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Table of Contents:

: Six Sigma


High quality is a core competency every organization should develop to maintain customer satisfaction, retain customers, and increase productivity. This ensures that customer requirements and internal specifications are met by an organization in its day-to-day activities. Competitive quality management systems continuously improve the capability of their processes to reduce failure expenses, such as warranty claims, returned goods, scrap, and rework. Table 9.1 lists several of these attributes. In this chapter, we discuss the roles of quality management from two perspectives. First, we discuss quality management relative to its classic functions. This discussion will include a brief history of some of the important quality initiatives deployed over the last several decades. Then we will discuss important quality tools and methods, from the basic to more advanced methods, with an emphasis on Six Sigma methodology.

Table 9.2 lists ten quality activities ranging from identification of the voice of the customer (VOC) to new product or service designs to enabling customer reviews of requirements such as drawings and specifications through the concurrent engineering (CE) team. Others include process auditing and creation of control procedures for new products and services, inspections of work, the evaluation and approval of testing and measurement equipment, fixtures, inspection procedures, and training. Quality assurance also performs capability analyses and product or service performance analyses as required by a CE team and has a role in developing quality control plans for new products and processes. This role includes


Competitive Quality Metrics


1. Customer satisfaction and customer retention ratings

2. Percent productivity due to quality improvements

3. Process capability

4. Percent of quality expenses spent on proactive versus reactive issues

5. Warranty claims, returned goods, scrap, and rework expenses as a percentage of sales

ensuring that failure mode and effects analyses (FMEA), specifications, audit schedules, product performance testing, and related supporting activities and documentation are created on schedule. Quality assurance supports the CE team by verifying that the new products and processes meet customer requirements during pre-production trials. This information is incorporated into an organization’s customer quality control plan. Quality assurance also engages in the day-to-day auditing, inspection, and management of production and other processes to ensure work is done right the first time.

The Six Sigma quality initiative helped coalesce various quality tools, methods, concepts, and theories of quality into a phased problem-solving


Ten Quality System Activities


1. Review customer requirements as specified in contracts, drawings, and specifications.

2. Assist the product planning process with the CE team.

3. Assist in the development of the design and process procedures with CE team.

4. Assist in the development of the sign-off documentation with the CE team.

5. Assist in the design and development of inspection, testing, and measurement equipment, fixtures, procedures, and training with CE team.

6. Assist with capability analysis and similar performance analysis as required by the CE team.

7. Develop quality control plans based on design and process information including failure mode and effects analyses.

8. Develop auditing procedures.

9. Assist in product and process verification with the CE team as specified by customer requirements.

10. Provide feedback to the CE team and the production team on product and process capability as determined by the quality control plan.

CE = concurrent engineering.

methodology applied to current processes. The tools can be used individually or in groups to solve specific quality issues. As an example, prior to the increased popularity of Six Sigma in the mid-1990s, there were specific workshops that focused on individual tools such as control charting, quality function deployment, experimental design, FMEA, quality control plans, and others. A problem with this approach is that the tools were not integrated into a coherent methodology to solve business problems. The tools and methods also did not appeal to higher levels of management or to associates who were not trained in their practical use. Because of these highly technical and acronym-filled workshops, organizations relegated the use of upcoming quality tools and methods to subject matter experts.

However, in recent years, diverse approaches to quality assurance and control have coordinated approaches and tool use for success. As an example, in some organizations, Six Sigma and Lean are used together as Lean Six Sigma. The International Standards Organization (ISO), which originally developed a set of auditing activities, developed updated ISO systems that recommended proactive approaches for process quality. Another example is the Malcom Baldridge Award, which acknowledges organizations that adhere to a series of standards, policies, procedures, and philosophies designed to improve quality. The Malcom Baldrige criteria were modified to make them more holistic and proactive from a process- improvement perspective.

Table 9.3 describes several common quality initiatives and cross- references their attributes. Properly integrating these initiatives has helped improve quality in many organizations. Several of these initiatives formed the basis of Six Sigma. We will discuss Six Sigma tools, methods, and concepts with the assumption that several of these initiatives, such as ISO, Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), Malcom Baldrige, Lean, and total quality management (TQM), are also operative in an organization.

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