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Six Sigma and the Evolution of Quality in Product Development

Summary: It has been said that all models are wrong, but some are useful. The combination of a model of product development as a mapping of elements between various domains and a model concerning methods or levels of thinking produces a new model that can be used to illustrate the history and evolution of quality and the part Six Sigma and Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) play in product development. Earliest attempts at quality in product development were based on inspection in either the process, design, or customer domains. The transition from such event thinking to the utilization of process patterns in engineering and manufacturing to build quality into products represented a major mind-set shift. Recent use of structural tools lay the foundation for good design and permitted smoother functioning of the process-level methods. The evolution of Six Sigma can be shown to parallel these changes in quality thinking. Six Sigma addresses event level concerns that occur in product development after the fact. DFSS represents a higher evolution of methodology, incorporating pattern level thinking and tools to build quality into the product or service. The use of new structural tools such as TRIZ and axiomatic design will make Six Sigma and DFSS even more effective and productive in the future.

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  • Topics: Product Development and Recall, Quality Tools, Six Sigma, Inspection, Problem Solving
  • Keywords: Inspection,Problem solving,Product development,Product quality,Quality tools,Schematic models,Six Sigma
  • Author: Smith, Larry R.
  • Journal: Six Sigma Forum Magazine