Six Sigma is a manufacturing methodology that can easily get confusing. With statistics and its vast number of tools, it is important to understand the basics of implementation for a successful Six Sigma project.
When it comes to integrating Six Sigma into your facility, there are two methods one can use as a guiding force. Both of these methods are based off of W. Edwards Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle.
The DMAIC process is the improvement cycle at the core of Six Sigma. This methodology is comprised of five phases:
Define the system, the expectations of customer, project goals, etc. specifically. Well-defined goals and expectations mean product specifications are clearer and more consistent.
Measure key aspects of the current process and collect relevant data; calculate the “as-is” Process Capability.
Analyze data to confirm cause-and-effect relationships. Determine what causal relationships are; take all actions possible to ensure all conditions and special circumstances have been considered and accounted for. Seek out root cause of the defect under investigation.
Improve current process using data analysis as basis for improvement. Techniques like design of experiments, poka yoke, and mistake proofing. Experiment with pilot runs to establish Process Capability.
Control the processes to ensure that any aberrations are corrected before they turn into defects.
Similarly, the DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify) is the cycle used to develop a new process or product that meets quality standards. Where DMAIC is used to improve existing processes, DMADV is focused on creating processes that will meet the customer’s needs.
Benefits of Six Sigma
Ultimately, Six Sigma is an extremely beneficial approach for manufacturers. Below, we have summarized just a few of the advantages a Six Sigma journey can bring:
Eliminating Errors— The end goal of the Six Sigma strategy is reducing defects and irregularities in production down to 3.4 per million units.
Sustained Quality— The methods of Six Sigma help companies find a root problem, then revise strategies to improve overall quality and avoid such defect-causing problems in the future.
Compliance— Six Sigma has a strong focus on quality standards, including standards that line up with OSHA and other regulatory bodies responsible for monitoring companies and products.
Training— Like many Lean manufacturing methods puts great emphasis on continuous education. The Six Sigma certification system also requires people at various levels mentor those at earlier stages of the certification process. Training is paramount to the success of any company, and Six Sigma stitches this value into the company culture.