‘Design for Excellence’ (DfX) is a method to introduce concurrent engineering, the method where engineering activities are performed parallelly with the aim to increase productivity and product quality. Under ‘Design for X’ a wide range of specific design guidelines are summarized, including Design to Cost, Design for Manufacturing, Design for Assembly, Design for Serviceability, etc.
The principle of Design for Excellence can be applied by anyone at any time. It is a design principle. At higher levels, often ‘Design for Six Sigma’ (DfSS) is applied. DfSS offers a number of specific tools and techniques. Because many of these techniques are complex, DfSS is often carried out by Black Belts, Reliability engineers and in some cases by Green Belts.
‘Design for Six Sigma’ (DfSS) is a systematic approach and application of a number of powerful instruments during the innovation process of new products or systems. New products often show problems during the product introduction. New products and services generally have an increased risk of problems and disruptions when they are introduced to the market. It is not unusual for a new car model or a new smartphone model to show teething problems shortly after the introduction. This is a logical consequence of an innovation in which many things are ‘new’. ‘Design for Six Sigma’ has the objective to perform directly at a Six Sigma quality level from the market introduction.
According to Bob Galvin (former CEO of Motorola), process improvement is required as a result of an ineffective design process. It is much better and cheaper to prevent problems than to solve them. The objective of DfX and DfSS is to bring innovation much earlier into a controlled situation and to minimize problems with the market introduction.
“If I ever started with a Six Sigma initiative
again, I would focus on design rather than on production.”
Starting points for a DfSS project are the most critical customer specifications, functional requirements and the greatest risks in the development process. The most critical customer specifications and functional requirements are often the result of a ‘Quality Function Deployment’ (QFD) and the biggest risks are often the outcome of a Design FMEA. An innovation project can contain multiple critical specifications and multiple risks. One innovation project can, therefore, initiate multiple DAMDV projects.
Design for Six Sigma follows a different roadmap than the regular Six Sigma DMAIC roadmap. A frequently used roadmap is the DMADV roadmap, meaning Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify. While the DMAIC is applied in breakthrough projects to solve existing problems, the DMADV is applied in innovation projects to prevent problems.