What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma is a business methodology and a data-driven process whose goal is to produce nearly perfect products for consumers, reducing product defects down to 3.4 defective parts per million, or 99.99966% defect-free products over the long term. It is an essential part of any business process improvement as it significantly improves the efficiency of your business by identifying flaws and weaknesses in your processes. In order to bring improvement to eliminate defects and waste, a set of tools and methods are developed over the years by Six Sigma practitioners that address control and problem-solving. So, here in this topic, we are going to learn about Six Sigma Tools.
List of Six Sigma Tools
Below are 10 powerful tools of Six Sigma:
DMAIC is a 5-step process, and it is the first and most used method/tool in Six Sigma. The 5 steps are:
The DMAIC process helps in creating continuous improvement in your manufacturing methods by using data and measured objectives. Also, there is a process known as DMADV, which is used to develop a new process, products, or service, whereas DMAIC which is useful for improving current processes. DMADV Stands for:
The DMADV process helps in developing a high-quality product or service by creating an efficient process doing thorough analyses and using data.
2. The 5 Whys
To determine the root cause of problems in your organization, the tool of 5 Whys is used, which is frequently deployed as part of the Analyze phase in DMAIC. The 5 Whys works like this:
- Write down the problem you are having so that every member of your team can focus on it specifically.
- Ask why the problem took place.
- If your first answer is not the main reason for your problem, ask why again.
- Repeat this questioning at least 5 times to find the true reason for the problem.
- 5 Whys do not mean that it has to be restricted to 5 times only, you can ask more than 5 times, but basically, after 5 times, you will get the clarity on the root cause of the problem.
3. The 5S System
For quicker access and better management, workplace materials are organized following a tool known as the 5S System. The waste that is produced by poor condition and poor workstations are eliminated with the help of this system.
The 5S are:
- Seiri (Sort) – Leaving only necessary items, all extra items are removed from current production.
- Seiton (Set in order) – Organize all items and label them according to being clutter-free.
- Seiso (Shine) – Keep your work area clean, and inspect everything in it regularly.
- Seiketsu (Standardize) – Write the standards that you have set, sort them, set them in order, and shine steps above.
- Shitsuke (Sustain) – Apply and execute the standards that you have set for your company and make everyone follow it as a habit regularly.
4. Value Stream Mapping
Value Stream Mapping is a tool used in the Analyze phase of DMAIC and also in Lean Manufacturing, making it perfect for Lean Six Sigma. To help you improve and optimize flow throughout your organization, a value stream map was developed to show the flow of materials and information in one of your processes.
Value Stream mapping helps you identify 3 things:
- Value Enabling Activities: Identifying the activities which when enabled, adds value to your processes.
- Value Adding Activities: Identifying the activities that add value to your processes.
- Non-value adding activities: Identifying and eliminating the activities that do not add any value to your processes.
So in order to make your processes more compact, swift and precise, you have to eliminate wait time between consecutive steps in your processes and eliminate all your non-value adding activities with the help of Value Stream Mapping.
5. Regression Analysis
A Regression Analysis which is used to define the mathematical relationship between an input variable and an output variable, is a statistical process for estimating and understanding the relationship between variables. It helps you visualize patterns or deviance from desired patterns in your workflow by graphing these inputs and outputs.
You have to be cautious when performing a regression analysis. In Layman’s language, Regression analysis is a statistical method which helps in determining the extent to which a relationship exists between two variables. One can accurately identify the values of one variable based on the values of another variable using a simple linear formula if the relationship is strong enough.
6. Pareto Chart
Pareto Chart is a graphic representation that visualizes what part of the process influences output the most. You first have to figure out components of the process along with how to measure them to create such a chart. It allows Six Sigma teams to identify the largest issues facing the process by displaying differences between groups of data.
It is considered as the most important tool of Six Sigma as it helps the team identify 20% of resources that causes 80% of problems in their processes. In short, it will give you a clear idea that which component requires your immediate attention.
The full form of FMEA is Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA). Developed in the 1950s, FMEA helps business in identifying and eliminating weak points by reviewing the causes and effects of components, assemblies, and subsystems. It helps Six Sigma Practitioners to detect and fix problems before it occurs, resulting in improvement of quality of their processes, services, and products.
Kaizen means continuous improvement. It is a practice that continuously involves observing, identifying, and implementing incremental improvement in your manufacturing process by involving all employees and managers and encouraging them in the process of manufacturing improvements.
It ensures to rectify the smallest inefficiencies every day through the collective talents and knowledge of everyone working in the company. It also ensures the reduction of waste in production.
Poka-yoke is a Japanese term meaning mistake-proofing. It helps in identifying and rectifying human errors by employees that occur throughout the production and manufacturing processes.
10. Kanban System
Kanban is a Japanese word meaning billboard. Kanban System being a supply chain control system, focuses on cost reduction by implementing just in time inventory control system. It is very easy to use and has many benefits, for which it is also one of the most popular six sigma tool. Kanban system increases efficiency and brings more focus to the business as it works on a simple and elegant idea by only activating the supply chain when the demand requires it, by feeling additional resources and allowing to use them better. This system helps all the current business processes by setting limits for the inventory- holding.
This is a guide to Six Sigma Tools. Here we discuss the 10 powerful tools of Six Sigma for address control and problem-solving. You may also look at the following article to learn more –