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Six Sigma in the Spotlight

 Ellen Kehoe







By Ellen Kehoe
Senior Editor

Other than lean, two of the most downloaded topics from the expansive SME Technical Paper collection are quality and Six Sigma. Zeroing in specifically on Six Sigma, which is all about “zeroing in”—on defects, that is, we find more than 15 papers directly related to the subject.

Six Sigma was developed at Motorola in 1986 and became well known through its use at General Electric under CEO Jack Welch beginning in 1995. The sigma rating of a Six Sigma, symbolically.manufacturing process indicates its yield or the percentage of defect-free products. Although a defect-free goal of 99.99966% is statistically 4.5 sigma, Motorola’s goal was 6 sigma, hence the term by which the methodology is most familiarly known. Organizations from various sectors determine their individual required sigma level.

Identifying Errors

The Six Sigma approach, with tools from lean, is about identifying what we don’t know, emphasizing what we should know and taking action to reduce errors, explains Elzbieta Trybus in SME Tech Paper number TP05PUB78. Six Sigma programs eliminate most errors, reduce waste, reduce costs and make customers happy.

In TP06PUB117, Six Sigma is a roadmap to think beyond prevailing techniques and develop a breakthrough management strategy for waste elimination in a toolroom. Integrating the Shainin/Cosier method of problem solving and quality improvement with Six Sigma offers simplified calculations and standardized approaches with less statistical and engineering jargon (TP08PUB26).

Ford Motor Co. engineers discuss application of Six Sigma to the design of machining process plans for powertrain components manufacturing in paper TP07PUB24. Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) proved to be an important method for characterizing the critical-to-quality factors, as well as cost and time, from a robust understanding of factors that contribute to the requirements on surface finish, burr size, tool life and chip length.Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) methodology (TP07PUB24, E. Agba, E. Exner and P. Akinyemi)

A case study from a foundry setting is detailed in TP08PUB32. Overproduction of a cast component for residential boilers concealed a high defect rate, unnecessary in-plant transportation, machine bottlenecks and increased lead time. Lean and Six Sigma techniques reduced the defect rate from 50%-70% to less than 5%, and lead time was reduced from seven to 10 days to less than two minutes.

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More than 18,000 individual papers make SME’s collection of manufacturing knowledge the largest of its kind. Find papers on best practices, advancements, and industry trends. New papers are added regularly to this vital database for manufacturing engineers, managers, consultants, educators, students, and technology professionals. Search the library here.

Published Date : 10/1/2014

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