TRIZ and Six Sigma

Posted by: meikah | 31 July 2006 | 11:21 pm

There is a new trend in Six Sigma these days, and that is incorporating TRIZ into the Six Sigma methodology. TRIZ (pronounced “TREEZ”) is the Russian acronym for the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving.

The TRIZ Way for Creative Problem Solving

Photo from Wikipedia.

Among Six Sigma’s goals is reducing cost, yet still being able to do more in terms of improving processes to please the customer. The question now is: How could TRIZ Six Sigma help to plan and implement efficiently cost-reduction initiatives on a long-term basis?

OneSixSigma answers:

First it is reasonable to revisit, how we calculate Costs as a Primary Business Metric: Total Life Cost (TLC) of the Product/Service, i.e. total costs during it’s whole Life Cycle should be considered, including COPQs at all phases as well as COPQs of all changes implemented.

Second, it is important not only to monitor (Measure), to analyse but also to PREDICT! variation of the different contributors (turn keys) of these TLC costs along with the whole Product life cycle.

Third, apparently different improvement opportunities should be permanently evaluated, prioritized and considered including complete (re-)design of the product and decommissioning of the previous version.

Fourth, interdisciplinary project teams should be able to find efficient solutions and to implement the changes, which are sustainable long-term.

Continue reading…

Succeeding posts will talk about TRIZ and Six Sigma, and together how these two strategies make a whole lot of difference in the life of organizations.

Filed under: Deployment, Tools/Toolkits


Six Sigma Managing Projects at Trinity Real Estate Solutions

Posted by: meikah | 30 July 2006 | 8:39 pm

Six Sigma methodology scores a hit again with Trinity Real Estate Solutions. The company is known for its state-of-the-art online technology that allows them to provide the residential real estate lending industry with high quality ordering, tracking and delivery of new construction and renovation property services.

Based on its profile, Trinity is dealing with customer data every single transaction day. Its business therefore depended on the efficiency of its processes to give current data anytime it is needed. A couple of days ago, the company announced that Travis Eck, Manager of Operations-Inspection Division, completed his Six Sigma Black Belt Certification. The company considers this certification another feather in their cap.

Trinity management and even Eck himself believe that Six Sigma will make them do something extraordinary for their customers. Eck acknowledges:

“In the inspection world speed and accuracy top the list of aspects that are critical to quality from a customer’s point of view. In choosing a project I looked at a common area that would positively impact all parties involved in our transactions and turn time of our inspections topped the list.”

Six Sigma taught Travis to base decisions on facts and not feelings. This benefit goes far beyond project goals or change management. Basing decisions on the facts allows Travis to be a better manager and solve the right issue the first time.

Continue reading…

Indeed, choosing the right project is the most important thing for an organization deploying Six Sigma. Key concepts of Six Sigma specifically the completion of leadership sponsored projects helped Eck a lot in selecting the right project and seeing it through successfully. His training is well worth it.

Filed under: Benefits and Savings, Certification, Deployment

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WCBF’s 2nd Annual Design for Six Sigma Conference

Posted by: meikah | 27 July 2006 | 10:07 pm

The 2nd Annual Design for Six Sigma Conference will be at the The Four Seasons, Las Vegas on September 13 and 14, 2006. This year’s conference theme is growth for many companies.

It is just right to associate DFSS with growth because it is a roadmap you use when you are designing products and services as well as enabling processes that are of Six Sigma-quality, and that they meet customer expectations.

Dr. Martha Gardner, Global Quality Leader at GE Global Research headlines the speaker line-up. Her keynote speech titled, “Design for Six Sigma: A Key for Growth,” will give insight into how organizations can utilize DFSS for business transformation and growth. She will share insights on how DFSS plays an integral role for an organic growth strategy, as well as examining the evolution, next step and beyond for DFSS.

Among the panel of speakers who are experts from Manufacturing, Service and Transactional Environments includes:

  • Dr Kamal Ayoub, Vice President, Operational Excellence at Tyco Healthcare Group
  • Mark Pomeroy, Director of Product Development and Design Excellence at Ethicon Endo-Surgery (a J&J Company)
  • Neal Mackertich, Founder of the Raytheon Six Sigma Institute at Raytheon
  • Dr. Aly Badawy, Vice President of Steering and Suspension Engineering at TRW Automotive
  • Dr Andrew Brown, Executive Director of Engineering at Delphi Corporation

For more info check this out: Leading GE Innovator Opens WCBF’s 2nd Annual Design for Six Sigma Conference

Filed under: Events/Announcements, Lean Six Sigma, Manufacturing, Tools/Toolkits

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Global Business: Getting Ahead Through Innovation

Posted by: meikah | 26 July 2006 | 11:28 pm

The best of the pack are proving as innovative and expertly run as any in the business, astutely absorbing global consumer trends and technologies and getting new products to market faster than their rivals.

Who benefits from all these is us, the consumers. At least today, we have the choices, the options to which brand suit us in terms of price, effecitivity, and efficiency. For those who have the entrepreneurial spirit can learn from this, too. Today, I guess, it’s no longer a question of who has the financial resources, but who has the focus, the drive to breakthrough. Everything else will just follow.

Read about the other face of global business on GBWatch today.

Filed under: Manufacturing, Services

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Micropump: Choosing Six Sigma Project Through CTQs

Posted by: meikah | 25 July 2006 | 11:17 pm

Do you see those dispensing machines of soda or juice? Or do you always make sure that your photo printers dispense the right amount of ink to the jets? If you answer yes to both questions then chances are you have witnessed how Micropump products work.

Micropump is the recognized leader in the design of miniature, sealless positive displacement pumps. The company is the originator of the so-called “leak-free” pumping solution. Not one to rest on its laurels, Micropump continues to innovate, adding new technologies and capabilities every year, revolutionizing the way liquids are moved and dispensed.

In other words, anywhere that it is important to meter precise amounts of fluids consistently a Micropump product may be at work: inside the dispensing device – at home improvement stores, dispensing pigments to tint paint; at fast food restaurants, making sure the orange juice always tastes the same by insuring the right amount of concentrate is dispensed every time; inside some photo printers, delivering ink to the jets, or in a Kidney dialysis machine, assuring proper filtering.

Although the company has been in business for 46 years, management feels that its operations are not moving as effectively as they should be. In 2001, the company needed some revitalization. IDEX, its owner, turned to Six Sigma and Lean calling the program Operational Excellence.

The aim of the program was to provide the framework and philosophy to move Micropump forward. IDEX chose the best and brightest and assign them to be full-time Black Belts. Micropump followed. Micropump had less than 75 employees in Vancouver, and could not afford to let two of its best employees work full-time on Lean Six Sigma, but it did. It was a leap of faith, and it only meant that the Black Belts should deliver.

Despite having the best people there, the company met problems with the several erroneous data. Thus, the Six Sigma team worked first on having clean data in their hands. The initial projects were on-time delivery for customers. On-time delivery data however was not readily available. It became obvious that the team would need a new data acquisition method and that it would need to work with transactional processes as well as manufacturing processes.

Knowing SPC would help them, at least in manufacturing, the company formed a project team to solve the data problem. The team began by developing a list of critical-to-quality characteristics (CTQs) for process data:

  • SPC must be used for process control in manufacturing – The company needed the ability to automate data collection and real-time alarms in all of manufacturing processes. The goal was to use existing quality data collection processes wherever possible. But the company wanted better support for automatic gaging, and more transparent data sharing. And process owners needed to be able to respond instantly to process shifts or special cause variation.
  • The ability to accurately track transactional process performance – Team wanted to track manufacturing and transactional data at the same time, with the same system. While there clearly are differences between transactional and manufacturing data, there also are many similarities.
  • A way to link information from many databases for use in operations – The company already had a lot of data in various databases. It needed a way to bridge these disparate systems.
  • One source for process and product data – Once again, regardless of the source of the data, (dimensional, equipment performance, cycle times, defects, product testing), the company needed a way to reach it.
  • Mistake-proofing of data – The vision was using current technology to eliminate operator data input errors. The company wanted the ability to use barcode scanning, pre-filled data fields, drop-down lists, etc.
  • Real-time information about all processes – With a taste of how real-time data could help certain operations, the team figured it should span all processes.
  • Ease of use by operators, supervisors, engineers and Black Belts – The idea was to get rid of a system that was cumbersome and difficult to use, thus making life better for everyone on the staff. Ease of use included having a system compatible with the statistical analysis software used by the company.
  • Limited resources required for initial set-up and ongoing system maintenance – Finally, the team knew the company needed a system that required minimal on-going IT support and resources. The company was stretched too thin to place more demands on the IT staff.

Continue reading…

This goes to show that building reliable data system—a critical element of Six Sigma—is not a laughing matter at all!

Filed under: Manufacturing, Tools/Toolkits

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The Six Sigma Way: How GE, Motorola, and Other Top Companies are Honing Their Performance

Posted by: meikah | 24 July 2006 | 10:41 pm

Ever wondered how GE, Motorola and other top companies stay successful through the years? Their common denominator is Six Sigma.

This book tells us how.

Part One of the book covers the essentials of Six Sigma, including fundamental concepts, advantages of Six Sigma over Total Quality Management, and the Six Sigma Roadmap—a five-phase model for building the Six Sigma organization.

Part Two examines how to adapt a Six Sigma initiative to your business, including how to decide whether to try it at all, and how to train “Black Belts” and other key roles.

Part Three describes the major activities of the Six Sigma Roadmap, from identifying core processes to executing improvement projects to sustaining Six Sigma gains.

The book uses real-life success stories to illustrate the concepts, tools, and challenges. The authors definitely are able to:

  • show how to apply Six Sigma to many different business activities from strategic planning to operations to customer service
  • offer customizable options and guidelines—not rigid formulas—that take into account your business needs and priorities
  • alert you to the dangers and mistakes that can derail as Six Sigma initiative.

Click on the Six Sigma Study Guide link under the Six Sigma Resources on the left navigation bar for a preview of the book.

Filed under: Six Sigma References

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Six Sigma: Improving Ship and Boat Building

Posted by: meikah | 24 July 2006 | 1:09 am

I heard it on the local radio recently that Korea is now the biggest shipyard in the world. The country is said to have orders to build ships for the next three years at least. In fact, Korea is considering investing in shipyard here in the Philippines, which will make Philippines the second biggest shipyard in the world. You can just imagine the jobs that will be generated from this project alone.

That radio news inspired me to search for Six Sigma in ship or boat building. Good enough, I found an article saying that the axiom “Do the job right the first time” is never more true than in a shipyard’s welding operation. reports:

The welding process must be optimized for high productivity, yet maintain quality levels required by stringent welding standards.

Even using the most fine-tuned process, a welder can be done in by upstream operations that prepare the material for welding. New welding automation equipment is available that can be used before, during, and after welding to maximize productivity, reduce variability, and ensure high quality.

Six Sigma welding refers to the efforts necessary to reduce the defect rate to less than the acceptable industry level of 3.4 parts per million (PPM). Achieving this standard requires nearly perfect joint repeatability, or as an alternative, intelligent automation. Continue reading…

The article shows the steps on how the processes of the ship and boat welding go. As Six Sigma is implemented, the welding process control is plotted, the shipyard automation categories are identified, and the quality of weld results screen is presented. In this screen, you can see the defective welds and the reasons for the defects. A repair welder can use this information to locate welds that need correcting. The trending capability through the automatic inspection system also tracks defects and generates Pareto charts, which can be used to identify which defects occur most often and the welding process’s overall capability. This capability index can be used in the Six Sigma improvement effort.

I know welding is very crucial in ship and boat building. As the spokesperson on the radio said, the ships or boats are built by parts, which are then joined together; so you can just imagine if the welding or the jointed parts are defective!

Filed under: Deployment, Manufacturing, Tools/Toolkits

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Lean Six Sigma on Distribution System

Posted by: meikah | 20 July 2006 | 10:39 pm

To satisfy the customer is the ultimate goal of (Lean) Six Sigma, or of any process improvement. For (Lean) Six Sigma, particularly, there must be at least a 3.4 DPMO.

More often however this rate is measured at the factory floor, ensuring that once the products are manufactured, out a million opportunities, you only find 3.4 defects. If this is achieved, your products leave the factory floor and readied for distribution to the end users.

However, we often hear of damaged products through handling or customers invoking warranty way before the warranty period expires. This just shows that the distribution process also needs to be systematized.

The work of quality therefore does not stop at the end of the assembly line or at the factory floor. From the time you pack your products and distribute them to your customers, you still have to ensure that quality is preserved. After all as R. Eric Reidenbach and Reginald W. Goeke, founding partners of Market Value Solutions, say: “Value at the point of production does not necessarily translate into value at the point of consumption. As a product moves through the distribution system there are many factors that can diminish its value.”

According to the article (“Value in Focusing Lean Six Sigma on Distribution System”) written by Reidenbach and Goeke for iSixSigma, from the production line to the distribution channel, you will need Lean Six Sigma.

What then are the requirements for reaping the returns of a successful Lean deployment? Here are some of the more critical ones:

  • Enhance the relationship that exists between manufacturers and dealers – Recognize that both are partners with the goal of creating and delivering outstanding value to the end user. Lean Six Sigma deployments require cooperation, trust and a sense of partnering between the various distribution channel entities.
  • Understand precise value – The ultimate determiner of value for both the manufacturer and the dealer is the end user. All channel systems must align in the most efficient and effective manner to provide this value. This definition of value obtained from the end user should direct focused process changes resulting from Lean Six Sigma initiatives.
  • Map value streams across corporate boundaries – This requires a recognition that value creation and delivery require the cooperation and partnering of all distribution channel entities. Redesigning these value delivery systems requires the active participation of all members of the channel. Listening to the voice of the end user will provide an environment that is responsive to market definitions of value.
  • Apply the appropriate metrics – The efficacy of a Lean value delivery system is found in changes in the organization’s competitive value proposition. Monitoring these changes is critical to any Lean Six Sigma deployment in this arena.
Filed under: Benefits and Savings, Deployment, Lean Six Sigma, Manufacturing

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Robots in Your Processes?

Posted by: meikah | 19 July 2006 | 11:14 pm

“It’s time to build an A.I. robot. The dream is to put a robot in every home.”~ Andrew Ng, a Stanford computer scientist and a leader of the project, called Stanford Artificial Intelligence Robot, or Stair.

Read about it on Global Business Watch today.

Filed under: Manufacturing, Services

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Six Sigma in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Posted by: meikah | 18 July 2006 | 10:44 pm

Many in the healthcare industry are now going into Six Sigma. Shouldn’t the pharmaceutical industry do the same—especially that both industries concern people’s health, people’s lives?

PharmaLive says that pharmaceuticals will benefit a lot if they implement Six Sigma. The methodology will allow them to reduce the time needed to get their drugs on store shelves and cut costs by eliminating variations in many processes and trimming waste.

To me what’s more important is the state of processes when these companies manufacture these drugs. How often do we hear about defective drugs that have ruined lives?

iSixSigma features “Breakthrough: Do Clinical Research the Six Sigma Way,” which basically emphasizes improved process workflows. The article also suggests how Six Sigma methodology can help pharmaceutical companies improve clinical trial performance.

The following key strategies are suggested to launch a Six Sigma effort within this industry:

  1. Begin to change the traditional ways of conducting clinical trials by campaigning for the implementation of needed integration initiatives through the use of Six Sigma with a commitment from top down leadership.
  2. Focus on the integration of technology and workflow improvement in meeting challenges and extend new ventures not possible using conventional isolated implementation of technology or homegrown process improvement methodologies.
  3. Provide tested research approaches for the quantitative evaluation of clinical development and process improvement strategies, the integration of which highly correlates with strong financial performance.

The author, Elliott W. Liu, concludes, “In the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry, documenting processes is a critical element in the demonstration of quality and is considered concrete evidence for regulatory approval in marketing new drugs. However, if defects and inefficiency exist from the continued use of traditional clinical research methods, documented evidence will continue to carry defects and inefficiencies.”

I agree!

Incidentally, there’s a Lean Six Sigma for Pharmaceutical and Biotech Manufacturing Excellence conference on July 24 – 26, 2006 at Park Hyatt Philadelphia, Philadelphia.

Filed under: Deployment, Manufacturing

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