For most companies in the business world, reducing costs is viewed upon positively. But, for those who speak of it, BEWARE! Sometimes, the idea of reducing costs becomes synonymous with cutting staff in the manufacturing world, especially in the minds of employees. Instead of focusing on just reducing costs, manufacturers should prioritize their efforts and focus on reducing excess and unnecessary costs. This is where Six Sigma comes in.
Six Sigma 101
Six Sigma is a powerful set of methods and tools enabling manufacturers to reduce excess costs by maximizing efficiencies, eliminating waste and removing variations from their production cycle. The system helps companies create a culture of continuous improvement where employees contribute to positive change and growth. Six Sigma results are geared to be measurable and verifiable.
Six Sigma is applicable to an entire company. It’s not just about improving your production floor – the methodology seeks to streamline processes including delivery and customer service. Projects related to Six Sigma typically follow one of two methodologies based on an acronym:
1) DMAIC (commonly used to improve already existing operations and businesses):
2) DMADV (commonly applied to projects seeking to create new products or processes):
A Brief History of Six Sigma
The concept of Six Sigma originally comes from statistics and relates to the process of solving problems based on analytical data and evaluation. Six Sigma as a measurement standard can be traced back to the early 19 century. However, Motorola is known as the company to have popularized it in the manufacturing industry in the 1980’s after Motorola engineers grew unhappy with traditional quality measurements. Named by engineer, Bill Smith, Six Sigma was born as a new standard and methodology. Motorola claims to have experienced more than $16 billion in savings as a result of implementing Six Sigma. Over the years, various manufacturing giants adopted it before making rounds to the small to medium sized manufacturing community.
Six Sigma Training Involves “Belts”
Different levels of certifications, or “belts”, identify roles and responsibilities for Six Sigma within a company. Like in Karate class, these belts signify official certifications and are ranked from lowest to highest as yellow, green, black and master.
Belts represent individuals trained in the Six Sigma doctrine who work on improvement projects within the company. The belts work within teams of subject-matter experts and sponsors to identify the cause of manufacturing problems and solve them. Here are the commonly used belt certifications:
- Yellow Belts: Employees who have undergone basic training in Six
Sigma and participate in improvement projects. However, they play a
smaller role in project implementation and evaluation in comparison to
Green and Black belts.
- Green Belts: Staff members who have been trained in Six Sigma and
officially implement its projects in conjunction with their current
positions. They report to Black Belts within their team structure.
- Black Belts: Employees who are completely dedicated to Six Sigma as
their full-time position. Their focus is to serve as a leader for Six
Sigma project implementation. They additionally train and mentor teams on
- Master Black Belts: Individuals who serve a more strategic purpose. In addition to coaching Black and Green Belts, they focus on developing key quantifiable metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of Six Sigma projects.
Note: In addition to the certifications, there are other roles associated with Six Sigma including White Belts and Champions.
Obtain Your Belt Certification Today
If you’re looking to realize the benefits of Six Sigma and make an impact on your bottom line, MMTC can help your team members become Black Belt or Green Belt certified. For more information on our Six Sigma services, click here or contact us at 888.414.6682.
Since 1991, MMTC has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses compete and grow. Through personalized services fitted to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.mmtc.org.