Six Sigma and How to Use It

Six Sigma and How to Use It

A little-known secret in production and manufacturing is that you can actually break down every part of a process to mathematical and logical sequences. With a few changes in the process, the best possible outcomes can be drawn with a 99.99% consistency.

There are a number of techniques and tools used to ensure this level of improvement. However, what has been the most consistent is the process known as Six Sigma.

What is Six Sigma?

It is basically a set of strategies meant to help manufacturers and producers ensure quality in their outputs using a number of statistical and empirical methods. It mainly helps to allow businesses to identify flaws in their processes, removing these, and minimizing further signs of variability in the overall manufacturing system.

The strategy owes its existence back to engineer Bill Smith who laid down the basics during his tenure at Motorola in 1980. Jack Welsh further improved on the concept when he worked for General Electric in 1995 as part of his central business strategy.

The System

Understanding how the Six Sigma process works can be rather confusing for non-statistical folk but it’s best to get acquainted with the process on a more technical side first. It’s basically a set of standard deviation figures collected from data in a manufacturing process.

Since defects are defined in statistics as specification limits which separates the bad outcomes from the good, then the 6S process is a set of standard deviations based on the nearest specification limit for each level or “Sigma”.

For instance, if the desired length of a metal pane produced by a machine is in between 2.5 and 3.0 meters, then the process mean is at 2.75 with a standard deviation of 0.187. That means, in order to get a near-perfect and near-consistent production run, almost every item produced by that machine should be within the range of 2.62 and 2.85 meters.

On a more production-focused perspective, you can use the statistical tool to lower the defects of each production batch by a percentage in each sigma level. Theoretically speaking, the success rate per level is as follows.

Level 1 – 33.45%

Level 2 – 69.98%

Level 3 – 93.32%

Level 4 – 99.38%

Level 5 – 99.97%

Level 6 – 99.99%

As one could see, reaching level 6 is not even necessary to ensure optimum production results. You could basically go as far as level 4 and the margin of success in each production batch has already attained near-perfection. This won’t ensure a perfect production run in each sequence, however. It only ensures that the defects in each production process have been reduced by the thousands or millions, depending on the case.


As of now, there are two schools of thought in performing Six Sigma. These two methodologies have 5 phases each and are known as:

DMAIC – This methodology is best for businesses with existing production system designs and could be broken down into:

Defining the System this includes identifying the requirements usually set by customers and comparing them to the overall goals set by the company.

Measuring Key Aspects – this involves measuring and analyzing current production systems and determines their production capability as is.

Analyzing Data – In this process, one must identify how each factor correlates to one another and result in a specific set of outcomes. This will also involve categorizing each outcome and seeking out root causes for the ones that result in defective products.

Improving Current Systems – During this phase, the focus is on making the system “mistake-proof”, constant calibration and repairing are to be expected here if one wants to reach the margin of statistical success defined in each sigma level.

Controlling Future Production Runs – At this point, the focus is on making the changes as sustainable as possible. This will involve implementing rules that ensure each production reaches the required sigma level success rate.

DMADV – This methodology works best if you have to start from scratch as far as setting up your production processes are concerned.

Defining the Goals This phase involves identifying what customers want, what the company can offer, and what the company intends to achieve.

Measuring and Identifying Critical to Quality Characteristics – Here, you will identify what tools and specifications in your production runs have to be met to ensure quality. Also, you’d have to identify the risks to avoid and the output to minimize production.

Analyzing and Developing Design Alternatives – At this point, you should come up with several production layouts and processes to ensure the level 4 to 6 success rates.

Designing an Improved Alternative – Once you have found the best possible production design, you have the option to improve it even further.

Verifying the Design – This phase involves setting things up and ding your first production runs. A bit of tweaking and upgrading might be necessary here if you want to reach the 99% success rate.


Once you have come up with a near-perfect production process, the rest of the process will include translating that concept to the rest of the organization. This should not come as a surprise to you but implementation should always start on top.

The executive management should learn what is Six Sigma and set up the rules on how to implement it. Lower management like department heads will then oversee the implementation while senior personnel like supervisors must coach the lower levels on how to ensure near-perfect production qualities. The employees would then receive the training and directly implement these processes by making sure that their work’s output follows the desired specifications. This will include every stage of the production process from the selection of materials to the production proper and even the quality control processes at several points through the chain.

At a glance, Six Sigma could look like this arduous strategy whose conditions for success are near impossible to achieve. However, you might just be surprised at how easy it is to implement and sustain. With constant effort in implementation and improvement, your employees could go about attaining the upper sigma of success within each production run.

What is Intra-Logistics?

What is Intra-Logistics?

Supply chain management is core to majority businesses. The way they handle the system determines their operating costs, customer service, financial position, and inventory management. Therefore, the supply chain logistics have to be strategized and implemented in a manner that businesses will realize the benefits of good governance. This has always been the case until recently when a new word was coined to help improve the supply chain. This word is none other than intra-logistics. Heard of it? There are even intra-logistic companies that have come up over the years.

Unfortunately, not many know the purpose of intra-logistics in warehouses and supply chain. Researching ‘what is intra-logistics?’ doesn’t help either as many become even more confused. Hopefully after this article, you will be able to explain intra-logistics in full.

So what is intralogistics?

Straight to the point, intralogistics is the management and optimization of internal production and distribution processes. To be more precise, it deals with how to efficiently handle warehouse operations. This may include, information flow, material handling, and how to integrate with modern technologies. It is not new to us that industries will embrace technological advancements and new methods to improve their businesses.

Therefore, applying intralogistics to internal processes within the walls of a fulfillment center and distribution center reduces costs, minimizes inventory, increases product time to be shipped to market and improves employees’ safety. Also, integrating these solutions in the supply chain helps to enhance flexibility.

Each day, companies are realizing these benefits and are implementing intra-logistics solutions in their daily operations. From process engineering, systems design and implementation, database design, project management, remote monitoring to warehouse automation, intra-logistics are being used to optimize and manage the processes.

For example, industries are integrating robotics and automation techniques to simplify the work of their staff and improve the quality and production of goods. Further, these techniques and systems are taking information processing to a whole new level, and they are improving connectivity, intelligence, and how fast processes move along.

Based on this example, intra-logistics finds a new definition as the art of optimizing, integrating automating, and managing the logistical flow of information and material goods within the walls of a fulfillment or distribution center. (According to

In general, intra-logistics is all about the internal controls between information flow and material handling. Its benefits are quite fulfilling in the supply chain management answering why it has created a buzz in many industries.

That is about the size of it. Intra-logistics is a simple concept which hopefully you have understood.

What is Six Sigma: A Basic Definition

What is Six Sigma: A Basic Definition

What Is Six Sigma?

Customer satisfaction is always the goal when it comes to manufacturing and business processes. It is key to how successful and how long the business lasts and guides the methods of delivery. Centering attention on customer satisfaction,  manufacturing and, business processes have come to adopt different techniques such as lean manufacturing, six sigma and lean six sigma( which is a combination of the first two).

While lean manufacturing deals with waste minimization, what does six sigma do? To grasp six sigma technique to answer this, we have to explore what is six sigma first.

Defects are common in the manufacturing process. Regardless of this fact, businesses ought to try everything possible to reduce these defects. This is where six sigma comes in handy. The technique aims to improve the process using quality management methods and process variations to produce products that are 99.99996% free of defects. It seems impossible, right? But not with the six sigma framework DMAIC. I.e.;


The first stage is to state the goals, project scope and any crucial piece of information to the process. A project charter is mostly used in this stage as it clearly outlines the problem statement, goal statement, resources and project timelines. It includes the customers’ expectations as well.


This method is data-driven. Consequently, the 2nd stage of the DMAIC framework is focused on data collection.  The data is then used to establish a performance baseline at the moment of the formulation. After completion of the project, the performance metrics obtained are then compared to the benchmarks to evaluate the suitability.


Within the analyze section, using fishbone diagrams and other tools together with test hypotheses, the analyzing phase identifies and validates root causes for poor product elimination.


The point of the whole process is to find solutions to the sources of defects to achieve 99.99996% defect free products. That is what this step is for, testing and deploying the viable improvements.


Once the solutions have been decided and applied, they should be continuously monitored to determine if they are sustainable. Thus, control charts, control plans, process confirmation, and transition plans are used to measure the performance of the implemented solutions.

The DMAIC framework is still used in the method today. The technique utilizes data-driven facts to reduce variations in conjunction with waste reduction technique. The six sigma and lean manufacturing will often be counterparts based on their functionalities.

Overall, the six sigma method in manufacturing and business processes is guaranteed to improve customer satisfaction and offer better management solutions.


What does Lean Manufacturing mean?

What does Lean Manufacturing mean?

What Is Lean Manufacturing?

As a production and manufacturing company, certain factors lead to increased quality of work without ever having to compromise on the value of the product. After all, no customer will pay for commodities that are below the standards. Therefore, companies will put in place measures designed to fast-track the designing and distribution process so as customers can get value for their money. That is why companies like Toyota use the lean manufacturing technique. And for the most part, Toyota production system is credited with coming up with this technique.

But before going any further, just what is lean manufacturing? Simply put, it’s all about adding value to the process by minimizing waste. The waste in this context is anything that only ends up taking much of your time and money just to add no value to the finished product. As such it is essential to know these types of muda (the traditional Japanese name for waste in the manufacturing process) for better implementation of the technique.

Categories of muda

  • Overproduction- when the demand increases it is only natural for companies to produce more products to meet the customer’s needs. However, if the results of the production, mostly producing before the demand, causes storage costs that could have been avoided, that’s waste.
  • Over-processing – dwelling too much on a product so that you can meet the customer requirements. It might be due to inadequate tools or lack of simpler manufacturing processes
  • Transportation – do not move raw materials or finished products unnecessarily. Better yet, find transportation alternatives with better rates. Otherwise, you will be creating waste.
  • Motion – how often do you move equipment or do people move about without any significance in the manufacturing process?
  • Inventory – any products, work-in-process or finished goods that aren’t supporting any needs.
  • Defects – results to wastage of time inspecting and fixing production errors
  • Waiting – this waste emerges from in-between breaks during work-in-process just waiting for the next step.
  • Unused workforce- any time you do not value employees ideas, skills and creativity, that is another form of waste.

The importance of knowing these categories of lean manufacturing waste is to improve quality while reducing costs, time wastes and eliminating the non-value adding processes. Once identified, the waste can be removed using different tools including Jidoka, Poka-Yoke, Kanban, SMED, Kaizen, value stream mapping, continuous workflow, Takt Time and many others.

It is essential to produce quality goods in an optimized manufacturing process to save on cost. Through avoiding the above waste there is increased productivity, and the process’s goals can be met.

What is the process of Material Handling?

What is the process of Material Handling?

Material handling plays a vital role in manufacturing projects and logistics. It represents 20 percent of America’s economy. Just about all physical merchant products are shipped through Tugger carts and trains. Understanding how the material handling process works can help you deliver successful projects.

Importance of Material Handling

Material handling involves short distance movements within an area or building. The process includes different equipment like automated, semi-automated, and manual machines. It also consists in storing and protecting materials through manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, consumption, and disposal process.

Basics of Material Handling Methods

For businesses, material handling is helpful in manufacturing plants, warehouses, and retail stores. For production workers, it’s a convenient way to manage material movement. The operators of such equipment utilize it to move items from the building to another industrial setting. Material handling system designs include an integral structure so that material movement can efficiently be managed between production stages.

For instance, if two different activities are connected, transporting materials can quickly be done. However, separated activities may sometimes require costly transport trucks. It’s expensive to use industrial trucks due to labor costs and the overheads in production systems. Fusing in several units together in a single transfer also has adverse effects on the performance of production equipment.

Therefore, it’s sometimes more expensive to do a single transfer with more units to reduce moving trips than to go with the average number for every transfer batch.

Different Types of Material Handling

The following are the primary material handling types that business owners and operators should know about:

  • Manual. Manual handling means workers move materials and individual containers using their own hands. It involves lifting, lowering, filling, carrying, and emptying containers when running them. However, manual handling can be dangerous because of the potential physical injuries that workers may acquire while at work. Generally, workers may experience sprains in their shoulders, upper limbs, and lower back. Good thing there are ergonomic developments to ensure risk-free manual handling operations.
  • Automated. This type of material handling involves equipment that is designed to reduce and replace manual movement of containers. Today, semi-automated and automated material handling equipment is used to assist human operators in unloading, loading, and driving materials to another area. To overcome challenges and high costs of transporting materials, automated machines are essential. The ongoing developments in equipment programming, robotics, and sensing have been useful in completely automating the movement of materials.

Implementing Successful Handling of Materials

Knowing where to start and how to conduct and employ successful material handling processes is vital to any business. With the complexities in moving materials, it’s crucial to understand the best strategies to deliver material handling projects. Automated handling may be expensive and risky. But overall, it’s an ultimate money-saver when it comes to transporting materials needed in building sites. Physical evaluation helps in assessing equipment to determine the best advantage.

You can consider the programs, drawings, service records, spare parts, and specifications to ensure the efficiency of the equipment.

Some of the intralogistics projects modifying the industry today include workstation improvements, new product launches, new plant buildings, forklift traffic reduction, and part kitting implementation.

Over time, material handling will become even more significant for many businesses and organizations around the globe.