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NS offers Six Sigma training to suppliers, small-road partners


It's taken Norfolk Southern Railway officials more than three years to master Six Sigma, a science-based problem-solving methodology designed to improve customer satisfaction, eliminate unnecessary work processes and reduce costs. Now, officials are offering Six Sigma training to the Class I's vendors and small-road partners, according to NS' July newsletter.

"If we involve our customers and suppliers in Six Sigma, we benefit as well [because] not only do their processes improve, but we begin to speak the same language," said Mike Greene, NS manager of payroll accounting.

Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) Vice President Charlie Lynch recently completed NS' course for "greenbelts," who dedicate a minimum of 30 percent of their time to improving processes within their department.

"It was a very good experience, because it opens your eyes to problem-solving, using data instead of the 'I think/I feel' approach," he said. "You let the numbers do all the talking and solve it from there."

A second FECR employee is training to become a greenbelt and Lynch plans to enter a course designed for "blackbelts," who devote all their time to process improvements.

"The Six Sigma learning experience will help Norfolk Southern and FECR's partnership achieve desired business and profit levels," said Lynch.

The Six Sigma training program now includes realistic railroad situations, said Greene, a certified blackbelt.