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What Is Six Sigma and How Does It Benefit Manufacturers?  


six sigma yellow beltIn the “old days,” manufacturers had to rely on guesswork and trial and error to measure quality and determine the effectiveness and efficiency of their processes — and the results weren’t always accurate. The need for a more reliable way to improve business processes led to the development of the Six Sigma methodology.

First introduced by engineers at Motorola in the mid-1980s and implemented by noted management consultant Jack Welch while serving as CEO of General Electric in 1995, Six Sigma is a series of tools and techniques that rely on statistical analysis to make business processes leaner and more efficient.


The Five Six Sigma Methodology Steps


The Six Sigma methodology consists of five phases defined by the DMAIC acronym: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control.


  • Define – This step entails the identification of the specific manufacturing issue in tangible, identifiable terms. Specific objectives during this phase include identifying and validating the process improvement opportunity, developing business processes and defining essential customer requirements.


  • Measure – This Six Sigma phase involves measuring key aspects of the current process and collecting pertinent data. A primary objective during this step is understanding the elements of the Six Sigma calculation and establishing a process capability baseline.


  • Analyze – The analysis step focuses on determining and isolating the reasons for process errors. The goal is to seek out the root cause of a defect or issue that leads to customer dissatisfaction. The Six Sigma team will use the results of the data analysis to develop a plan for the next phase.


  • Improve – This is usually the most challenging step in the Six Sigma process, as it requires the development of specific actions to resolve the issues and causes identified in the previous phases. Activities during this step can include designing experiments, generating solution ideas, determining the impacts and benefits of the various solutions and developing a pilot plan to implement the chosen solution.


  • Control – During this phase, the Six Sigma team focuses on the development and implementation of a control plan to ensure that the key variables will remain within acceptable variances over the long term. Key activities can include identifying and developing replication and standardization opportunities and integrating the solutions into the daily workflows.


Benefits of the Six Sigma Process


Six Sigma implementation can benefit organizations in several ways:


  • Increased productivity – Eliminating bottlenecks and redundancy will enable a manufacturing operation to produce more goods in less time.


  • Increased throughput – A streamlined manufacturing process enables materials to pass through the production cycle more quickly.


  • Better quality – Six Sigma focuses on the reduction of mistakes in the manufacturing process, resulting in higher-quality goods.


  • Less damage control – A more efficient manufacturing operation reduces the time spent on “putting out fires.”


  • Lower operating costs – A leaner, more efficient manufacturing operation is also a less costly operation, which will improve the company’s bottom line.


Six Sigma Certifications


There are Six Sigma training opportunities that will lead to certification. Getting certified demonstrates a mastery of the various Six Sigma concepts as well as the ability to apply them to daily work processes. The progressive levels of Six Sigma certifications include:


  • Yellow Belt – Yellow Belt certification programs provide an introduction to the fundamentals of the Six Sigma concept and applications. Yellow Belt-certified individuals typically serve as project team members who provide support and review process improvements.


  • Green Belt – Green Belt certification demonstrates a more advanced understanding of the Six Sigma methodology. Green Belt-certified individuals work under the guidance of Black Belt-certified managers to resolve more complex process improvement issues.


  • Black Belt – Black Belt-certified individuals tend to be project team leaders who direct the activities of others and are ultimately responsible for the project’s successful outcome. There is also a Master Black Belt designation that represents a mastery of the Six Sigma concepts.


MANTEC Offers Superior Six Sigma Training in PA


MANTEC is your source for effective, affordable Six Sigma programs in PA that can help you and your staff attain valued certification. Our Six Sigma manufacturing training initiations are perfect for small and medium-sized manufacturing operations looking for reliable ways to implement process improvements and reduce waste. Register for a Six Sigma program or contact us for more information today.

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