Six Sigma: process improvement
In the 1980s, one of the most important electronics manufacturers in the United States, Motorola, was at a become point. The brand was losing more and more space in the market, and immediately needed to find the reason. After the unsuccessful implementation of various techniques and quality programs, the company still could not stand out.
After a very detailed analysis of all the company’s processes, a conclusion was reached: the level of waste was very high, both in terms of raw material and time. The amount of operational errors identified demonstrated that the company was basically burning money.
The result of this analysis was the creation and patenting of the Six Sigma methodology, which was subsequently implemented by several companies around the world. This methodology aims to improve the quality of processes and reduce product defects, with a focus on customer satisfaction. Six Sigma has evolved a lot since its creation, adapted and improved by the various companies that used it later.
Six Sigma is a product quality scale, with 1 being the minimum level and 6 being the maximum level of excellence, in which production runs practically without defects.
The program of the Six Sigma method can be carried out in virtually any organization, as it aims to achieve the best possible results after analyzing the processes. This is a methodology with several advantages.
The main benefits are the reduction of operating costs, the improvement of process efficiency and the elimination of defects in the final product. This analysis will also be able to improve decision-making, allowing resolutions based on the data collected.
How it works?
The Six Sigma methodology is based on three main points: measurement, discipline and structuring.
Measurement concerns the analyzed data and its reliability, and therefore it is important that these data are collected accurately. For Six Sigma, it is very essential to define goals based on metrics, so it is necessary to apply the effort and time that are necessary to obtain and organize this data.
Discipline for Six Sigma means commitment from the entire company’s team to excellence. Discipline here also means that this methodology requires a minimum program time for results to be achieved.
The structure of Six Sigma is through the DMAIC tool: Define, Measure, Analyze, Increment and Control.
- Define — The desired goals must be measurable and attainable, in the company’s reality. These should be seen as the company’s strategic objectives.
- Measure — The measurement here, as already mentioned, depends on reliable data. As the application of Six Sigma becomes part of the company’s culture, the accuracy of the data also improves.
- Analyze — Analysis refers to looking at the system and processes with a view to closing the gap between current results and targets. Statistical tools can be of great help here.
- Increment — In this phase, strategies are sought to improve processes as they are already done, without making structural changes. The goal is to leverage the existing process as much as possible.
- Control — At this point, the aim is to ensure that the goals achieved are extended over the long term.
The Six Sigma Scale
As already mentioned, the Six Sigma scale has six levels. The implementation of DMAIC plans to raise the company’s bottom line, consequently increasing the organization’s profits. The scale values are based on accurate measurement calculations, and this means that going up a notch on the scale is a big but possible leap.
Level 1 Sigma represents the hypothetical company, with little more than 30% of what it produces, while Level 3 Sigma already represents a company with efficiency of 93.3%. Level 6 Sigma symbolizes the company that has virtually no defects, being accurate in 99.99% of the products. A company that performs at Level 4 Sigma (99.3%) is already considered to have an acceptable level of quality.
The importance of the standard
The Six Sigma methodology is based on a fundamental concept, which is standardization. Business processes are varied in all their aspects. The standardization of processes and products makes it possible to achieve the best possible result with the evaluate resources.
When we talk about standardization, we are not just talking about the material level. As we said, the implementation of Six Sigma requires commitment from all people in the company, since it also means the standardization of processes. This means that a practical effect of implementing Six Sigma is changing habits in general in the organization.