Manufacturing to Target & Six Sigma:  Tools for Our Future




· Manufacturing to Target is a process-focused methodology designed to improve business performance.


· Manufacturing to Target is used to stabilize and standardize critical processes within a company.  In the long term it becomes standard practice and the basis for continual improvement.

· Six Sigma is used to improve targeted areas of strategic processes.  It will become the project methodology for managing process optimization.

Key Concepts

Manufacturing to Target and Six Sigma stem from a few key concepts:

“Critical-to-Quality” Characteristics:                  Attributes that are most important to the customer

Defect:                  Failing to deliver what the customer wants

Process Capability:                  What your process can deliver

Variation:                  What the customer sees and feels

Stable Operation:      Ensuring consistent, predictable processes

Our Customers Feel the Variance, Not the Mean

Often our view of our business is based on averages and average-based measures of our recent past.  However, customers don’t judge us on averages; they feel the variance in each transaction and in every batch.  Customers value consistent, predictable business processes and products that deliver world-class levels of quality.  Manufacturing to Target focuses first on reducing variation and then on improving process capability.

What is Manufacturing to Target?

Manufacturing to Target is a proactive philosophy that focuses on process control.  The central concept is to identify process upsets before non-conforming product is produced.  Doing so allows for control steps to be taken to prevent production of inferior product.  Traditional approaches, by contrast, are reactive and focus on monitoring product that has already been produced.


The first step in Manufacturing to Target is to identify the key process input variables and analyze their relationship with the critical-to-quality output.  Once the relationship between the two is understood, a target input is established that will ensure the product’s conformance.  Next, a process control plan is put into place to control the input around the established target value.

Examples of Key Processes:


·         Billing a customer

·         Developing new products

·         Processing customer orders

·         Upgrading software

·         Managing payroll

·         Hiring employees

·         Budgeting

·         Paying bills

·         Evaluating vendors

·         Managing inventory

Who Helps Make This Happen?

Manufacturing to Target teams are formed for each process area; however, formal titles or organizational structure do not exist.  The team leader, rather than the individual team members, receives training in the methodology and team facilitation skills and then he or she leads the team through the methodology. 


How Does Manufacturing to Target Work?

Manufacturing to Target is implemented for critical processes by following a prescriptive six-step methodology.  The six steps are:

Positive Environment Development

Because, ultimately, it is management’s commitment to Manufacturing to Target that drives the entire organization, an all-important aspect to the success of the program is the support of top-down management.  This means that those at the top must demonstrate support of the process by allowing the necessary time and resources for the activities. 


Key Variable Identification

An internal team with expert knowledge of the process being studied must identify the key process inputs and the relationship to the key process output or critical-to-quality characteristics.


Standards Development/Revision

Once the team identifies the key inputs and their targets, a process control plan is developed to ensure that the variable stays on target.


Specialized Training & Communication

The plan is communicated to the personnel working on the process, and the appropriate level of training is provided.


Statistical Monitoring

After training has occurred,  the control plan is implemented and the process is monitored using statistical control charts.


Statistical Diagnostics

Data is collected from the statistical monitoring and evaluated for improvement opportunities.  The analysis may drive designed experiments or changes in the control plan to optimize the process.