Blog post

10 Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belts Awarded to Employees of Aurubis Buffalo

Buffalo | Friday, July 14, 2023

Six Sigma Yellow Belt recipients pose with Brian Manganello, Vice President of Operations for Aurubis Buffalo, following their Yellow Belt Presentations. Manganello is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt recipient.

Aurubis Buffalo continues sponsoring the Six Sigma program with their newest class of Yellow Belt recipients
On Friday, July 14, 2023, 10 Aurubis Buffalo Employees Presented their Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Projects at the Mosey Hotel in Williamsville, NY 

Six innovative groups comprised of one to three members each presented on the following topics:

  1. Increasing Accuracy of Manual Advices from Post 65S
  2. 40 Roll Rebuild
  3. 01 Bridle Separator Setup Area
  4. Improving weight variances of 23STW reel packages
  5. 5s Hydraulic Hose Rebuild Area
  6. Reducing Travel Time Between Workstations

Operating since 1986, the Six Sigma Program at the University at Buffalo’s Center for Industrial Effectiveness ( UB TCIE), teaches management techniques intended to improve business processes by significantly reducing the probability that an error or defect will occur. The overall goal of Six Sigma is to reduce errors in company processes while simultaneously developing employees into leaders.

Peter Baumgartner from UB’s TCIE was present during Friday’s presentations and spoke on the value of the program and the skills it sharpens in each participating individual.

Lean Six Sigma is a process improvement approach that uses a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing operational waste and reducing process variation,” Baumgartner said. “It combines Lean Management and Six Sigma to increase the velocity of value creation in business processes. It brings out and refines skills that all of you already have - leadership, problem-solving, and collaboration.”

As it turned out, the aforementioned skills were only a small part of a larger skillset put on display by Aurubis Buffalo employees. From traditional leadership was born governance. Arising from run-of-the-mill problem-solving was systematic calculations. Emerging from collaboration came partnership and authentic teamwork.

Presentation 1

Topic: Reduce ambiguity and improve the accuracy of manual advices created at Post 6.

Presenter: Jeff Tate

Problem Statement: Based on data collected since the beginning of the year, manual advices produced at post 6 have been problematic about 27.5% of the time.  Finance reviews the manual advices on a weekly basis to determine accuracy and completeness of the advices.

Goal Statement: Reduce problematic manual advices down to 5% by August 15th, 2023.

A manual advice is a formal document written for any truck shipment that leaves the plant and is not being delivered to a customer. These documents ensure that the company is fully knowledgeable on every piece of metal or other product that leaves the plant. Jeff’s project focused on the high percentage of discrepancies that have been systematically found from security post 6’s manual advices.

To achieve his goal statement, Jeff created a new manual advice template that walks the user through the form-filling process step by step.

Although a high percentage of manual advices depict false and inaccurate data, Jeff showed his optimism through his spirit of collaboration.

“If we (finance and security teams) all work together on this, I believe we can lower the percentage of faulty advices from 27.5% to 5% by mid-August.”

Presentation 2

Topic: 40 Roll Revitalization

Presenters: Erik Stachoski, Patrick Flesher

Problem Statement: 40 Roll has been idle and non-functioning for three years. When the machine is operated at speeds higher than 500fps the evaporation of the roll coolant is greater than the capacity and ability of the exhaust hoods to contain the coolant mist. This creates potential safety issues and increases the cost of running the machine since the coolant constantly needs replacing. 

Goal Statement: Find a way to contain all or most of the coolant that escapes form the exhaust hoods on 40 Roll, utilize 5s to enhance workplace organization and efficiency and lead the way of setting a higher standard throughout the organization.

After brainstorming with plant engineers, Erik and Patrick determined the most sensible way to contain escaping coolant mist was to install two fans on two of the machine’s stands.  The fans were positioned in such as way that they would blow any escaping mist back under the exhaust hoods. This functionality made up for the undersized exhaust hoods’ inability to contain all the mist.

By putting their minds together, Erik and Patrick were able to exemplify true Aurubis Buffalo innovation.

“We saw a problem and we immediately worked to find a solution,” shared Erik. “That’s the way things are done around here.”

Presentation 3

Topic: 5S 01 Bridle Separator Setup Area

Presenters: Tysheem Williams, Cody Westmorland, Dominic Paonessa

Problem Statement: 01 bridle tooling area is not organized and labeled. Tooling is all over and items are out of place, causing delays in setup which leads to a more strenuous work environment.

Goal Statement: Reduce constant delay in work by storing items in designated places.


Tysheem, Cody and Dominic set time aside to organize their work area by creating a system comprised of labeling and color-coding. Since implementing the new system, their workstation has seen a drastic decrease in work delays.

“We don’t do easy work,” said Tysheem. “Anything we can do to make our jobs and the jobs of others easier, we’ll do.”

Presentation 4

Topic: Improve weight variances of 23STW reel packages

Presenters: Paul Indelicato

Problem Statement: Because of ongoing weight variance occurrences of 23STW reel shipments at Post 6, an investigation was launched into the packaging process at 23 STW. Sample weight data was collected from finished packages. It was determined that the reel packages showed a marked weight variance from the 23STW packing scales to the shipping dock scale. 

Goal Statement: Reduce the amount of weight variance per package which will decrease the chances of a variance at Post 6.

To resolve this issue, Paul and his coworkers determined a set tare weight for packages. Before doing this, a standardized tare weight did not exist, leading to many weight discrepancies.

By subtracting the tare weight from the gross weight, the true weight of the goods can be determined.

The best part of Paul’s solution is that it can be used in many operations around the plant, not just at his station.

“While this project was specific to one machine and product type, there are opportunities at other packing operations in the mill to improve similar package weight issues,” shared Paul.

Presentation 5

Topic: 5s Hydraulic Hose Rebuild

Presenters: Jayme Dean, Rich Farner

Problem Statement: At times, hydraulic hoses are made utilizing the incorrect die set for hose fitting size. This can cause hose failures in the plant resulting in hydraulics leaks, downtime and potential safety and environmental hazards.

Goal Statement: Organize and label area to reduce the risk of pre-mature hose failures.

By the end of their project, Jayme and Rich re-labeled die sets and spacer locations, increased location visibility and improved overall workstation organization. They also produced a color-coded instruction sheet that informs workers which die set to use for certain hydraulic hoses.

When asked what inspired them to take on such a project, Rich and Jayme were completely candid.

“An organized workspace leads to a productive worker which leads to a happy worker.”

Presentation 6

Topic: Reduce time spent traveling with conduits between the electric shop work area and new construction sites

Presenter: Nate Kankiewicz

Problem Statement: Time and opportunities for further improvement are wasted on new conduit installation projects in the sheet mill, which require electricians to travel between the job site and electrical shop work area where threading and bending are done. Years of visual observations and working with electricians show that transporting materials back and forth often happens more than once.

Goal Statement: Reduce the time spent traveling with conduit materials between the job site and the electrical shop work area in the sheet mill by 20% on new construction projects.

In hopes of reducing time spent traveling between job sites, Nate conceptualized the idea of creating a mobile workstation for electricians.

“Currently, it takes an electrician manually carrying a conduit 43 minutes to complete a repair job,” shared Nate. “With the mobile workstation, it should only take an estimated 17 minutes.”

What's next for the Yellow Belt recipients?'

Rest assured, earning the Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt doesn’t mark the end of an employee’s company stewardship, but only the beginning. Recipients have the option of pursuing a green and black belt, both of which build upon skills earned in pursuit of the previous belt color.

All employee participants of the Six Sigma Belt Program are constantly on the lookout for ways they can improve upon what Aurubis is already doing - creating a better and brighter future for Aurubis Buffalo.