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Chris Bell

Understanding Six Sigma and its Role in Manufacturing



Part of running a business successfully is knowing which methodologies to apply to ensure that operations carry on smoothly. In manufacturing, Six Sigma is one of the approaches that companies use to improve processes. Six Sigma can be used in different areas of manufacturing, including operations, production and quality. A manufacturing enterprise must ensure that the employees who need to get the proper training. A Six Sigma green belt course can help workers understand what this method is all about and how to implement its tenets in a manufacturing business. Learning a few basics of Six Sigma can help get acquitted with the approach.

What is Six Sigma

It refers to a set of techniques that are designed to enhance business processes by eliminating errors in a service, product or process. Statistical methods are applied to reduce the number of issues that may affect the degree of quality that a manufacturing company provides its customers. The Six Sigma approach was first used by an engineer for Motorola in the 1980s. Since then, the method has made its way into various aspects of business. It involves five steps to identify weaknesses in processes and products, and these include define, measure, analyse, improve and control. The methodology works by analysing statistical data the predicting error rates. By ensuring that a process or product has the least amount of errors before it gets to the consumer, a company improves its quality standards.

Six Sigma Functionality in Manufacturing

The biggest contribution that the manufacturing sector receives from Six Sigma is the ability to identify problems. With this statistical-based method, a company can learn what it has to improve on. For instance, if you find out that your inventory lead times are too lengthy, you can institute measures to reduce them resulting in increased outputs.

Implementing Six Sigma in production processes can help save resources. When a company minimises defective products, it means that it doesn’t have to spend resources correcting them. Human error contributes to some of the biggest losses in revenues. When a manufacturer has to recall products because of a faulty component or poor design, it eats into the bottom line. An enterprise saves on raw materials, labour and energy, among others.

Most enterprises may not consider it, but Six Sigma can play a big part in reducing accidents on manufacturing floors and other areas. Some of the weaknesses in your processes may be putting workers at risk. By identifying them and working out viable solutions, you eliminate or at least minimise those threats.

Besides manufacturing processes, Six Sigma can be used in other areas of the business like customer service. By evaluating customer requirements, a company can re-strategise its customer service to suit its target audience.

Limitations

As with any other methodology, Six Sigma has its shortcomings, which a company must be aware of. For one, measuring the effectiveness of the technique is difficult. It is why most enterprises pair it with lean manufacturing so that the concrete factors used in the process can compensate for the inadequacies of Six Sigma.

Six Sigma is a time-tested approach that has helped manufacturing companies to improve the quality of goods and services. Through training, employees can learn about Six Sigma and how to incorporate it with lean to get the most efficient results in a manufacturing enterprise. With the right implementation, a company can develop products and services that meet customer needs.