How Inora Helps Achieve Six Sigma Manufacturing Results
The Six Sigma manufacturing standard has become the hallmark of quality control around the globe. The Inora software suite can help you achieve it.
Nearly forty years ago, Bill Smith, an American engineer working at Motorola, devised a way of designing, measuring, and implementing quality standards that would reduce the number of defective parts to a statistically negligible amount. Fifteen years later, that same process became a core feature of Jack Welch’s business strategy at General Electric. Since then, this quality control strategy, known as Six Sigma, has become a quality ideal among leading businesses around the globe. It’s been widely adapted by Fortune 500 companies, and is a common talking point at industry events.
The term Six Sigma refers to the number of standard deviations between the process mean and the limit past which a product falls below quality specifications. If a single standard deviation is one sigma (the Greek letter typically used in mathematics represent a standard deviation), than a process mean that is six sigmas (standard deviations) away from the failure point will produce error-free products 99.99966% on the time.
Achieving the Six Sigma standard of excellence is, by design, a high bar to clear. Fortunately, Inora’s suite of software products is designed to help businesses identify problem areas in their manufacturing workflow, improve testing, and expedite the design iteration process. Here’s how.
The Plan–Do–Study–Act Cycle
One key feature of the Six Sigma production process is that is meant to be an ongoing discipline. Quality checks and controls can’t be done once and then left to run indefinitely. Instead, the process must be subject to continual observation to ensure everything continues to operate at the high quality standard expected of the process.
This requires an iterative assessment of the production cycle commonly referred to as “Plan–Do–Study–Act,” or PDSA. This methodology is implemented manufacturing processes both to improve existing products, and to design new ones. Inora software can aid manufacturers at multiple stages of the development and testing cycle so that their processes improve to better meet Six Sigma outcomes.
Define: What is the system, what are the goals?
Determining the product specifications is the first step in any design process, and in a quality control situation they help businesses focus on the process and desired outcomes. There are some aspects of a product that may tolerate higher levels of variation than others. Differentiating between these critical quality characteristics and those which are unessential is crucial for success.
Measure: What characteristics are Critical to Quality (CTQ)? What is quantifiable?
Once the product specifications have been defined, the next stage in the process is to gather and quantify data. The quality of data is essential to this stage, as are the methods used to extract it. The goal for manufacturers should be to gather the highest-quality data as efficiently as possible, while causing minimal disruption to the supply chain.
Inora offers several systems which improve measurement and data acquisition capabilities. Our Inora Affinity Systems technology (ASYS) has both in-line and off-line capabilities for point cloud matching and machine verification. Our gap measurement tools also provide accurate feedback on door closures that can be used to spot check production processes, even on the factory floor.
Analyze: What are root causes? What are their effects? What are alternatives?
When a manufacturing part fails to meet six sigma standards, determining the root cause of the problem is key. The faster manufacturing businesses discover where the process is at fault, the sooner they can address the issue and get their production back on track.
Inora’s Spacial Reference System (SRS) can perform root cause analysis quickly and effectively. With exact twelve-parameter transformations, perfect accuracy, and complete reliability, it can offer a holistic assessment of your measurement tools faster than any other verification tool on the market.
Design/Improve: How can the process be made better?
Having identified a weak point in the manufacturing process, businesses can then address look for ways to improve their system. In some cases this may mean more regular verification checks, but it may also require a rework of a design element.
Inora’s software suite can work within an R&D department to provide the measurement data and machine verification necessary to improve a product and achieve better results.
Verify/Control: Are the processes being followed? Does the new design work?
During this phase, businesses review their new production output to ensure they meet six sigma standards. Because Six Sigma is an iterative process, it provides the feedback manufacturers need to return to the first step and define the new goals.
As ever, the Inora software suite can help manufacturers collect the data they need to assess the success of their previous iteration. With this new information in hand, they can then move forward with greater clarity toward their next set of objectives.
The Inora software suite improves quality and reduces cost.
Before Six Sigma was implemented, many companies assumed high quality standards were synonymous with high production costs. However, what early pioneers like Motorola and General Electric proved is that raising the quality of production output reduced costs associated with scrap and rework, product recalls, and civil liability lawsuits. Higher production standards improved outcomes for the business, consumers, and even the environment.
Inora plays a key role in helping manufacturers achieve these high standards by identifying areas in the production process that are leading to product loss and inefficiencies, improving the testing process, and expediting the research, design, and iteration process. If you would like to learn more about ways Inora can help your business achieve the Six Sigma manufacturing standard, contact us today for a demonstration.