Six Sigma in Action

Here are a few case studies that illustrate how Six Sigma projects work in reality. While this article will give you an understanding of Six Sigma deployment at the project level, bear in mind that these summaries omit significant elements such as the leadership and infrastructure required for the projects to be successful. For a deeper look into these critical success factors, please refer to my previous articles or my book, The Six Sigma Handbook (McGraw-Hill).

  • Revamping Accounts Receivable: A Six Sigma team was put in charge of improving the collection process of the accounts receivable department. With the CFO as the project sponsor and improved cash flow as the key objective, the team used the average age of uncollected accounts as their primary metric. By streamlining the process and addressing discrepancies, they managed to reduce the average time for invoice collection from 57 days to 37, leading to considerable savings.
  • Improving Printed Wiring Board Components: The Material Review Board assigned the Six Sigma team to address chronic failures at the final product test. By focusing on the Printed Wiring Board (PWB) assembly area and tackling errors at various insertion points, the team drastically reduced test failures, enhancing customer satisfaction.
  • Reducing Cycle Time: A program manager chartered the Six Sigma team to speed up the introduction of new programs. The team worked on assessing the capability of complex numerically controlled machining equipment to ensure engineering designs could be efficiently manufactured. The project enabled better evaluation of design feasibility and optimal allocation of CNC machines.
  • Resolving Injection Molded Parts Issues: Tasked with investigating field failures of molded plastic parts, the Six Sigma team quickly identified a new process as the root cause and rectified the problem, thereby preventing further field failures.
  • Enhancing Wire Bond: Following feedback from a key customer about wire-bond failures, the Six Sigma team addressed issues in both the wire bonding and testing processes, effectively eliminating the problem.
  • Streamlining Purchase Order Process: A Six Sigma team managed to substantially reduce the processing time of obtaining a purchase order from six weeks to a significantly shorter period, resulting in enhanced customer satisfaction.
  • Optimizing Etched Circuit Boards: In response to the sporadic problem of photoresist breakdown, a Six Sigma team pinpointed the root causes and successfully eradicated the issue, thus preventing production delays and improving customer relationships.

These real-world examples illustrate the tangible impact that Six Sigma can have on business operations, leading to more efficient processes and improved outcomes.