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Six Sigma

Lean Manufacturing Tools and Techniques

Six Sigma is a methodology that focusses on process improvement as a means to improve quality, through defect reduction. Pioneered by Motorola, Six Sigma is used widely in manufacturing, as well as service provision. The technique uses statistics extensively to identify and reduce defects outside an accepted range or ‘control limits’. The aim of Six Sigma is to keep the number of defects extremely low with defects typically being measured in parts per million - ppm. Process variability ideally should be minimised.

The methodology makes use of the DMAIC Cycle – that is Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control. Each phase of the Six Sigma cycle involves distinct activities.

  • Firstly define processes, customer requirements and project constraints.

  • Following definition, the measurement phrase involves collecting factual data and calculating defects, looking at frequency and reviewing variation.

  • The next phase is all about analysis. Analysis of processes, data, resources, problems etc.

  • Next the improvement phase involves identifying and implementing solutions, as well as evaluating how effective they are.

  • Finally the control phase monitors the project using statistics, documents the changes and lastly brings the project to closure.

Six Sigma implementation requires formal training of employees. Following certification they then facilitate improvement projects using the techniques to deliver tangible progress.

Master Black Belts are recognised as the highest trained experts, who are typically in-house coaches spending all their time on Six Sigma application and improvements.

Next Black Belts are trained and certified specialists who can facilitate 6 Sigma enhancement projects.

Green belts also require training, but not for as long or to the same depth. They will help support 6 Sigma implementation.

Yellow and Brown Belts also exist. They describe people who have passed the Green and Black Belt certification examinations respectively, but are yet to complete a project.

Finally, White Belt certification can be obtained following the successful completion of a single day of training and an exam. 6 Sigma training at all levels is widely commercially available.

What is Six Sigma? Neat explanation linking together some of the main tools and themes 

 DMAIC Lean Six Sigma Improvement Process

Six Sigma from wizkidrx

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