The Basic Six Sigma Definition For Confused People

Here is a basic six sigma definition for people who are not exposed to the ins and outs of the lean manufacturing process. Terms like this are often used in the injection mold making industry, yet many people don’t actually understand that basics.

Six Sigma is also a “brand name”, used by thousands of consultants, but the trademark is owned by Motorola. That is why you see it capitalised when it is used by Motorola and in lower-case letters otherwise.

How can you define six sigma? Sigma is a long-standing symbol used by engineers, mathematicians, and statisticians as a unit to measure statistical variation. Sigma is Greek for the letter ‘S’. Why ‘six’? It refers to the amount of deviation from the common bell curve used to measure change. Six sigma represents “almost perfect”, or 3.4 defects per million.

Basic Six Sigma Definition
6 Sigma

You can get a thorough understanding of all the components of lean manufacturing, including Value Stream Mapping, six sigma, 5S and much more by reading more here.

Six sigma measures defect occurrences

The bars on a six sigma graph represent the deviation from perfect. Obviously, if you are making plastic parts, you would be very happy indeed if you could have only 3.4 defective parts per million! That is what this is all about. It is a method that enables you to measure your processes in order to improve your bottom line.

One reason it is difficult to provide a basic six sigma definition is because it means different things to different people and different industries. It was originally developed by Motorola as a way to improve manufacturing, but it soon grew to include management and service industries, such as banking.

Can six sigma help in injection molding

  • Here are some benefits reported by several injection molders:
  • Improvements related to in-process inspection effectiveness
  • Increased weigh-count throughput
  • Cycle time and scrap reduction
  • Help reduce process variation and costs
  • This is not only something that benefits large corporations, it can be tailored to suit small and medium sized companies as well. A good example of this is GW Plastics, in Bethel, Vermont.
Basic Six Sigma Definition

Lean manufacturing initiatives work, quite well. However, it takes a total commitment from everyone involved to reduce mold making costs and improve quality.

It is common knowledge that a program such as this will only work if there is an absolute commitment from top management. It is a complicated, time consuming and somewhat expensive program to become involved with. The rewards can be huge though, and the company bottom line will show it.

There are many, many companies offering six sigma services. There is even one called Motorola University, the same people who developed this in the first place! You can earn your “green belt” or “black belt” and become a trainer by taking online courses as well.

This is certainly the most popular quality improvement program in history. It is not a “flash in the pan”, though some companies fail to follow through and realize the benefits. It really encompasses the best of the quality programs that have preceeded it and can help your company in many ways. This should help to define six sigma!

If you want to learn how to use the lean process, I highly recommend the Lean Manufacturing web-based training course. You will get a thorough understanding of all the components of lean manufacturing, including Value Stream Mapping, six sigma, 5S and much more.


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