Looking for Help Using Six Sigma for New Process Developement

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums General Forums Implementation Looking for Help Using Six Sigma for New Process Developement

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    Hello ISIXSIGMA!

    I’ve read many topics and discussions here but I’ve never posted before…

    Anyway, I have some questions and hopefully somebody can point me in the correct direction. I work in a research and development department at an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and we are responsible for creating new processes that will hopefully change our industry. I was wondering if somebody could point me in the six sigma direction of creating a new process rather than improving a process? There is a lot of confusion around here and everybody wants to run a DOE and then say the process is great but using a DOE to outline process limits is failing and I’m not sure how to explain this to my peers. This department has a tendency to start projects and then fail to follow through with them to a production setting.  This causes my company and our customers to lose significant amounts of money.

    Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!



    Robert Butler


    During the time I provided statistical support to R&D groups my method of support went something like this:

    1. Have the researchers fill me in on what they were trying to do.

    2. Walk me through their initial efforts with respect to quick checks of concepts, ideas – this would usually include the description of the  problem as  well as providing me with their initial data.

    3. Ask them, based on what they had uncovered, what they thought the key variables might be with respect to doing whatever it was they were trying to do.

    4. Take their data, and my notes and look at what they had given me and using graphing and simple regression summaries see if what they had told me was supported in some ways by my analysis of their data.

    5. If everything seemed to be in order I would then recommend building a basic main effects design.  As part of that effort I would ask them for their opinions on combinations of variables they thought would give them what they were looking for.  I would make sure the design space covered the levels of the “sure fire” experiments and, if they were few enough in number (and in vast majority of cases they were) I would include those experiments as additional points in the design matrix.

    6. Once we ran the experiments I would run the analysis with and without the “sure fire” experiments and report out my findings.  Part of the reporting would include using the basic predictive equations I had developed to run “what if” analysis looking for the combination of variables that gave the best trade off with respect to the various desired outcomes (in most cases there were at least 10 outcomes of interest and the odds of hitting the “best” for all of them was very small).  Usually, we would have a meeting with all of the outcome equations in a program and my engineers/scientists would ask for predictions based on a number of independent variable combinations.

    7. If it looked like the desired optimum was inside the design box we would test some of the predictions by running the experimental combinations that had been identified as providing the best trade-off.

    8. If it looked like the desired optimum was outside the design box we would use the predictive equations to identify the directions we should be looking.  In those cases when it looked like what we wanted was outside of where we had looked my engineers/scientists would want to think about the findings and, usually with my involvement, run a small series of one-at-a-time experimental checks.  Often I was able to take these one-at-a-time experiments and combine them with the design effort just to see what happened to the predictive equations.

    9. If they were satisfied that the design really was pointing in the right direction we would usually go back to #5 and try again.

    10.  If the results of the analysis of the DOE didn’t turn up much of anything it was disappointing but, since we had run a design which happened to include the “sure fire” experiments we would discuss what we had done, and if no one had anything to add it meant the engineers/scientists had to go back and re-think things. However, they were going back with the knowledge that the odds were high that something other than what they had included in the design was the key to the problem and that it was their job to try to figure out what it/they were.

    Point #10 isn’t often mentioned but, in my experience it is often a game changer.  The people working on a research problem are good – the company wouldn’t have hired them if they thought otherwise.  Because they are good and because they have had successes in the past the situation will sometimes occur where the research group gets split into factions of the kind we-know-what-we-are-doing-and-you-don’t.  There’s nothing like a near total failure to get everyone back on the same team – especially when all of the “known” “sure-fire” experiments have been run and found wanting.



    Hello Tipman,

    I’m not sure to well understand if you work for machine manufacturer or if you work for a product manufacturer …

    In any case if you want to design a machine or if you want to re-design a manufacturing process you have to consider and think about :

    – What are customer demands? KANO Analysis (think about : Quality, Leadtimes, Price)

    Use first Lean Tools

    Quality :

    – Quality at the source and machines capabilities (Cp, Cpk, Pp, Ppk)–> reach Quality (CTQ)

    – SPC Statistical Process Control (better than SPM)

    Deliveries :

    – SMED (Single Minute to Exchange the Die). Setting Time are Non Value Added).

    – TPM

    If you don’t reach these targets in term of quality and time or optimise in the future, use DOE to increase quality and/or  reduce cycle time. 6 Sigma is used to reduce variation.

    For product development you can also use DFSS tools (Design for Six Sigma, reliability test …)

    Hope this will help you




    Are you familiar with DFSS (Design for Six Sigma)?  It’s the branch that focusses on creating new processes/products rather than improving existing ones.  It isn’t about the creative process itself, but rather about assuring that the result will be high quality and efficient.  In my experience creative people are likely to resist. @rbutler gave some good advice.



    Thank you everyone for your insights, experiences, and advice. @rbutler seemed to hit the nail on the head with his experiences because I usually get a call after the project is falling apart and they need a “saving grace” with a “quick fix”, unfortunately I don’t usually come up with a quick fix and that is when the trust in what I do is lost.

    we are a custom machine manufacturer/design company and our customers use our equipment to produce product for a retail market. Your suggestions are great but many times we don’t have much of the information that you are referring to because we are developing something that has never been done before. It would be great to have that information however if we had it then somebody else would have already developed what we are trying to do.

    you are definitely correct in stating ” creative people are likely to resist” but I would like to assist them in being creative. In my ideal world we would be able to create a statistically supported process that hasn’t had the “creativity” piece removed but rather supported. I have heard the term DFSS before and researched it a little bit but if you had any suggestions on where I could get more information it would be greatly appreciated.



    @Tipman – I’m going to disagree with @straydog that creative people are likely to resist.  My experience is that they need to be shown how various tools help them to do what they inherently know they need to do.

    I’m not sure just what you are having trouble with.  Is it identifying new items to pursue (you will need tools that foster innovation)?  Is it identifying acceptance limits for items that you have created that will satisfy customers (QFD, benchmarking, customer trial are good techniques)?  Or is it making an item insensitive to manufacturing, customer use, abuse, environmental conditions (Robustness will be the approach you want to apply)?

    These are areas which are covered by DfSS.  I would not try this on your own unless you are willing to do a lot of study and practice many iterations.  The toolkit which is DfSS is extensive and many of the tools and methods take several cycles of learning to become competent at applying.

    There are several good books on DfSS – but my favorite is by Skip (Clyde) Creveling.

    If you are really looking to pursue, find a good guide (consultant) who can guide you along the journey – and it will be a journey of several years, so don’t expect to flip a switch and voila, things are perfect.

    Good luck.



    When I said “creative people are likely to resist” I was thinking of the arts, which I have in my background, where inspiration comes from some magical place which may be called the “muse” and is an individual activity.  There is no process for that and imposing a process is resisted.  DFSS, TRIZ, and some others such as simple brainstorming, leverage group wisdom to discover and agree upon innovative ideas.  DFSS also brings the agreed upon best idea to fruition.

    Brainstorming is easy to understand but can be difficult to implement.  I can refer you to the Wikipedia definition page as a starting point.



    Hey man, it was really nice answer, but can you explain you minds correctly?  Maybe do you have some articles about this?

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