Design for Six Sigma

When designing an entirely new product, Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) approach can help reduce the number of design iterations, prevent potential quality, safety and reliability problems, achieve high levels of product performance, and fully meet stakeholder needs by incorporating an array of tools and techniques into the design process. DFSS has also been successfully used to develop new services and processes in healthcare, insurance, banking, education, and public service organizations. Process-focused DFSS reduces the amount of time and resources needed to develop, test and implement new processes while increasing the ability of the organization to efficiently deliver reliable services. Designing defect-free products and services implies that critical stakeholder needs, preferences, expectations, and technical requirements have to be fully understood before a design can be completed, tested and implemented. It is important to recognize that traditional Six Sigma DMAIC methodology is primarily focused on improving existing processes. DFSS methodologies, phases, tools, and techniques are not universally recognized and most organizations tend to customize DFSS to suit their specific needs, culture and strategic goals. The most commonly used DFSS models and methodologies include: DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify), DMADOV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Optimize, and Validate), IDOV (Identify, Design, Optimize, and Validate), and DMEDI (Define, Measure, Explore, Develop, and Implement).


Concurrent engineering, also known as simultaneous engineering or Integrated Product Development (IPD), is an iterative, cross-functional and interconnected approach to improve new product design and development process while considering all stages of the product life cycle. This approach requires significant organizational and cultural change to bring together interprofessional teams, obtain input from multiple functional areas, reconcile differences early in the design process, and go through the different design phases simultaneously, rather than consecutively. Concurrent engineering aims to reduce the need for expensive engineering changes, optimize and accelerate design cycles, minimize downstream difficulties in the manufacturing workflow, improve product quality, and reduce total product development cost. Within the philosophy of concurrent engineering, a knowledge-based approach for designing products known as Design for X (DFX) has evolved, where “X” represents characteristics and attributes that should become the focus of the design process. By giving focus to the various aspects of DFX, it is increasingly possible to achieve major reduction in product development and production times. The key characteristics and attributes that should be considered by DFX project teams include: Safety, quality, function, performance, reliability, robustness, manufacturability, assembly, maintainability, testability, recyclability, ergonomics, aesthetics, features, time to market, and packaging. Some of the additional methods, tools and techniques that can be helpful to the product and process designers include Quality Function Deployment (QFD), Robust Design and Process, Porter’s Five Competitive Forces, Portfolio Architecting, Hoshin Planning, Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ), Pugh Analysis, Critical Parameter Management, Axiomatic Design, Systematic Design, Set-Based Design, and many others.