This is one of the engineering and manufacturing methodologies available in improving productivity. The methodology also seeks to eliminate waste in the manufacturing and development process for a new process or technology. The origin of this methodology dates back to the year 1986, when engineer Bill Smith was working with Motorola. Ever since, this technique has been refined and has been widely embraced in several industrial sectors.
As already argued, the aim of this method is to ensure that the quality of any industrial process is increased and improved. This can be achieved by removing possible causes of foreseeable defects. The method also emphasizes on minimizing variability (Radhakrishnan, 2011). Because of this important role the method plays, there is a need to understand how it works. The method makes use of quality management methods such as statistical methods and empirical data. It then identifies people in the organization who have expertise in the methods argued above. The project in question is then adequately defined as regards to the steps and sequences that will be followed in achieving it. All this time, the organization’s targets at every step are noted down. Some of the value targets in any project employing the six sigma methods include to reduce pollution, to increase customer satisfaction, to reduce costs, to increase profits, and to reduce the cycle time process.
Advantages of six sigma
Six sigma has advantages in any industrial process. Additionally, it has several advantages over the other methodologies used to control quality. First, this method is customer driven. This implies that the process emphasizes on ensuring the end product of a process is perfect to meet the intended standards. Under this, any issue that the producer considers as not being important or acceptable to the customer is taken to be a defect, hence quickly eliminated (Ebrahimi et al. 2013). With this being the case, the method emphasizes on a step by step approach and eliminating all possible defects that can be thought of. This makes it a proactive method. Possible and potential improvements of the product are considered, even before the process of producing the product commences.
The second advantage that this method has over other methods is that it is easy to design and apply. In a nutshell, one only needs to understand the various steps and processes the production process will undergo. After this, one is required to understand the customer needs they intend to meet. This enables them understand the possible defects that may hinder them achieving this target. All this helps the producer to have a step by step opportunity to eliminate the defects, so that the final product meets the required standards.
Despite the above advantages of the six sigma method, it has a number of disadvantages that make its use a threat in the production process. The main criticism and disadvantage of the six sigma process is that it over-relies on statistical tools. This makes the system rigid when compared to other methods. In practice, an organization or company that is keen in employing the six sigma approach ought to pay more attention to reducing variation. When this is the case, there is no doubt that less attention will be dedicated to developing a robust system. There is evidence that making use of the techniques of multiple regression tends to increase of making mistakes and errors that are commonly-unknown. This means that the method may not be as attractive as it looks on the face value. Such problems are mostly experienced by inexperienced organizations that seek to use this technique for the first time.
The six sigma method also has the disadvantage of curbing creativity in any research process. As a matter of fact, the method leads to an increment in innovation. Because this is the case, research is not given any priority, and is often ignored. In his study, Does seeks to explain why the lean dynamics approach or method is better as compared to the six sigma method. In this book, he provides adequate data that proves the fact that the six sigma method does not change the fortunes of the produces (Does, 2004). This rigidity and lack of flexibility has been quoted by many as a significant disadvantage in any production method.
The last major disadvantage of the six sigma method is that it lacks systematic documentation. Whereas the method can be said to be powerful, it risks dominating the culture of the organization. Organizations that use this method are more likely to put their emphasis on the literature of the six sigma at the expense of any other aspect of production. This brings about lack of academic rigor in the production process. This has been a major criticism channeled towards this method by the proponents of the lean dynamics method.
The six sigma approach makes use of various tools to ensure that defects in the production process are minimized. The most important tool entails properly defining the problem, defining how to improve the opportunity and the necessary requirements (Einführung in Six Sigma, n.d). Under this, there is need for an organization to clearly define the project charter, the demands of the customer and the value stream map. All these help come up with a process that takes care of the needs of the client. This is the tool I would use most.
Does, R. J., & De Mast, J. (2014). Six Sigma Method. Wiley StatsRef: Statistics Reference Online. doi:10.1002/9781118445112.stat04279
Ebrahimi, M. M., Helaoui, M., & Ghannouchi, F. M. (2013). Delta-sigma-based transmitters: Advantages and disadvantages. IEEE Microwave Magazine, 14(1), 68-78. doi:10.1109/mmm.2012.2226541
Einführung in Six Sigma. (n.d.). Six Sigma, 7-35. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-74212-8_2
Radhakrishnan, R. (2011). Applying Six Sigma Concepts, Techniques and Method for Service Management: Business and IT Service Management (BSM & ITSM). Six Sigma Projects and Personal Experiences. doi:10.5772/17222