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How to use Six Sigma for a new design

Whether you need to design a new product or service, or redesign a process that requires breakthrough improvement, companies are using DMADV to its fullest extent. Studies have showed that an average DMADV project saves $200,000 in "hard benefits.

The fundamentals of Six Sigma doctrine assert that:

  • Continuous efforts to achieve stable and predictable process results (i.e., reduce process variation) are of vital importance to long-term business success.

  • All manufacturing and business processes have characteristics that can be measured, analyzed, improved, and controlled.

  • Achieving sustained quality improvement requires true commitment, from the entire organization, particularly from top-level management.

  • There are certain features that set Six Sigma apart from previous quality improvement initiatives. These include:

  • Having a clear focus on achieving measurable and quantifiable financial returns from any Six Sigma project.

  • An increased emphasis on strong, passionate and committed management leadership and support.

  • A special infrastructure of "Champions," "Master Black Belts," "Black Belts," "Yellow Belts", etc. to lead and implement the Six Sigma approach.

  • It should be noted that even though the methodology is very structured, and many organizations swear by its merits, Six Sigma is just one approach that strives for many of the same goals as TQM (Total Quality Management) and other process-improvement methods. Six Sigma was created from many existing tools in the field of quality assurance, and the basic concepts it incorporates are not proprietary to or owned by Motorola, GE, or any of the other organizations that facilitated its refinement, widespread use, and success. One strategic objective of any business is the continual improvement of its processes, in order to gain competitive advantage, enhance its performance, and benefit interested parties such as customers, employees, and shareholders. In many situations, however, improving a process is not a sound business option. Rather, a complete process re-design is required, and this is where DMADV becomes the process.

DMADV is the Six Sigma methodology that focuses on process design/re-design. Each letter of the acronym stands for part of the process. The method is outlined as follows:

  • D=Define-This is the step where the project purpose and scope are established.

  • M=Measure-At this point the voice-of-the-customer data are translated into Critical to Quality characteristics (i.e., design measurements) that the design must meet.

  • A=Analyze-The project team will then generate innovative concepts, evaluate and select the best concept for the design.

  • D=Design-High-level designs are then developed and tested, at this step.

  • V=Verification-Employees will then verify against design requirements, and validate for the intended use. This is then followed by transitioning the new design to process owners for rollout, implementation and control, completing the DMADV methodology.

This methodology is done by the following people-
  • Green Belts are those employees who lead and execute process-level improvement projects.

  • Black Belts are the technical leaders who implement the principles, practices, and techniques of Six Sigma that are used for maximum cost reductions.

  • Master Black Belts function as Black Belts and guide Black and Green Belts.

It should be noted that DMADV seeks to avoid manufacturing/service process problems by using and focusing in on customer requirement techniques and proper systems engineering to avoid process problems at the outset. When properly combined, these methods obtain the needs of the customer, and derive engineering system parameter requirements that increase product and service effectiveness in the eyes of the customer. This in turn yields products and services, that provide greater customer satisfaction and increased market share. These techniques also include tools and processes that can predict, model, and simulate, the product delivery system (including the processes/tools, personnel and organization, training, facilities, and logistics that are needed to produce the product/service).This methodology can also be used to directly measure and analyzed the changes in response to customer satisfaction needs.

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