Design for Excellence

‘Design for Excellence’ (DfX) is a method of introducing concurrent engineering, the method in which engineering activities are done in parallel with the goal of increasing productivity and product quality. Under the heading “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, and so on.

The principle of Design for Excellence can be applied by anyone at any time. It is a design principle. At a higher level, “Design for Six Sigma” (DfSS) is often applied. DfSS offers a number of specific tools and techniques. Because many of these techniques are complex, DfSS is often performed by Black Belts, Reliability engineers and, in some cases, Green Belts.

‘Design for Six Sigma’ (DfSS) is a systematic approach and application of a number of powerful tools during the innovation process of new products or systems. New products often exhibit problems during product introduction. New products and services typically 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 exhibit teething problems shortly after its introduction. This is a logical consequence of an innovation in which many things are “new. ‘Design for Six Sigma’ aims to perform at a Six Sigma quality level right from market launch.

According to Bob Galvin (former CEO of Motorola), process improvement is needed 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 an innovation to a controlled and managed state much earlier and minimize problems at market launch.

“If I were to ever start a Six Sigma initiative again,
I would focus on design rather than production.”

Starting points for a DfSS project are the most critical customer specifications, functional requirements and 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 greatest risks are often the outcome of a Design-FMEA. An innovation project may have 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 commonly used roadmap is the DMADV roadmap, which stands for 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.

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