Integrating Lean and Six Sigma for Breakthrough Process Improvement
What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma is a term developed by Motorola to describe their management process for
achieving breakthrough levels of quality improvement. Six Sigma Quality refers to
processes that produce less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. Improving
quality performance from parts per hundred defective to parts per million defective
is possible only through a company-wide effort based upon the use of data and statistical
analysis tools. At Motorola this effort evolved into a formal organization of highly
trained and dedicated professionals known as Six Sigma Black Belts. Six Sigma Black
Belts plan, organize and improve process performance through repetition of a five
phase improvement methodology known by its acronym: D.M.A.I.C. The acronym stands
for: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve
Each of these five phases of the Six Sigma quality improvement process is completed
through application of quality management and quality engineering techniques such
as: Process Mapping, Process Failure Mode & Effects Analysis, Statistical Process
Control and Process Capability Analysis, Design of Experiments, Statistical Problem
Solving and Mistake Proofing. These techniques are used by the Six Sigma Black Belts,
working with cross-functional improvement teams, to define, measure, analyze, improve
and control product and process variation (one of the measures of effectiveness
required by ISO 9001 and TS 16949:2002).
Improving process and product quality from three or four sigma to six sigma results
in significant reductions in the cost of poor quality which can be as much as 20
to 30% of total sales revenue for a three to four sigma company. The cost of poor
quality can be reduced to less than 10% of total sales when process quality is improved
to six sigma levels. Motorola, General Electric, Allied Signal and others, have
reported saving billions of dollars per year from their Six Sigma efforts.
Types Of Improvement Expected
ISO 9001:2008 item 8.5.1, continual improvement, states that; "organizations shall
continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system."
In the sector specific requirements of TS 16949:2002, item 220.127.116.11, manufacturing
process improvement, states that; "manufacturing process improvement shall continually
focus upon control and reduction of variation in product characteristics and manufacturing
Improvements In Customer Satisfaction
There are three types of improvement indicated by these specifications. First, the
organization is expected to develop a process to continually monitor and evaluate
their quality management system to verify and maintain on-going compliance with
International Standards, Technical Specifications and company-specific quality system
standards (evaluated through internal and third party quality audits). Second, the
organization must develop a process to measure, monitor and continually improve
customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is a measure of the customers' perceptions
regarding the ability of the products and services delivered to meet or exceed the
customer's expectations (evaluated by customer satisfaction surveys and reports).
And third, the organization must develop a process to measure, monitor and continually
reduce process and product variation (evaluated by process sigma levels).
In addition to methods for evaluating process effectiveness, organizations are also
required to develop processes to measure, monitor, evaluate and improve process efficiency.
This requirement is found in item 5.1.1 of ISO/TS 16949:2009.
The Ford Motor Company's Q1 Quality System Standard provides direction to organizations
for measuring monitoring and improving process efficiency. Ford suggests that organizations
use Lean metrics such as: % value-added, dock-to-dock leadtime and overall equipment
effectiveness (OEE), to measure, monitor and improve process efficiency.
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