Design For Six Sigma Basics

Design for Six Sigma is an emergent discipline and is often referred by its acronym DFSS. The primary objective of DFSS is to develop a new, defect free product or service and to implement the Six Sigma methodology in a product or service life cycle, as early as possible. It dramatically enhances the speed and quality of the design processes and the organisations therefore, use DFSS to design or redesign a process, product, service or transaction.

Difference between Design and Six Sigma and DMAIC:
Design for Six Sigma largely differs from the traditional Six Sigma process called DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) in a way that DMAIC is basically about improving an existing process whereas, DFSS is instrumental in developing a whole new process. In a way, DFSS is a preventive approach while, DMAIC offers a cure to existing problems. As it is well known that “Prevention is better than cure”, DFSS proves to be more economically viable option than the classic Six Sigma approach.

Although, classic Six Sigma theorists consider DFSS an offshoot of Six Sigma, often the tools used in this case, differ widely from those used for classic Six Sigma methodology. In principal, one of the reasons for creating Design for Six Sigma was that using the traditional Six Sigma techniques, it was infeasible to optimise a product beyond three or four Sigma without redesigning the fundamentals. Hence, DFSS emerged as a solution to the above problem that was built-in the system from the start. Therefore, the biggest similarity between the two is that they both follow the practise of design for quality.

As mentioned earlier, since DFSS becomes functional from the earliest stage of research and development, it attacks the imperfections from the very basic level. This methodical approach is about doing everything meticulously right from the involvement of people to the tools applied.

The advantages of DFSS are following:

  • Generic nature: It can be applied to any organisation, any product or any service
  • High performance/cost ratio: Since it functions during the earliest stages when the costs are lowest, this technique is really cost effective
  • Customer satisfaction: The customers get to see Six Sigma products, right from the start and therefore may also help in acquiring quality customers
  • Reliability: Provides Six Sigma reliability

The minimum process Sigma level expected for a DFSS product or service is 4.5 (no more than approximately one defect per thousand) and may reach 6 Sigma or higher, depending on the product requirements. To achieve such a perfection right from the stage of product or service launch requires understanding or customer expectations and needs before implementing or completing a design.

Design for Six Sigma Methodologies:
There are a variety of Designs for Six Sigma methodologies viz. DMADV, IDOV, DCCDI, DMEDI etc. The DFSS approach can utilize any of these methodologies and thus has a lot of options to choose from. Any approach, selected from the pool of various methodologies, will take the organisation in the right direction.

This article was contributed by Ashutosh Sharma

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