Six Sigma Quality for Business and Manufacture

K. Narasimhan (Learning and Teaching Fellow, Bolton Institute, UK)

The TQM Magazine

ISSN: 0954-478X

Article publication date: 1 October 2004




Narasimhan, K. (2004), "Six Sigma Quality for Business and Manufacture", The TQM Magazine, Vol. 16 No. 5, pp. 369-370.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

To compete in the global market it has become imperative to reduce defect levels, improve cycle times and delight customers. Some leading organizations such as Motorola and General Electric, USA, have successfully employed Six Sigma (SS) quality programs. Joseph Gordon, of Gordon & Associates, Florida, USA, shows how the SS is used by companies.

The book comprises 8 chapters supported with 89 figures and 29 tables. The seven‐page content lists in detail what is covered in each chapter. The 34‐page glossary defines all the terminology used in the book. Fourteen checklists for business and manufacture form Appendix A. In Appendix B, the nine steps of design of experiments (DOE) are briefly explained with suitable examples. Appendix C (70 pages) contains SS quality control forms for conducting supplier surveys, supplier‐quality self‐survey report, SS team member self assessment survey, and useful forms for applying some of the SS tools such as check lists, histograms, Pareto charts, scatter diagrams, and control charts.

In chapter 1, the basics of SS are introduced and four‐step guidelines for SS implementation are briefly explained. The importance of collecting base‐line data, for future comparison, and communication among various constituents are emphasized.

SS implementation process is the theme of chapter 2. Twenty four‐by‐ten matrix shows 24 current quality systems in use and ten characteristics such as worker involvement, work methods, quality, product‐design, etc., which are common to some and not found in others. He informs that SS encompasses all the ten characteristics and more. The importance of management support for SS is emphasized. The application of quality function deployment (QFD) using “House of Quality” is explained with the aid of an example. The issue of SS Black Belt selection and training, the importance of the selecting the right champion, and setting up the organization structure for SS are explained.

In chapter 3, the reasons for implementing SS are given and how a SS team solved a complex problem in an engineering firm using a seven‐step problem‐solving process is explained. The need to document the program as it progresses, and not wait till the completion of the program, is emphasized.

The topic of chapter 4 is “Designing Operations for Six Sigma Manufacture”. The flow of information in translating customer needs into operations using QFD interaction matrices (House of Qualities for product design, parts design, process design, and process control) is introduced. This is followed by an explanation of the application of Failure Mode Effect Analysis process to predict suspect‐problem areas.

“Six Sigma Education” is the theme of chapter 5. First taxonomy for classifying quality problems is given; and the defining characteristics, key problem‐solving tasks and strategies and techniques for each type of problem are tabulated and explained. Also explained in‐depth are the concept and application of statistical process control.

In chapter 6, how to achieve an effective SS deployment plan is covered. The need for determining the cost of quality in establishing the baseline for SS quality improvements is emphasized and how to categorize quality costs are explained in some depth. The results that can be anticipated from using various quality functions are tabulated. The application of Pareto charting for selecting projects and the need for re‐engineering the infrastructure to facilitate SS are briefly covered.

The topic of SS improvements is discussed in chapter 7. First the importance of selecting the right software for SS quality from over 370 suppliers and 34 topics is emphasized. Then, the 1.5 sigma drift that may occur as the process nears SS control, process capability and types of appraisal testing are briefly covered. The leadership stairway (or cascade) procedures required for SS process implementation are also explained in some depth.

How to achieve continued success of SS once it is implemented is covered in the final chapter. The application of the MAIC (measure, analyze, improve and control) process to monitor and control SS process is explained. The role of concepts in stimulating the thought process to develop new ideas for change and the Ford Motor Company's method of problem‐solving are briefly covered.

The book is easy to read and covers concisely the theme of SS. Some of the chapters contain mathematical formulae that may act as turn‐off for some readers. Yet, this book is very useful not only for readers interested in Six Sigma, but also for those interested in the field of quality management.

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