FedEx was the first overnight express delivery company in the world and is the world’s largest airline in terms of freight tons flown daily. FedEx is also considered the world’s largest airline in terms of the number of aircraft. With over 375 destinations worldwide and one in nearly every country, it is extremely hard to find someone that is not familiar with the name FedEx.
One of the reasons FedEx has become so dominating in cargo transportation is because of the reoccurring contracts that are signed with the United States Postal Services allowing FedEx to transport their Express Mail and Priority Mail. These past two contracts allow FedEx Express to place drop boxes at every United States Postal Services post office. Needless to say, the United States Postal Service is the largest customer of FedEx.
The major strength of any company, not just FedEx, is its ability to work around the clock, utilizing all 24 hours in the day. FedEx has demonstrated their ability to utilize time more efficiently by capitalizing on red-eye flights. When cargo items being transported, such as freight, are on the ground in the day, those same items can be transported at night by FedEx for the “long haul” and the last stretch of taking the cargo item to the final destination can be completed by the ground forces in the day. Because of this maximization of all 24 hours FedEx has set the bar for all to follow in terms of productivity.
Six Sigma thinking can give a business fact-based situation to transform what are considered abstract scenarios and turn them into tangible solutions.
What is Six Sigma?
Sigma is a statistical term that measures how far a given process deviates from perfection. The idea behind Six Sigma is that if one can measure how many “defects” it has in a process, it can systematically figure out how to eliminate them and get as close to “zero defects” as possible.
To achieve the quality of Six Sigma, a process must produce no more than 3.4 defects per million parts. Three Sigma is 93.3% accuracy. Four Sigma is 99%. Five Sigma is 99.7% and Six Sigma is 99.99%. To scale, three Sigma is 1.5 misspelled words per page in a book. Six Sigma is one misspelled word in all the books in a small library.
Best said by Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi: “Perfection is unattainable, but if we chase it, we can catch excellence!”
What are the Process Improvement Methodologies?
Process improvement methodology has five steps: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control (DMAIC). These steps are designed to guide teams through a rigorous process of clearly understanding the situation and capturing information, enabling teams to look past the symptoms of a problem and identify the true root causes. After verification of the suspected root causes, the Improve and Control phases of the DMAIC process are used to develop solutions, organize and execute implementation plans, and monitor the results closely to ensure the realization of expected benefits.
And FedEx’s implementation of the Lean Six Sigma has increased its productivity and brought them a bit closer to perfection. By using Lean Six Sigma, FedEx has better measured their defects, or practices that are counter-productive, in their process and systematically found a better way to eliminate them and get as close to their goal of zero defects as possible.
It is becoming increasingly important that both quality and quality assurance are considered in any business that hopes to survive, let alone thrive. The FedEx organization has employed the Lean Six Sigma methods and techniques for better controlling of both their quality and quality assurance processes within the corporation.
FedEx has no competition with any other freight or cargo carriers due to one major advantage, its massive size. As of June 2016, the FedEx Express fleet consisted of 659 operational aircraft and another 89 on order, making it the largest civil fleet in the world! In addition, the average lifecycle of any given aircraft is roughly 22.2 years, meaning that their fleet 600+ is steadily growing because of the low rate of having to replace individual aircraft often.