Programme workshop “The human factor as the key to success, also in energy efficiency” [Il fattore umano come chiave di successo, anche per l’efficienza energetica], which was organized in Milan on 7 May 2014 by Federchimica. Among the speakers at the workshop was Antonio Rottigni, corporate quality and process coordinator of RadiciGroup, who gave a presentation entitled “RadiciGroup’s experience in the application of the Six Sigma methodology to energy efficiency”. Commenting on his talk, Mr. Rottigni said: “Our Group’s constant effort has been directed at publishing and sharing on the net the individual competences and best business practices implemented at our companies, making available the achievements of a system-wide approach to improvement. This approach pursues the goal of improving the quality of the organization, while making use of the Six Sigma methodology.”
“Our objective is to apply this approach to situations and problems arising in the context of the most diverse corporate activities, such as energy related activities,“ Mr. Rottigni continued. “To this end, we have worked towards making the Six Sigma methodology as widespread as possible, also in energy efficiency related matters, by organizing targeted training courses. Today, in our Group, we have a sizeable number of staff holding Six Sigma certification: 25 Yellow Belts, 8 Green Belts and 12 Black Belts. Their professional skills are essential for the success of Six Sigma projects.”

RadiciGroup has long worked on integrating quality methods and tools, management system certification (quality, safety, environment and energy) and corporate social responsibility. The Group’s goal is the continual improvement of the quality and sustainability of its organization.
SIX SIGMA IN BRIEF… This methodology is a set of techniques and tools developed in the USA in the 1980s at Motorola. Over the years, this methodology has become the accepted approach to process improvement in all business situations and activities. Six Sigma projects follow the DMAIC process improvement cycle composed of five phases – Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control – in order to promote business and operational excellence. The Six Sigma methodology strives to achieve this objective by minimizing variability through the use of suitable tools.