Barry Johnson’s picture

By: Barry Johnson

You see it all the time. After an initial flurry of excitement and support, an organization’s operational excellence effort bogs down. Regardless of the tools or methodologies used, passion dies down and focus gets diverted to other issues. It doesn’t matter if a company utilizes lean, Six Sigma, theory of constraints, or other tool sets; after a period of time, project velocity decreases and cycle times grow. How can an organization kick-start and reenergize its efforts? This article walks us through this question by looking at fictional company Weaver Industries to see how they pumped new life into their lean Six Sigma effort.

Change management

A critical aspect of any operational excellence philosophy is change management. Change is a scary word for most people, and it seems like the stars have to align in order for change to happen. In effect, the stars do have to align; at least all of the elements of change must be present. Figure 1 shows the elements of change, and the consequences of not having all elements in place.

 

Figure 1. Elements needed for change to occur

Li Zongming’s default image

By: Li Zongming

Design of experiments (DOE) is a crucial tool in Six Sigma quality management and its application is widespread in Japan; nevertheless, many manufacturing companies in other countries have not formally adopted it because of its complex concepts and costs. As a matter of fact, the essence of the DOE method lies in optimizing the parameters of engineering design and mass production. This article features a case study of reducing tire leakage rate with DOE method.

Terminology

DOE is a statistically organized method that is implemented by altering (changing the levels) inputs (factors) and then observing the output (the interaction effects among various factors and the response of specific quality characteristics); that is, y=f(x) where x stands for input and y stands for output. The philosophy of the DOE approach originates from British mathematician R.A. Fisher in the early 20th century.

Full factorial design (FFD), also called a fully-crossed design, measures the effect of each factor on a response variable. That is to say, all possible combinations of levels and factors are treated.

Andreas Eberhard’s picture

By: Andreas Eberhard

Modern equipment can be sensitive to brief disturbances on utility power mains. Electrical systems are subject to a wide variety of power quality problems that can interrupt production processes, affect sensitive equipment, and cause downtime, scrap, and capacity losses. The most common disturbance, by far, is a sag: a brief reduction in voltage lasting a few hundred milliseconds.

Sags are commonly caused by fuse or breaker operation, motor starting, or capacitor switching, but they are also triggered by short circuits on the power distribution system caused by events such as snakes slithering across insulators, trenching machines hitting underground cables, and lightning ionizing the air around high-voltage lines. Many utilities report that 80 percent of electrical disturbances originate within the user’s facility.

A decade ago, the solution to voltage sags was to try to fix them by somehow storing enough energy and releasing it onto the AC mains when voltage dropped. Some of the old solutions included an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), flywheels, and ferroresonant transformers.

William Tandler’s picture

By: William Tandler

Formatting constraints prevent us from formatting this article in a way that might make it easier for the reader to understand. If you have problems understanding the web version of this article, download a pdf by clicking here.
--Editor

1. Introduction

In March 2009 the ASME released a new Y14.5 standard, the first since 1994, and there is much in it of great interest and benefit. In order to help potential users decide whether or not to adopt it, we attempt to cast some light on its most important novelties. To set the stage, we start with a definition of GD&T as a whole, in order to be sure we are all on the same page. Next we ask why a new standard might be interesting. Finally, we provide a brief overview of the contents of this evaluation before we go into detail.

Miriam Boudreaux’s picture

By: Miriam Boudreaux

Well, a simple answer is no, you don’t need a consultant to achieve ISO 9001 certification. In fact, many companies achieve ISO 9001 on their own, by appointing key employees to the task. The implications, however, of trying to implement a system on your own can be a set back to your business if resources are stretched too thin and can quickly outweigh any money saved by not hiring a consultant.

Let’s say you are the production manager of a cable company. You are an expert on cables and so are your people. One day you are asked to look for a better provider for health and insurance benefits for your employees because the current provider is not working well. What would you do? Your employees are your assets and their well being affects you indirectly, but are you the right person for this task? It may take an enormous amount of time to research and investigate what is available out there and what kind of questions to ask to get a better provider for health and insurance benefits. The time and cost factors are best optimized in assigning this task to an expert on employee benefits matters.

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By: NASA Kennedy Tech Transfer News

What does an innovator do when existing methods of calibrating a critical environment pressure sensor are cumbersome and produce shoddy results? Richard Deyoe and Stephen Stout, ASRC Aerospace meteorologists based at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, decided to design and build their own calibration unit. Now, Setra Systems—the company whose pressure sensor Deyoe and Stout were trying to calibrate—is using their invention to improve its own product line.

In the early 1990s, Deyoe and Stout wanted an accurate, cost-effective technique to perform onsite qualification testing of Setra Systems’ Model C264, a new, high-accuracy, low-differential pressure transducer. The basic problem was that new pressure transducer technology and accuracy had exceeded the accuracy of commercially available calibration equipment. For the qualification testing, a portable, lower-cost calibrator was needed that could control the differential pressure to a high degree of resolution without having to be in an environmentally controlled room, and have the capability to transfer the accuracy of the standards laboratory into the qualification testing.

R. Eric Reidenbach Ph.D.’s picture

By: R. Eric Reidenbach Ph.D.

Pick up any article or book, attend any conference on Six Sigma, or talk with any Black Belt or Master Black Belt and you will hear the Six Sigma gospel about the importance of the voice of the customer. For example, in their book Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World's Top Corporations (Currency Random House, 2000) authors Mikel Harry and Richard Schroeder argue, "The heart of Six Sigma lies in improving products and services what will benefit the customer. Companies need to understand how their customers measure quality and to create products and services that meet their expectations." (p. 170)

Clearly the authors are referring to the end user or the buyer of the product or service.

Julia M. Rahn Ph.D.’s picture

By: Julia M. Rahn Ph.D.

A

debate exists as to whether making an error is the same as making a mistake. In baseball, it's an error if a fielder misplays a ball in a way that allows a batter or base runner to reach one or more additional bases, when such an advance should have been prevented given ordinary effort by the fielder. The fielder made an error. He misjudged the speed, direction, or height of the ball coming at him.

While errors are tabulated at every game, some legendary mistakes show a profound difference between errors and mistakes. Pete Rose will never be in the Baseball Hall of Fame even though he was considered one of the best players in baseball history. Rose was found to have bet on baseball while he managed the Cincinnati Reds. This mistake led to him being banned from professional baseball and his legacy as a truly great player forever tarnished.

Alex Lucas’s picture

By: Alex Lucas

For decades, traditional touch probes on coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) have been the gold standard by which parts have been inspected and verified. However, this time-consuming process becomes an even bigger drain on a quality department’s valuable resources as the parts it is charged with inspecting contain increasingly complex free-form surfaces that take an exponentially longer time to thoroughly inspect.

Tracy Willis’s picture

By: Tracy Willis

Do you hear Six Sigma professionals express frustration that the organization does not support their efforts? 

Are there department heads in your life who have complained that their Six Sigma professionals are not delivering the needed results? And that each project is too time-consuming?

Have you heard stories about CFOs who insist that the sizable investment in Six Sigma training and program initiation has not—and never will—pay off? After all, it costs around $20,000 just to train one Black Belt.

If you can answer “yes” to one or more of the above questions, you are not alone. Many Six Sigma professionals will tell you that sweeping program improvements are needed for Six Sigma’s validity to be verified.

Many Six Sigma professionals feel frustrated that managers are focused only on short-term results to please shareholders. They feel that if managers would just allow more time, the desired results would be delivered. In reality, managers will not change their position because the pressures they face from executives, shareholders, and analysts will not go away. Six Sigma professionals must give management what they are looking for by producing results more quickly and effectively.

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