[tps_header]An overview of Six Sigma reveals a methodology for quality improvement. The trademark is owned by Motorola, and as such Six Sigma is a “brand name;” read on…[/tps_header]
[tps_title]What does Six Sigma mean?[/tps_title]

Lean Manufacturing

What Is Lean Manufacturing?

Because it is also used by thousands of consultants, you see it capitalized when it is used by Motorola and in lower-case letters otherwise. This distinction is often overlooked and in some ways the two are synonymous.

Sigma is a long-standing symbol used by engineers, mathematicians, and statisticians as a unit to measure statistical variation. Sigma is Greek for the letter ‘S’. Why the ‘six’? This refers to the amount of deviation from the common bell curve used to measure change. Six sigma represents “almost perfect”, or 3.4 defects per million.

So, if you could count the bars to the right of the top of a bell curve, you would get six sigma. This represents the deviation from perfection. Obviously, if you are making plastic parts, you would be very happy indeed if you could have only 3.4 defective parts per million! That is what this is all about. It is a method that enables you to measure your processes in order to improve your bottom line.

One reason it is difficult to define six sigma is because it means different things to different people and different industries. Though it was originally developed by Motorola as a way to improve manufacturing, but it soon grew to include management and service industries, such as banking.
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