Book Review: Lean Six Sigma and Statistical Tools for Engineers and Engineering Managers, ISBN-13: 978-1-60650-492-5

This book is written by Wei Zhan and Xuru Ding and published through Momentum Press.  The abstract at the beginning of the book states, “The book focuses on the introduction of the basic concepts, processes, and tools used in Lean Six Sigma.”  The authors also chose to include design for six sigma (DFSS) elements that are aided by computer modeling.  Lets take a look at a few of the chapters and see where the book focuses.

MSI was not familiar with the authors of this book.  Fortunately, they describe themselves in the preface like this “Both authors have many years of experience with Lean Six Sigma.  Wei Zhan completed several Six Sigma projects as a system engineer in the automotive industry. He is currently an associate professor at Texas A&M University and is an ASQ certified Six Sigma Black Belt.  Xuru Ding is a Master Black Belt of DFSS at General Motors, leading and coaching DFSS and robust optimization projects in various engineering disciplines. She has also taught cooperate-level training classes in robust optimization and DFSS at General Motors since 1991.

Lean Six Sigma and Statistical Tools for Engineers and Engineering Managers

As with most books on Lean Six Sigma, the first chapter deals with the history of the methodology.  The book does a good job discussing Dr. Deming, the Total Production System (TPS) and all the other pioneering elements of process improvement.  It covers defective parts per million opportunities and how quality is achieved by reducing variation.  The book was written for engineering students, so more advanced students may find this first chapter a little basic.  That’s fine; you must understand the history of the process before you can dig into the core elements.

This book does not waste time when getting to the heart of Lean Six Sigma.  While the first chapter discusses basic history, the second chapter jumps right in with Probability and Statistics.  Some Six Sigma books are written for all levels of ‘statistical mathematical abilities’, this is not one of those books.  Engineers typically have a strong understanding of statistics and that knowledge will be put to the test.

We really like how the authors include examples as they go through the material.  They cover some heavy topics in Chapter 2.  For example, they discuss:  Mutually exclusive events, Calculus of Probabilities, System Probability as a Function of Subsystem Probabilities, and Probability Distributions and Cumulative Distribution Functions.  All of this is covered before DMAIC is even mentioned.

Chapter 3 is where the authors start digging into DMAIC, the process of Lean Six Sigma.  The chapter starts with this explanation: “Every product or process has an intended function with an expected outcome—called a nominal value—and every outcome has some variation. If you sign your name twice, the signatures will not look exactly the same. Similarly, two vehicles of the same model and year are not exactly the same. These are known as variations. Such variation in a set of data can be measured by levels of “sigma,” as we shall explain.”  They then continue to cover important topics like Voice of the Customer (VOC) and how it ties into the process.

Skipping to Chapter 5, this book covers something that many Six Sigma books leave out, Microsoft Excel.  Yes, it covers Minitab and the statistical software that is out there, but Excel is often left out when discussing calculations.  For using Excel they state “There are two places in Excel where you can find statistical analysis tools.  One resides in the functions available in Excel such as AVERAGE, MAX, MIN, MEDIAN, MODE.MULT, which you can find by typing the equal sign (=) in a cell. Excel will then display a list of functions for you to choose from. If the function you need is not displayed on the list, click on More Functions…”  This type of information is very useful since many people don’t realize they already have access to a program that provide powerful statistical insight.  Once they finish discussing Excel, they continue by discussing MATLAB and Minitab.

Chapter 6 covers Lean Six Sigma Projects, Strategic Planning and Project Execution.  In this section they discuss everything from the vision statement to the miles stones and deliverables.  Think of this chapter as the blueprint for a Six Sigma project, it covers all of the important elements you’ll need for a successful project.

Finally, they also includes several case studies in this book.  The case studies help you to identify opportunities, define requirements, and develop concepts for Lean Six Sigma projects.

This book will help you prepare for the following certifications:

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