PROCESS IMPROVEMENT USING SIX SIGMA
You are tasked with setting up an improvement programme to deliver sustainable business benefit whilst developing a customer-focused continuous improvement culture. A Six Sigma approach is suggested as the basis for the programme. Review the literature and define the key elements of Six Sigma as presently practiced and critique this approach, suggesting how you might modify it or enhance it (if required) to deliver the business transformation described above. Remember to justify any inclusions or omissions and to ground your work in the literature.
Critique a real Six Sigma project of your choosing. Discuss the approach, tools used, data selected and analysed, project management and handling of human factors.
Note that for the purposes of this question ‘statistical process control’ includes all the chart-based techniques covered on the course, including.
Choose any process within your organisation that is subject to statistical control using variable data. For this process:
(a) Describe the quality characteristic(s) that are being controlled and describe the process through which these characteristics were defined.
(b) Using the data collected over a suitable period, discuss the level of control of the process and independently calculate the capability of the process to achieve the quality characteristic(s) of the product or service.
Include in your answer all the data and calculations used to produce your findings.
Critically assess the method of control used and describe improvements, which could be applied to improve the control and subsequent capability of the process studied.
Apply the techniques of SPC (using variable data) to any process within your organisation. In doing so you should address the following issues:
(a) How was the quality characteristic selected and why is it appropriate?
(b) What type of chart was selected to control the process? Explain the choice.
(c) Was the data collection method appropriate?
(d) Is the process capable of achieving the desired outcome?
(e) What factors may contribute to the variability of the process? Categorise these causes into Special or Common.
(f) How would you expect these factors to show up on the chart?
Perform a Taguchi experiment (within a DMAIC improvement cycle) on the standard design of paper aeroplane (attached) to optimise a suitable quality characteristic. Analyse the data from the experiment and conclude on the design, predicting the results from your optimised design and confirm that your experiment has been successful. Comment on the results of your confirmation. In doing so;
(i) Explain your choice of quality characteristic.
(ii) Define control and noise factors that you would include. Explain your choices.
(iii) Prepare an experimental design and carry it out, detailing how it was performed.
(iv) Indicate how you analysed the results. What conclusions did you draw? What would you do if the results you expected were not confirmed?
At all stages clearly explain what you did and your reasons for adopting the approach that you did.
Lean and Six Sigma are two approaches to business improvement which have increasingly over the years gathered many followers. Traditionally the two approaches have been regarded as separate and, to some degree, antagonistic. Recently, attempts have been made to integrate the two approaches. By reviewing the literature on the origins of Lean and Six Sigma and the current theoretical and practical state of the art consider whether the two approaches are indeed compatible, and how successful the attempts to bring them together have been.
Six Sigma ought to be a learning process. Consider the current literature on Six Sigma and your personal experience where relevant, and discuss how Six Sigma can make a contribution to Organizational Learning. Does the current literature on the implementation of Six Sigma support or inhibit it as a mechanism for Organizational Learning? You may focus your answer on either the improvement project level, or the initiative level; clearly state which you are considering in your answer.
Figure 1: Standard aero plane design
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