case study

Industry: Chemical Manufacturing

Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) Production Capacity & Variability Reduction

FOCUS: Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) production capacity and variability reduction


A major chemical company required significant improvements in their Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) and Ethanol Separation Unit to improve production capacity and reduce variability.


A Lean Six Sigma improvement team reviewed the process and established sound process metrics based on customer needs and specifications. The process capability was understood, as well as the critical factors required to control variation. Using data collected using Design of Experiments (DOE) and by applying various statistical tools, the team identified changes to the process that should be implemented to reduce variability. The team also modeled alternatives to improve process capacity. As a result:
– The process Cpk was increased from .77 to 4.3
– Normal production rates for MEK and Ethanol improved more than 4% above previous maximum rate
– Ethanol losses were significantly reduced.


Significant improvements in annualized ROI were realized, including $100 million for MEK, $70 million for Ethanol and additional Soft savings of $25 million.

* Due to nondisclosure agreements, the organization referenced in this example cannot be disclosed.