6 Sigma Supply Chain: The Brief Introduction for Non-Statisticians

Even though there are so many articles about six sigma supply chain, most of them are all related to the application within certain functions in supply chain. This article will explore the related works, show you the example how to apply six sigma to a supply chain project and something to consider about this methodology.

Literature Review
According to extensive literature search, there are not so many journal articles dedicated solely to six sigma supply chain. One example is the article "Analyzing Mitigation of Container Security Risk Using Six Sigma DMAIC Approach in Supply Chain Design" by Kumar et al 2008. Even though the title indicates something related to supply chain design, it's merely about six sigma in security initiative.

More comprehensive approach can be found in the article "A conceptual model for the application of Six Sigma methodologies to supply chain improvement" by Knowles et al 2005. The authors modify an existing DMAIC methodology to cope with the challenges in supply chain management.

Another notable paper is "Supply chain management six sigma: a management innovation methodology at the Samsung Group" by Yang et al 2005. They've created the custom methodology called DMAEV which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Enable and Verify. They also incorporated SCOR model into this project.

The last piece of work I would like to talk about this the paper called "Quantifying Supply Chain Trade-Offs Using Six Sigma, Simulation, and Designed Experiments to Develop a Flexible Distribution Network" by Kumar et al 2011. Even though the title sounds complicated, a large portion of this work demonstrate the way to apply six sigma to supply chain context which is simple enough to make the good infographic out of it as below,

More about Infographic
This project uses Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) in "Analyze" phase. As you can see, FMEA is a kind of statistics method that is less intimidating because a table shows questions that you should ask yourself. If you can answer and has some historical data to support it, it's most likely that you can do the project like this as well.

Despite the fact that six sigma is a statistical method, applying the DMAIC framework appropriately and deploying basic six sigma tools can create the good business results. More importantly, a six sigma supply chain project should taking into account of multiple members/processes across the supply chain rather than within single function/department.