What Is Six Sigma?


Six Sigma is many things, and it would perhaps be easier to list all the things that Six Sigma is not. Six Sigma can be seen as: a vision; a philosophy; a symbol; a metric; a goal; a methodology.”
– Geoff Tennant, Six Sigma: SPC and TQM in Manufacturing and Services

Six Sigma is a registered trademark of Motorola, credited as being the first to coin the term and to implement it in organization-wide processes. Jack Welch of GE popularized its use, and today companies like  Honeywell, 3M, Ford, and PepsiCo, as well as us at Boxman Studios, apply Six Sigma principles on our production lines. So what exactly does this mean?

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Efficiency Through Precision

The goal of Six Sigma is to optimize processes to produce no more than 3.4 defects per million. When Motorola started using Six Sigma, they realized $16 billion in savings. They were able to do this by continuously looking for areas in which to increase efficiency, reduce variability, and cut back waste in their processes. The focus is on the end product and the level of quality that the customer needs. Lean Six Sigma, which is a slightly different philosophy, concentrates on eliminating wasteful steps so that only those which increase quality remains.

GE has been a vocal advocate for Six Sigma. Its plastics division was at one point deemed ineligible to bid on Sony CD-ROM contracts because their quality did not meet Sony’s standards. GE called in a Six Sigma Black Belt (someone trained and certified to lead Six Sigma projects) to analyze their process and find areas for improvement. This analysis quality increased from 3.9 sigma – 12,000 defects per million – to 5.7 Sigma – 10 defects per million. GE not only bid on the next contract, they won it.

Six Sigma Black Belt At Boxman Studios

As a Six Sigma Black Belt, I can analyze Boxman’s production processes and find ways to make them more efficient. As we grow, we are implementing techniques used by Toyota and other top lean companies. Just-in-time, 5S, Milk Runs, and other practices help us work more efficiently and return better quality and value to our clients.

Our line is a production line, not that dissimilar from any other manufacturing facility. When we can look at our cut departments, heavy and light metal fabrication lines, plumbing and electrical, fine finishes, and paint processes, we find areas to improve. The key to the Six Sigma concept is that revisions are continuous. We are always working to get better at what we do and how we do it. The end goal is always to bring a high-quality product to our customers in the fastest, most efficient way possible.

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