The concept of Six Sigma did not come overnight. Six Sigma history is almost 200 years old. From 1798 when Eli Whitney introduced the concept of interchangeable products to 1987 when Motorola finally introduced the concept of Six Sigma for the first time. In first 100 years, evolution was slower and did not get considerable attention from top level management in big companies. The actual hunger for quality engineering and management developed after world war-2.
Rare image of interchangeable parts for cotton gin
Six Sigma History and its need in the industry
World War left Japan with hunger for better manufacturing techniques
After world war-2 Japan was crawling desperately to ride the ladder of success. To make the Japanese economy stable, it’s leaders had to come up with an industrial revolution. After getting the green light from US and announcement of ended war, Homer Sarasohn was the first person to share core manufacturing principles with Japanese business tycoons. He also introduced the concept of data importance and use of statistics for producing high-end products.
Moreover, in 1950, Dr. Deming visited Japan to provide advanced statistical tools and techniques for better production.
Japan took quality practices seriously
Japanese could not underestimate the power of Statistic science because they had seen their companions thriving in the war with the supreme advantage of data. After 20 years of continuous improvement and statistic revolution, Toyota launched ‘Camry’, which is now in its 10th generation. And rest is history. Toyota went launching successful models’ year after year and Detroit remained unaware of these advanced quality techniques. Until Dr. Deming cautioned them including Chrysler, GM, and Ford.
First model of Toyota Camry
Rising demand for fuel-economic cars had done massive damage to the market of American cars. And then they started worrying about lean production and producing cheap on fuel cars.
American Hustle for supreme quality
On the other side, Dr. Juran and Philip Crosby went on inventing new quality techniques to achieve maximum industrial productivity with premium quality. Later, followed by Malcolm Baldridge. In 1988, US government announced its one and only quality award, better known as ‘Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award’.
First official use of Six Sigma
In actual, Motorola is the first company who introduced the concept of Six Sigma. Six Sigma came into existence when Motorola engineer Bill Smith and his teammates realized the importance of process capability and product specification index. By comparing each product with a standard product and judging the process capability by finding defected products in a million, they invented the term DPMO, which became the baseline of Six Sigma.
Adoption of Six Sigma by other companies
After Motorola, the concept of Six Sigma went viral and several companies such as GM, Honeywell, Whirlpool etc. implemented Six Sigma in their facilities. In early twentieth century, many big companies like Amazon, Bank of America, Caterpillar etc. used Six Sigma technique to minimize their defected products. Six Sigma history explains clearly that the necessity is the mother of invention.