objective of the article:
explain the concept of six sigma. Give an example.
advantages and disadvantages of six sigma.
Prepare a list
of companies that have implemented six sigma.
Definition and explanation of six sigma:
Motorola popularized the use of stringent quality standards more than 30
years ago through a trade marked quality improvement program called six
Very simply, six sigma is a quality standard that establishes a goal
of no more than 3.4 defects per million units or procedures. What does the
name mean? Sigma is the Greek letter that statisticians use to define a
standard deviation from a bell curve. The higher the sigma, the fewer the
deviation from the norm--that is the fewer the defects. At one sigma, two
thirds of what-ever is being measured falls within the curve. Two sigma
covers about 95 percent. At six sigma, you are about as close to defect-free
as you can get. It is an ambitious quality goal! Although it may be an
extremely high standard to achieve, many quality driven businesses are using
it and benefiting from it. For example, General Electric realized
approximately $8 billion in savings through its six sigma program from 1999
to 2002, according to company executives. Other well known companies
pursuing this program include ITT industries, Dow chemical 3M Company,
American Express, Sony Corporation, Nokia Corporation and Johnson and
Johnson. Although manufacturers seem to make up the bulk of six sigma users,
service companies such as financial institutions, retailers and health care
organizations are beginning to apply it. What impact can it have? Let us
look at an example.
It used to take
well-mark Inc., a
managed-care health care company, 65 days or more to add a new doctor to its
Blue cross & Blue shield association medical plans. Now thanks to six sigma,
the company discovered that half the process it used were redundant. With
those unnecessary steps gone, the job now gets done in 30 days or less and
with reduced staff. The company also has been able to reduce its
administrative expenses by $3 million per year, an amount passed on to
consumers through lower health insurance premiums.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Six Sigma:
Six Sigma has its both
advantages and disadvantages, Following are some points which we have
� Six Sigma aims to maximize customer satisfaction and minimize defects -
Globalization and instant access to information, products and services
continue to change the way our customers conduct business. Today's
competitive environment leaves no room for error. We must delight our
customers and relentlessly look for new ways to exceed their expectations.
This is why Six Sigma Quality has become a part of our culture.
� Six Sigma is far more in depth than this document has illustrated. It is a
tool that if used correctly, can identify key areas of business processes
that need attention to lower defect rates. One of the greatest advantages is
that all the measured improvements achieved through this technique can be
directly converted into financial results. In fact, more and more
shareholders even require that Six Sigma method be implemented.
� In the sales field there is an old saying; "Eagles never fly with doves.
But to find angles you go through lots of doves." In today's world there is
so much information on turnover based on specific industries so baseline the
norm should be easy to come up with unless your industry is very special.
Getting a sigma value is very easy as well with your current date on how
your company is doing. Change however may not be from a process improvement
unless management is willing to change as well.
� Research proves that firms that successfully implement Six Sigma perform
better in virtually every business category, including return on sales,
return on investment, employment growth and stock value growth. The strategy
that has to be applied in today's educational arena is a thoughtful concern
on the part of the management to understand customer needs and strive to
reduce defects throughout all educational processes.
� Most organizations embracing Six Sigma apply it without measuring the
"buy-in" (enthusiasm for Six Sigma) of their employees. In some types of
operations this may be critical. The performance of Six Sigma in many types
of operations has never been or cannot yet be measured. For example, if a
company sees that Six Sigma has improved the quality of its baseball cap
production line, then it might presume that applying Six Sigma to its
engineering think tank will improve its creativity by the same degree.
Certainly any company, in a lawsuit involving the quality of its products,
will proclaim its quality programs at the forefront of its defense. This
causes some skeptics to claim that their organization has embraced Six Sigma
only to look good in court. Whether this is the case or not, the fact that
the statement is believed reduces the "buy-in" by the company's employees,
which may reduce the ability of Six Sigma to improve quality. Six sigma is
no different than "reducing variation" or piece-to-piece consistency (at
what cost?). IS the reduction of variation the only solution or the choice
of when to reduce. Therefore, what is achieved by Six Sigma is
piece-to-piece consistency or focus on parts. Piece-to-piece consistency may
be adequately required for large volume production only when it is
established by its "piece-to-system" consistency requirement (target
List of Companies that have successfully Implemented Six Sigma
following companies have implemented 6-sigma
Dick Company, Abbott Labs, Adolph Coors, Advanced Micro Devices, Aerospace
Corp, Airborne, Alcoa, Allen Bradley, Allied Signal, Ampex, Apple Computers,
Applied Magnetics, ASQC, Atmel, Baxter Pharmaseal, Beatrice Foods, Bell
Helicopter, Boeing, Bombardier, Borden, Bristol Meyers - Squibb, Bryn Mawr
Hospital, Campbell Soup, Cellular 1, Chevron, Citicorp, City of Austin, TX,
City of Dallas, TX, Clorox, Cooper Ind, Dannon, Defense Mapping Agency,
Delnosa ( Delco Electronics in Mexico), Digital Equipment Corp, DTM Corp,
Eastmen Kodak, Electronic Systems Center, Empak, Florida Dept. of
Corrections, Ford Motor Company, GEC Marconi, General Dynamics, General
Electric, Hazeltine Corp, Hewlett packard, Holly Sugar, Honeywell, Intel,
Junior Achievement, Kaiser Aluminum, Kraft General Foods, Larson & Darby,
Inc, Laser Magnetic Storage, Lear Astronics, Lenox China, Littton Data
Systems, Lockhee Martin, Loral, Los Alamos National labs, Martin Marietta,
McDonnell Douglas, Merix, Microsoft, Morton Int'l, Motorola, NASA, Nat'l
Institute of Corrections, Nat'l Institute of Standards, Nat'l Semiconductor,
Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America, Northrop Corp, PACE, Parkview
Hospital, Pentagon, Pharmacia, PRC, Inc, Qualified Specialists, Ramtron
Corp, Rockwell Int'l, Rohm & Haas, Seagate, Society of Plastics Egineers,
Solar Optical, Sony, Star Quality, Storgae Tek, Symbios Logic, Synthes,
Technicomp, Tessco, Texaco, Texas Commerce Bank, Texas Dept. of
Transportation, Texas Instruments, Titleist, Trane, TRW, Ultratech Stepper,
United States Air Force, United States Army, United technologies, UPS, USAA,
Verbatim, Walbro Automotive, Walker parking, Woodward Governor, Xerox