From Accelerated Product Development: Combining Lean and Six Sigma for Peak Performance

OVERVIEW

Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) represents the second topic related to improving product quality through product development. As the words "design for" imply, DFSS strives to proactively improve quality by preventing defects and reducing variation during the design phase of developing products. Consequently, the key objectives of Design for Six Sigma are:

  • Predict the quality level of new product designs

  • Design quality into new products

  • Improve the quality of existing products

THE MEANING OF SIGMA

The term sigma (symbolically represented by the Greek letter of the same name [ ?]) refers to standard deviation, which is a measure of the variation or scatter in a process. Within business and industry, the sigma value is a metric that indicates how well a process is performing, compared to the benchmark value of six sigma (6 ?). Sigma measures the capability of a process to perform defect-free work. A defect is anything that may result in customer dissatisfaction.

The common measurement for six sigma is defects per unit, where a unit can be virtually anything: a component, an administrative form, a piece of material, a line of software code, and so on. The sigma value is a quality measurement that indicates how often a defect is likely to occur. The higher the sigma value, the less likely a process will produce defects. As sigma increases, cycle time and cost decreases, and customer satisfaction increases.

So what does it mean to be six sigma? Consider a process that produces...

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