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What is Six Sigma? Six Sigma Tutorial Guides for Beginners

Hello and welcome to our first blog on Six Sigma. Here, we will learn the basics of Six Sigma and why it is used by organizations. The six sigma is a process based on DMAIC methodology and minimizing the potential errors too within a product. With this blog, you would be able to define the Six Sigma, DMAIC, and the Design of Six Sigma or DFSS.

Topics to be covered in the Blog:

  1. What is Six Sigma?
    • Features of Six Sigma
    • Key concepts of Six Sigma
    • Myths about Six Sigma
    • Benefits of Six Sigma
    • Origin of Six Sigma
    • Six Sigma Key Elements
  1. What is DMAIC?
  2. A list of DMAIC Tools
  3. Six Sigma Tutorial Guide – DFSS or Design for Six Sigma
    • QFD – Quality Function Management
    • FMEA – Failure Modes and effect analysis 

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a popular discipline or process where you can focus on developing highly accurate or near-to-perfect products and services consistently. The aim of this process is to eliminate wastes and delivering the best defects-free product as needed by customers. Based on the structured methodology followed by the process, it will define the role for participants.

This is a data-driven where we need more accurate data or information to initialize the processes. This is all about putting results on Financial Statements. The sigma is a statistical work that will define how a given process deviates by achieves the perfection.

Features of Six Sigma

This is a business-driven multi-dimensional structural approach and includes the following benefits like –

  • Optimizing the processes
  • Minimizing the overall defects
  • Lowering process variability
  • Highly affordable
  • Increased Customer Satisfaction
  • More profits

So, the central idea behind the discovery of six sigma is measuring the total number of defects within processes. Now you could figure out systematically how to overcome these defects one by one and get closer to the “zero-defect” process. So, the failure rate should be negligible and the perfection of a product may go up to 99.99 percent.

Key concepts of Six Sigma

  • The attributes that are considered highly important by a customer should be set as Critical to Quality.
  • There are certain defects where we fail to fulfill customer expectations.
  • What could be the outcome of a process?
  • Delivering more consistent processes that result in stable operations.
  • Understand and implement what customer wants and feel that is Variation.
  • Focus on Six Sigma design to meet varied customer needs and also define the capabilities of processes.

Myths about Six Sigma

  • The concept was discovered to eliminate defects only.
  • Six Sigma is a process for engineering and production.
  • This is not possible to apply six-sigma to other engineering activities.
  • The concept is based on typical statistics.
  • This is just the training.

Benefits of Six Sigma

The six major benefits of the concept are given as below –

  • The success is more sustained
  • The performance goals are set for everyone
  • More customer satisfaction
  • The rate of improvement is accelerated
  • The cross-pollination and the learning are promoted
  • Able to execute more strategic changes.

Origin of Six Sigma

The concept was discovered by Motorola in the 1980s due to increase in product failures and defects. The thoughts of Bill Smith did a magic but he soon died of a heart attack in Motorola Cafeteria in 1993. It is based on many quality management theories for the delivery of an error-free product at the client end.

Six Sigma Key Elements

  • Customers will define the quality in terms of reliability, performance, costs, deliveries, time frame, services and more.
  • A Process is defined as the series of steps that are undertaken to design a product or service as per customer needs and expectations. The four pillars of the process include – input, steps, output, and feedback. The process followed by Six Sigma is DMAIC whose meaning is Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.
  • Employees are involved in the Six Sigma program and focus on their capabilities to satisfy customers at a larger extent.

What is DMAIC? A list of DMAIC Tools

Before we discuss on the process approach followed by the Six Sigma, let us have a quick look at how it works actually? Six Sigma is a quality management strategy where an environment is provided by management to support the Six Sigma program not as a standalone approach to satisfy someone needs. This will emphasis on DMAIC process methodology largely to solve any problem.

Further, the Employees or Six Sigma team are assigned projects that will directly impact the bottom line of an organization and maintains quality as per customers expectations. The Six Sigma concept is highly based on statistical techniques and also needs a little knowledge of statistical concept for the best implementation of the program. Now, let us discuss in detail what is DMAIC and list of DMAIC tools one by one.

What is DMAIC?

The process followed by Six Sigma is DMAIC whose meaning is Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.

  • During the Define Phase, we have to define the problem statement and the relevant plan for improvements too.
  • In the Measure phase, we have to collect the data and find out the current quality trends and the performance levels.
  • In the Analysis Phase, we need to define the measurement criteria for how to check the quality embedded within a product and the possible number of associated defects.
  • In the Improvement Phase, we will define the significant area of improvements based on each error type.
  • In the end, Control phase, the Six Sigma team will undergo the full-scale implementation and controls or monitors the system consistently to sustain the gains. 

A List of DMAIC Tools

There is a particular set of tools for each phase of the Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control process.

  • Tools for Define Phase:- Supply, Input, Process, Output, Customer or SIPOC Diagram, Voice of Customer or VOC (Pronounce as: V-O-c), Critical to Quality or CTQ Trees, Quality Function Deployment or QFD, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis or FMEA, Cause and Effect or CE Matrix, and Project Charter.
  • Tools for Measure Phase: GAGE R and R Variables, Run Charts or Control Charts, Cp, Cok, Sigma level (Z Level) and Defects per Million Opportunity or DPMO, and Anderson Darling Test
  • Tools for Analysis Phase:- Simple Linear Regression, Fishbone Diagram, Pareto Charts, FMEA, and Multi-Vari Charts or Hypothesis Tests
  • Tools for Improvement Phase: Brainstorming, Design of Experiments or DOE and Piloting and FMEA
  • Tools for Control Phase: Measurement System Analysis or MSA Re-analysis, Control Charts, and Control Plan

Six Sigma Tutorial Guides - Design

DFSS is business process methodology that makes sure that every new product is designed as per customer needs and expectations and that products are already at six sigma levels or not. For this purpose, the organizations will be using a variety of tools like QFD or FMEA that would help in measuring the quality standards as defined by the customers. These tools can also be used to give an entirely new category of products for customers.

With the help of DFSS, you can always improve the current service lines or product standards. If you wanted to implement the DFSS then the business system should be sure of customer requirements at the first level. SO, we can say that DFSS is simply used to design a new product or service as per customer expectations. Let us now see DFSS tools and how are they helpful for some organization.

QFD – Quality Function Management

QFD is a predefined standard for identifying or implement customer requirements. This is a systematic approach to understand customer needs and convert them into a set of design. Also, the tool will make sure that customer needs and expectations can be met in less time and manageable costs. The tool makes us realize that how much the customer needs are important to us and what are the strengths and weaknesses of an organization.

As per QFD guidelines, you should design a set of questions to ask from the customers and check what would happen if any product or service used by the customer will fail. So, you have to understand the effect of failure takes the necessary steps to prevent the damage during the event of failure. Now, let us move to our next tool i.e. FMEA.

FMEA – Failure Modes and effect analysis

FMEA means Failure modes and effects analysis, this is a pre-emptive tool helping a system in the identification of the potential pitfalls at different levels of a business system. Also, it helps organizations in identifying and prioritizing the things during the event of failure and determine the effect of failure on customers as well. So, you will get a list of critical areas that are necessary to focus to avoid fails. Keep in mind that FEMA could identify the critical areas but it cannot offer solutions to the identified problems. Let us further look at the categories of FEMA – these are DFMEA and PFMEA.

PFMEA means Process Failure modes and effects analysis and DFMEA means Design Failure modes and effects analysis. PFMEA is used when a new process is introduced to the system to uncover the hidden issues and how it can affect the system. At the same time, DFMEA is used in the design phase to find out the failure modes and their effect on the system. It is generally performed before the product is sent to manufacturing and all design deficiency should be sorted out by the end of this process. Now let us see what is FMEA Risk Priority Number RPN.

With the FMEA RPN, you could quantify or assess the risks associated with the process or design of a system. Higher the RPN, higher the priority received by the product or process. RPN is generally defined as the product of severity of failures, the occurrence of failures, and the detectability of failure. With the help of these three values, this is always easy to manage a product and ensure the safety of most critical operations. The next important term is the FMEA table. With the help of FMEA, you can define the checklist why defects occurred and how can you cure them. This table can be used for future references later.

After this section, we come to the end of our blog Six Sigma Tutorial Guide and covered all important topics that are necessary to learn by beginners. So, now you would be able to define what is Six Sigma, its benefits, key concepts, DMAIC methodology followed by the Six Sigma, DMAIC tools, and DFSS (Design for Six Sigma) etc. One more important term is Lean Six Sigma that would be covered in one of other blogs in detail.


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