Six Sigma is defined as a set of tools and techniques for process improvement. In 1986, six sigma was developed by Motorola. It was developed by Jack Welch at central as a business strategy for General Electric later in 1995. Currently, it has been adopted by many industrial sectors. It is intended to advance the quality of process outputs first by identifying and removing the root causes of defects and minimizing the variability in business and manufacturing processes (Sokovic et al., 2010). Often, it uses a set of methods for quality management such as statistical methods meant for creating a special infrastructure within the organization. Every Six Sigma project carried out within an organization must follow a well-defined sequence of steps with quantified value targets, for instance: reduce pollution, reduce process cycle time; reduce costs, increase profits and increase customer satisfaction.
However, the term Six Sigma originated from the terminology related to manufacturing, precisely terms concomitant with statistical modeling of any manufacturing processes. In the same way, the maturity of a manufacturing process is described by a sigma rating designating its percentage of defect-free products or yield it creates. It guaranties a 99.99966% of all the products manufactured with a statistical free of defects, even though, the defect level corresponds to a 4.5 sigma level (Pan et al., 2007). On the other hand, Motorola has set a goal and an objective for all of its manufacturing operations, therefore, by word for the engineering and management practices used in order to achieve it. A greater majority of companies use DMAIC methodology, since they already have existing processes that contribute to wasting of resources. However, the outstanding minority of Six Sigma practitioners use (DFSS) Design for Six Sigma approach in order to design a new product for Six Sigma quality. The figure 1.0 below shows a six sigma conceptual model.
Figure 1.0 A Six sigma conceptual Model
DMAIC Six Sigma refers to DMAIC methodology. Moreover, the DMAIC methodology is used when a process or product is in existence at the organization or company that is not performing adequately or meeting customer specification (Mitchell, 2012).Currently, it is universally acknowledged and defined as encompassing of the following five phases: Defining phase, Measuring phase, Analyzing phase, Improving phase and Controlling phase. Tentatively, some businesses, four phases are used such as (Measure, Improve, Analyze and Control); Define phase deliverables are well thought-out to be a pre-work for that are included in the Measure phase (Williams, 2014). The DMAIC methodology is broken down as follows: Define phase is where the project objectives and customer both internal and external business requirements; Measure phase is where the process to define up-to-date performance in context of objectives; Analyze phase is where the root cause(s) of the deficiencies and variations are checked; Improve phase is where the process of eliminating and reducing variations and defect; Control phase is where the future process performance are monitored. More descriptions on these phases are noted below (Yun et al., 2009).
Define Phase: It is the first step in the six sigma process. It is significant to outline specific goals in accomplishing consistent outcomes with both the customer’s demands and the business strategy. Essentially, a road map for accomplishment is laid down.
Measure phase: In order to understand whether or not the defects are reduced a base measurement, the measurements are done accurately with the relevant data collected and stored for future comparisons. These data are measured in order to determine whether the defects are reduced or not.
Analyze phase: Analysis is exceptionally important when determining the relationships and the features of causality. In order to understand how to resolve a problem, cause and effect, it is extremely indispensable and must be deliberated.
Improve phase: Based on analysis and measurement, optimizing the processes or making improvements ensures that the defects are reduced and the processes are streamlined.
Control phase: In the DMAIC methodology, this is the last step. Control phase ensures that the variances are corrected and stand out before they influence any process negatively by causing defects. Controls are structured inform of a pilot that run in order to determine the capability of the processes and transition into standard production once the data has been collected. However, analysis and continued measurement must follow in order to keep the processes free of defects and on track below the Six Sigma limit (Mitchell, 2012).
DFSS is an acronym for (Design for Six Sigma). Contrasting the DMAIC methodology, the DFSS steps or phases of are not universally acknowledged or defined. Nearly every training organization or company defines DFSS differently (Yun et al., 2009). Severally, a company implements DFSS to ensemble their industry, culture and business; occasionally, they implement other versions of DFSS that are used by consulting companies assisting in the setting out. Due to this fact, DFSS is an approach rather than a defined methodology. DFSS is often used to re-design or design a service or product from the ground up (Williams, 2014). At least 4.5 are the DFSS expected process Sigma level for a service or product; nonetheless, it can be 6 Sigma or even higher than that depending on the product. Before a design is completed, customer needs (CTQs) and expectations are understood before being implemented.
One common Design for Six Sigma methodology is known as DMADV, and it holds the same number of phases, general feel and number of letters as the DMAIC acronym. It can roll off the tongue similarly to DMAIC. The five stages of DMADV are often defined as: Define Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify respectively (Sokovic et al., 2010).Define phase: In this phase, the customer requirements and project goals are stated.Measure phase: customer specifications and needs are determined in respect with the benchmark of type of industry and competitors.Analyze phase: In this phase, customer needs are met after a mutual consideration.Design phase: (detailed) the process to meet the customer needs.Verify phase: the design performance and ability to meet customer needs
Figure 1.1 Relationships between DFSS and DMAIC
Q2. Six Sigma is in use in virtually all industries around the world. Some of companies can be listed as: Motorola, Ericsson, General Electric, Sony, Ford Motor Co, CITI bank.
Six Sigma Process in Industries
Six Sigma helped General Electric to save $2 million in 1999 by controlling variations such as training, project selections and data management. With flexible DMAIC process, fact based results can be attained with lean project management in order to avoid wastage and utilize time specified if possible reducing the implementation time. Six Sigma has been categorized into three perspectives; Metrics, philosophy and improvement framework. As a metric, Defect per million opportunities (DPMO) is rated at 3.4 (Pan et al., 2007). On the other hand, philosophy, eliminated defects improves customer satisfaction with improved toolkits such as DFSS and DMAIC. Ford Motors trained about 10,000 employees in Six Sigma. The company used $6 million training license conducted by Six Sigma Academy. By training more employees under different three projects associated with black belt, Yellow belt, green belt and master black belt.
Ford team has recognized the fact that successful Six Sigma goes beyond the training, accessibility of data, huge amount of money paid to consultants, commitment of resources and resource management but also committed leadership and understanding of customer need and requirements (Yun et al., 2009). Motorola on the other side has successfully implemented several projects with the help of Six Sigma process, by training their employees, profit made through sales and construction of more branches in order to satisfy their customer needs (Mitchell, 2012). In an attempt to improve customer satisfactions and increase its market share, Ford motors adopted the six sigma process in 1999. Ford’s upper management immediately embraced the six sigma process as suggested by director of corporate deployment as a perfect tool for improving their main objectives namely customer satisfaction and quality. . Christened “Consumer Driven six-sigma”, the six sigma process at Ford is a three-tier quality management initiative composed of:
- consumer driven six sigma
- quality leadership Initiative
- quality operating system
Ford has witnessed massive improvement in its processes upon adoption of the six sigma processes. In 2011, the company raked in nearly $6 million in automobile sales globally, and a 16.5% market share within the United States alone. The company has also streamlined its supply chain through the six sigma process. Ford boasts to be the first automaker to adopt and implement six sigma in its operations. The consumer driven 6-sigma has led to huge quality improvement and waste elimination that has positively impacted operations. Since its implementation, Ford has successfully accomplished 9,500 projects saving $1.7 billion globally.
Motorola was also able to achieve 200 fold improvements and reported $2.2 billion savings with few defects being reported. Motorola Six Sigma is purely meant for defect reduction using quality metric. Reduction of defects and variations can be achieved through lean Six Sigma currently being done on General Electric, Samsung, Motorola and Ford motors.
The adoption of six sigma at the Motorola company improved quality and gave it an edge over its competitors. The Motorola Razr super-slim phone which sold several units globally was a product of the six sigma process. According to the Motorola corporate director of six sigma, their engineers applied six sigma in the phone’s antenna design keeping it concealed while still maintaining the signal quality and call clarity. The improved quality helped the company gain a significant market share from 15.4% to nearly 23%. Revenues also rose tremendously from a paltry $4.6 billion to $36.8 billion. In 1990’s Motorola company stumbled losing its market share to Nokia. However, the company adopted the analytical discipline of six sigma together with the creative processes to help it rebound and reclaim its market share.
Siemens Company changed its focus to six sigma with the main objective of improving overall business performance. Of more importance was how the process would integrate with other quality initiatives such as the ISO 9000 and the European Foundation for Quality Management. In its six sigma process, Siemens outlined the roles of senior managers and project managers in improving the business performance ad service delivery. The business managers are obliged to state the quantifiable benefits the organization aims to achieve through quality improvement. The senior managers can use six sigma to select the drivers or levels of improvement. Through six sigma adoption, Siemens has been able to identify and improve the customer database by application of the different improvement methods. The company has since concentrated on the overall organization improvement and effectiveness.
Citibank contracted Motorola University Consulting and Training Services in 1997 to train its staff on six-sigma process. The main objective was to increase efficiency in the bank’s operations globally. The initial stages involved training on cycle time reduction and Cross Functional Process mapping which were aimed at eradicating wasteful and bureaucratic processing requirements from the business cycle.
Initially, Citibank processes were manual which wasted a lot of time and increased customer complaints and dissatisfaction. For instance, if a customer wanted to do some transfer from his/her bank he would have to call, fax or email the bank and wait for several days before the transaction is processed. Several customers complained about the time it took for the transaction to be effected. While adopting the six sigma process, the bank’s primary objective was to decrease the defects and cycle time by 10 times within a certain period of time. After analyzing the funds transfer process and applying the six sigma process to it, the bank was able to significantly reduce the monthly call backs from 8,000 to 1,000. Additionally, Citibank was able to cut defects in its operations such as an account opening. There was a massive reduction in time required to open an account as team members were trained on how to track and document defects, identify metrics and establish operational baselines.
Mitchell, F. (2012). Six Sigma Basics. Available at: <http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/aeronautics-and-astronautics/16-660j-introduction-to-lean-six-sigma-methods-january-iap-2012/lecture-videos/MIT16_660JIAP12_3-6.pdf>
Pan, Z., Park, H., Baik, J., Choi, H. (2007). A Six Sigma Framework for Software Process Improvements and its Implementation. Available at: <http://suraj.lums.edu.pk/~cs661s07/Papers/03-03 Six Sigma and SPI.pdf>
Sokovic, M., Pavletic, D., Pipan, K. (2010). Quality Improvement Methodologies –PDCA Cycle, RADAR Matrix, DMAIC and DFSS. Available at: <http://journalamme.org/papers_vol43_1/43155.pdf>
Williams, S. (2014). Education & Training Plan Six Sigma expert program. Available at: <http://www.auburn.edu/outreach/opce/mycaa/documents/Business/AU - Six Sigma Expert- MYCAA.pdf>
Yun, J.Y., Chua, C.H. (2009). Samsung Uses Six Sigma to Change its image. Available at: <http://www.juran.com/elifeline/elifefiles/2009/09/Samsung-Uses-Six-Sigma-to-Change-Its-Image.pdf>