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Six Sigma is a quality management process that employs tools and techniques aimed at enhancing the quality of process output, with its origins in the Motorola Company. This quality improvement is accomplished by reducing defects, irregularities and service inefficiencies in a manufacturing process (Bergman & Klefsjö, 2010). Empirical and statistical methods are used among other quality management methods. Products are converted to points, which are then compared against points on a control chart. If such products do not fall under a certain range, then they are considered as defective. Although quite similar to the Lean manufacturing process, Six Sigma focuses on eliminating defects while the former is concerned with reducing wastages.
Benefits of Six Sigma
The Six Sigma process, when fully implemented in this company will prove very beneficial to this organization. Some of these benefits will include:
Improved Quality: Due to its primary concern with preventing defects, this method ensures high quality of manufactured goods by reducing such defects to just 3.4 defects per million opportunities (DPMO) hence increasing their reputation.
Reduces variations and defects: The Six Sigma certified experts work in coordination with employees to identify any variations and reworks in manufacturing so that such drawbacks can be eliminated. This process leads to output efficiency and improved performance.
Promoting customer loyalty due to customer satisfaction: This is because the six sigma processes do not overlook its customers but goes a long way in understanding the aspects of its products that drive the consumer interests. (Breyfogle III, 2003).
Helps in defining and strategizing a company: by analyzing its objectives through conducting of SWOT analysis and defining its mission. This way, a company can then focus on areas that require improvement. Also, the employees stay motivated as they are very crucial in any manufacturing process. Six Sigma tools are designed in a way that focuses on worker welfare as well.
Implementing Six Sigma method
Two project methodologies are associated with Six Sigma including the Define Measure Analyze Improve Control (DMAIC) and Define Measure Analyze Design Verify (DMADV). DMAIC involves defining of the system taking into consideration the opinion of the customer. (Antony, 2004)Measuring the existing processes through a collection of data, then analyzing that data, improving the current techniques as per the data analysis and finally implementing control systems to prevent future deviations. DMADV, on the other hand, concerns itself with defining the goal by customer tastes, measuring product capability to obtain data, analyzing that data, designing better alternatives and verifying the design. The company will employ the DMAIC methodology which is further elaborated below
Implementation of this process requires the input of every stakeholder in the company including the top executives down to the employees. It will start with the identification of a project. It will involve a manufacturing process that generates defects or one that possesses variations. It will be followed by training whereby the company will train some of the brightest employees for certification in Six Sigma methodology. Qualifications in this field are put in terms of ‘black belt’ with experts being labeled as black belt experts. The process of formation of a team will follow where the black belt expert will be assigned green belt team members who will assist with the implementation of the project. Planning will be next stage where the chosen team will identify the problem areas and comes up with a solution plan by involving workers in such areas. This plan will contain the details of measures the team proposes to undertake in order to reduce such defects. Execution of this plan will then follow. It will be overseen by the black belt expert whereas the green belts will help the operations in accordance with the plan. At the end of it all, the evaluation will be conducted to access the success of the project as well as identify areas that require improvement in future. The success of the above stages and the Six Sigma process as a whole will require a big workforce of employees of the company. Materials and technology as well will contribute to resources. Training is of key importance from the executive level down to the employees with the attainment of black belts and green belts. The planning will require sufficient data for proper and effective execution.
Tools for implementation
Value stream map: This will be used to define and understand the entire current process to understand customer needs in accordance with DMAIC. Here, the value adding steps will be drawn horizontally while those that do not add value to be represented horizontally. From this map, the flow of information and materials from supplier to customer is well illustrated. Two maps, the current and ideal map will be shown. The ideal map is an improved current map after all the delays, inefficiencies, and excess inventories are done away with.
Pareto Chart: This will be used to measure the currently used processes. It will give a clear picture of the costs that the company incurs through its graphical representation. Both time and costs in manufacturing will be taken into account for monthly work cycles. The data for this will be collected from existing data files in past and current records.
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Process Capability: this will be important in obtaining both the process performance index and the process capability index. It will be essential in determining the variability in output from where a comparison can be made with the specifications or product tolerance. Representation will be in the form a histogram after calculation of the mean and standard deviations of the process. (Bergman et al. 2010).
Multi-Vari chart: these charts will be used to represent variation data in graphical form. These will enable analyzing of the variations in the manufacturing process as obtained from capability analysis by observing the minimum, mean and maximum.
Root Cause Analysis: This will be used for the sake of problem-solving.
Design of Experiments (DOE): This will be useful in improving the process by explaining the variations.
Kaizen event: Just like the DOE, Kaizen will be used to improve the manufacturing process by promoting the standardized programs continually.
Statistical Process control: this will be used for controlling of the improved processes by monitoring the process while utilizing a control plan that describes how to keep the process within its standards. Mistake proofing makes errors detectable at an early stage.
with any paper
- Bergman, B., & Klefsjö, B. (2010). Quality from customer needs to customer satisfaction. Studentlitteratur AB.
- Breyfogle III, F. W. (2003). Implementing six sigma: smarter solutions using statistical methods. John Wiley & Sons.
- Antony, J. (2004). Some pros and cons of six sigma: an academic perspective. The TQM Magazine, 16(4), 303-306.