Change can be hard, but in order to improve a process or make a project better or more cost-effective change is necessary. That’s why using a data-driven improvement cycle – like the DMAIC process — that is clear and easy to work with is important to our team at Swiss-Tech so we can keep focusing on our priority of continuously making improvements for our customers and employees.
What is DMAIC (pronounced Duh-May-ICK)
The DMAIC process stands for define, measure, analyze, improve and control.
“It’s a process that shows people that we’re growing and continuously making improvements that benefit our customers,” said Scott Bliss, Swiss-Tech’s Continuous Improvement Engineer.
There are several different types of processes manufacturers use to make improvements, but Bliss said Swiss-Tech chose to use the DMAIC process because it clearly tells you the steps you need to take. “I enjoy this one more because it tells you exactly what you need to do right in the name,” Bliss said. The DMAIC process is part of the Six Sigma problem solving methodology used to eliminate defects in a product, process or service.
Swiss-Tech employees assigned to DMAIC teams work with Bliss on a list of projects that could possibly have quality or production issues, or projects that could be adjusted for cost savings and take them through the DMAIC process.
Steps of the DMAIC process
DEFINE: Swiss-Tech employees establish the possibility of a problem and its importance to the customer and quality of the product.
MEASURE: The DMAIC team establishes a baseline capability of the production process – what is the process now, where is the project at now as far as size or other component parts. The team then measures and remeasures to gather enough data.
ANALYZE: The data is analyzed and digested to determine the key root cause of the problem. The data is put into graphs or charts and analyzed so the team can keep narrowing down all of the information until they determine the root cause.
IMPROVE: A course of action to fix the root cause is developed and implemented. The team then verifies the course of action to make sure it does fix the key root cause.
CONTROL: Once the fix is incorporated into the process, the team implements protocols to make sure the fix is sustained as the project moves forward.
Depending on how often a project is run on the floor, it could take anywhere from a month to up to a year to complete the DMAIC process, Bliss said.
This methodical process prevents any type of quality issue or issues with cost from happening over and over again.
Employees get involved in DMAIC
The team is different for each DMAIC project, but it’s always made up of Bliss, another employee to lead the project, and other team members who are already part of that specific project’s process.
The group meets regularly to discuss the progress and the data, and then presents it to Bliss and other managers to keep the process moving forward with either customer approval or implementation.
“Everyone knows about it on the production floor,” Bliss said. “We make sure everyone knows the results of the process as well – the savings or what processes were changed.”
Bliss said employees involved in a completed DMAIC project receive t-shirts to recognize them for their work on the project. “We like to recognize them for participating, and hopefully they’ll feel appreciated and want to participate in another project.”
To learn more about how the Swiss-Tech team uses the DMAIC process to continuously make improvements for customers, give us a call.