Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma Definitions

Glossary terms, history, people and definitions about Lean and Six Sigma

Motorola Shift

Motorola determined that processes vary and drift over time based on a long term study of the variation in stacking of discs back in the 1980’s. This variation showed the the process average can shift up to 1.5 standard deviations, and should be factored into the DPMO calculations. However, not all processes will shift this exact amount, but the concept of short term vs long term variation should be understood and accounted for. It is factored into the calculations for Cpk (short term) and Ppk (long term) when performing a capability study.

If you measure the actual performance of a 6 Sigma process, it translates to about 2 defects per billion opportunities (0.002 DPMO). However, the Six Sigma literature says that you will achieve 3.4 DPMO with a 6 sigma process. The difference in these two numbers is based on a 1.5 standard deviation (sigma) shift that is incorporated into the sigma level calculations. In other words, a 6 sigma process should calculate DPMO as a 4.5 sigma process.

This can create confusion in the calculations and interpretation of sigma levels. It is not recommended to focus on the sigma level, but rather improving performance on your primary metric (reducing defects or time delays or customer complaints).

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