Purdue Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Six Sigma: Everyone's Talking 'Bout It!

Everywhere we travel lately, we are being told that Indiana manufacturers are launching Six Sigma programs in 2006. And many have asked for our assistance in rolling out these new initiatives.

For those of you who are Six Sigma novices, let's talk about the basics:

  • Six Sigma is a highly disciplined process that helps companies focus on developing/delivering near-perfect products/services.
  • Origin: traced back to the 1920s – Walter Shewhart showed that three sigma from the mean is the point where a process requires correction. The credit for the term “Six Sigma” goes to Bill Smith, a Motorola engineer.
  • Most companies operate at the three to four sigma level: that's 6,200 - 67,000 defects per million opportunities, which requires these firms to spend a portion of their revenues to fix defects.
  • At the Six Sigma level, products/processes/services experience only 3.4 defects per million opportunities. That is 99.99966% good!
  • The central idea: measure how many defects you have, and then systematically figure out how to eliminate them, which gets you as close to “zero defects” as possible.
  • Six Sigma sub-method: DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) is used for existing processes falling below specification and looking for improvement.

Key Characteristics:

  • Leadership commitment – Achieving Six Sigma isn't easy. Commitment must start at the top executive level, and be practiced by everyone in the organization.
  • Managing decisions with data – Base decisions on data versus the “I think” or “In my opinion” approach. Applying readily available data to DMAIC forms the foundation for your new methodology.
  • Delighting your customers – Look at the business from your customer's perspective; discover what they need, what they see, what they feel. Identify areas that add value – from their perspective. If you don't delight your customers, there's always a competitor who can.
  • Training and culture change – Changing the way everyone approaches his/her job is one of the key factors that ensures your company will become a successful Six Sigma organization. High caliber training is required, and disciplined implementation follows.

Now let's talk about how Purdue can help.

Starting in Q1 of 2006, the Purdue Technical Assistance Program is pleased to offer a comprehensive Six Sigma Program that includes management seminars, Black Belt and Green Belt training, and on-site implementation assistance.


Six Sigma Black Belt Training and Certification Program

A cost-effective method to train and certify your staff in Six Sigma techniques.

Our Black Belt Program consists of 11 days of intensive classroom training, a Transformation Planner to help identify possible projects, and visits to your company to assist in project selection and implementation. Training is followed by a one-day review and the administration of the Six Sigma Black Belt Certification Test. Each participant receives a copy of the MiniTab Statistical Software package.

The training includes:

PHASE 1: Define & Measure (3 days of training)
Provides an overview of the Six Sigma Strategy and an introduction to DMAIC method for process improvement. Includes in-depth training on tools for defining customer expectations and effective project selection. These materials include: Creating Project Charters, Voice of the Customer (VOC) Planning, High-level and Detailed Process Mapping, FMEA, Measurement System Analysis (MSA), and calculating baseline process capability. Participants begin to use Six Sigma on their selected projects.

ON-SITE VISIT: Transformation Planner and Project Definition
Tour of your facility, deliver Transformation Planner, and provide assistance in project definition.

PHASE 2: Analyze (4 days of training)
Introduces the Black Belt candidate to planning and execution of effective data collection and analysis. These tools are used to identify Critical Inputs that influence process outputs. Topics include Multi-Vari analysis, hypothesis testing, Design-of-Experiment (DOE), and regression analysis.

ON-SITE VISIT: Assist, Guide, and Coach on Project
Provide assistance, guidance, and coaching as needed to help with the selected project.

PHASE 3: Improve and Control (3 days of training and a half-day testing)
During the final phase of training, participants continue to learn to apply Six Sigma to an actual project within their organization. Includes additional DOE training and covers methods to identify and verify the system improvements necessary to control the newly identified Critical Inputs. Expanded hypothesis testing, final process capability, and trial implementation by pilot study are discussed. Participants learn the value and necessity of control tools that enables their organization to sustain the gains produced by their project work.

Two to three weeks following completion of formal training, a day is reserved for review of the course material and administration of the Black Belt Certification Test.

Black Belt certification is awarded to participants who complete all 11 days of training, pass the Black Belt Certification Test, and submit evidence of a completed successful Six Sigma project within 120 days of the test date. Purdue University Technical Assistance Program Six Sigma Black Belt Training and Certification cost is $3,000 per person.


Six Sigma Green Belt Training and Certification Program

We can also train Six Sigma Green Belts in a subset of Black Belt tools and methodologies. Green Belts assist Black Belts with major projects and can independently lead minor projects. At many companies, Green Belts have a part-time continuous improvement role. The Green Belt training is for employees at all levels of an organization. Participants will leave the training with a thorough understanding of the DMAIC process, data collection techniques, and the statistical methods used in Six Sigma projects.

Our Six Sigma Green Belt Program is structured in a three-phase approach, consisting of a five-day curriculum delivered over two different weeks. We offer two days of training the first week and two to three weeks later, we would deliver the other three days of training. This staggered approach will help Green Belts solidify their training experience with on-the-job application and understand their role in driving process improvement in their company.

The Green Belt Training and Certification, like the Black Belt training, is comprised of a three-phase program that includes:

  • Phase 1: Define and Measure (2 days of training)
  • Phase 2: Analyze (2 days of training)
  • Phase 3: Improve and Control (1 day of training)

Participants completing all five days of training will receive a Certificate of Completion. Green Belt Certification is issued to participants who submit evidence of meaningful contributions to a completed Six Sigma Project within 120 days of the completion of formal training.

Purdue University Technical Assistance Program Six Sigma Green Belt Training and Certification cost is $2,000 per person.

For more information about Purdue Technical Assistance Program Six Sigma Program, please contact Jim Handy at (317) 275-6813, (800) 877-5182, or by e-mail: jhandy@purdue.edu.


Dietra Rosenkoetter
Account Manager
Purdue University
Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center