Design for Six Sigma


Q: I am preparing a short training session for my company on the topic of Design for Six Sigma.  I am interested in looking at some examples of how other companies or organizations have used DFSS.  Is it possible to get case studies from ASQ on this topic?

A: Thank you for contacting ASQ and the Quality Information Center.  Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) can be defined as “robust design that is consistent with the applicable manufacturing processes to assure a fully capable process that will deliver quality products” (from The Quality Improvement Glossary by Donald L. Siebels). 

The ASQ Knowledge Center has over 1500 case studies on various topics.  I have listed some case studies below that deal specifically with the topic of Design for Six Sigma at companies/organizations such as Ford, Delphi Electronics, and the University of Miami:

“DFSS Lights the Way”, Six Sigma Forum Magazine, May 2009
Abstract: Delphi Electronics, a global supplier of automotive electronics and safety systems, uses many problem-prevention and solving methods to achieve flawless product launches and reduce variation and waste. When assigned a particularly challenging project, Delphi’s development team quickly determined that the Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) method offered the best opportunity to develop a process that would meet internal and customer requirements. DFSS minimized development costs by guiding the team to use a very efficient experimental strategy. As a result, capital equipment requirements were reduced, customer performance requirements were exceeded, and the team achieved greater than 6 sigma process capability.

“Six Sigma Saves Nearly $1 Billion, Key Customers, and a Company”, Case Study, Sept. 2006
Abstract: Just months before severe business conditions threatened the company’s economic future, Cummins Inc. deployed an all-encompassing Six Sigma program. Using three versions of Six Sigma, (Technology Development for Six Sigma, DMAIC, and Design for Six Sigma) Cummins has saved nearly $1 billion through the completion of nearly 5,000 improvement projects. While Six Sigma is commonly used to improve internal production processes, Cummins extends this quality methodology to every facet of its business and beyond, to both customers and suppliers.

“Design for Six Sigma at Ford”, Six Sigma Forum Magazine, Nov. 2004
Abstract: Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) is a product development approach that complements Six Sigma problem solving methodology. Many companies developed their own DFSS processes before a standard template became available, but all versions share fundamental strategies and tools. Ford Motor Co. developed its program in 1999 with emphases on the training of black belts and the completion of DMAIC projects. Implementation began at Ford’s Powertrain Division, but soon other divisions were launching DFSS as well. Issues with training and execution of projects highlighted assumptions that required reevaluation, including DFSS rationale, project integration, process flexibility, and training. DFSS implementation at Ford showed the challenges to be more cultural and organizational than technical. DFSS at Ford has emerged as an enhancement to the present product development system that reinforces the company’s Six Sigma skill base.

“Designing New Housing at the University of Miami: A ‘‘Six Sigma” DMADV/DFSS Case Study”, Quality Engineering, July 2006
Abstract: The two methods employed in Six Sigma initiatives to attain a high standard of quality are the define-measure-analyze-improve-control (DMAIC) method and the define-measure-analyze-design-verify (DMADV) method. In this case study, the DMADV management model is used to design a new dormitory concept at the University of Miami. Its purpose it to provide a roadmap for conducting a Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) project.

“Design for Six Sigma and Product Portfolio Optimization”, Six Sigma Forum Magazine, Nov. 2007
Abstract: DuPont recently undertook a Six Sigma Project designed to optimize its customer service and keep supply ahead of demand. Run primarily in a design for Six Sigma (DFSS) framework, the project was as much about developing a product portfolio performance analysis process as it was about identifying areas for improvement in the portfolio. The project’s findings were used to help decide which poor performing products could be dropped from the portfolio and to help improve the performance of other products. Overall, the project identified initiatives that when implemented could deliver additional manufacturing capacity needed to improve customer service.

 “Combine Quality and Speed to Market”, Six Sigma Forum Magazine, Aug. 2004
Abstract: Samsung Electronics Company recently adopted Six Sigma DMAIC methodology to prevent anticipated problems and gather feedback data for mass production. Market demands required the company to complete a chip redesign project within six months. The main challenge was to adapt the DFSS methodology to a semiconductor process development that typically takes one to two years. Samsung credits its success with the DFSS project to factors including allowing sufficient time, organizing cross functional teams as needed, not being bound by tools, and guaranteeing process robustness and process margin.

“Seizing an Opportunity”, Six Sigma Forum Magazine, Feb. 2009
Abstract: The U.S. Coast Guard applied design for Six Sigma (DFSS) to redesign an operational requirements process that provides the basis for acquisition programs to develop major assets. A cross-functional integrated process team was formed to initiate a Six Sigma project for developing a new requirements process, but they faced challenges when applying Six Sigma to a knowledge process in a headquarters situation. The team modified the DFSS method and tools to fit a long cycle-time knowledge process with few metrics. The Coast Guard’s modification can serve as a model for applying DFSS to similar processes in many organizations.

I hope that you find these case studies helpful.  Please contact the ASQ Quality Information Center if you need additional assistance.

Best regards,

ASQ Research Librarian
Milwaukee, WI

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One Response to Design for Six Sigma

  1. I was looking for a nice concise list of case studies on the use of six sigma in various settings and these examples will be very useful. Thank you.

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