6 Sigma: path to improvement


6 Sigma is a well-established set of methodologies for driving continuous improvement in manufacturing and processes. At Perkins, it is integrated with the Caterpillar Production System (CPS) to maintain consistently high quality in all our products – your guarantee of excellence and reliability.

At Perkins, we’re determined to produce the best engines every time. Every unit that comes off our production lines, anywhere in the world, has to reach the same high standard. 6 Sigma methodologies and the CPS help us achieve that.

A true 6 Sigma process is one that is considered statistically likely to produce a 99.99966 percent error-free output.

Path to improvemment


But 6 Sigma is about people as well as processes.

Employees at Perkins submit some 15,000 ideas each year for improvements to the way we work, and each one is considered seriously before feedback is given and information provided either about how the idea is being implemented or why it’s not.

Each employee is empowered to stop the production line if there’s something wrong. This means that errors are picked up at once, and not repeated.

Employees and top-level management co-operate in regular, hands-on Rapid Improvement Workshops, in which changes to production processes are designed, assessed, analysed and implemented over one week.

The result is that employees are involved and enthusiastic about our company and our products.

“You can tell the power of the 6 Sigma methodologies from their effects on our employees, our customers and our company. They enable us to produce world-class quality products every time.”
Stephen Thrall, 6 Sigma master black belt

Continuous improvement

Both the CPS and 6 Sigma projects start with the definition of the improvement that is being sought in the process. Exactly what is it that you want to achieve?

Then the desired improvement has to be measured – data has to be gathered to assess the gap between current performance and what is required.

This is followed by analysis – identifying and eliminating the root causes of any errors in the system.

At the improvement stage, brainstorming sessions or other techniques will be used to fix on creative solutions to the problems that have been found.

And finally, at the control stage, the process will be checked and monitored to see that the improvements that have been implemented produce a permanent gain in performance.

6 Sigma at Perkins

6 Sigma and the CPS are a practical expression of our determination at Perkins to put the customer at the centre of everything we do. They aim to produce stable and consistent processes that will result in the manufacture of uniformly excellent products, wherever they are in the world.

These are global standards that operate in every Perkins facility around the world.

Our computerised and robotic production systems, which guarantee consistency and excellence, are a product of 6 Sigma and CPS methodology. Waste and inefficiencies are constantly driven out of every stage of the system; processes are standardised as much as possible; and we achieve world-class standards of safety, quality and delivery.

They mean that all our teams are fully engaged in the drive for efficiency; that safety standards are maintained in all our facilities; that there are no lapses from a consistently high standard of manufacture; and that imaginative problem-solving becomes second nature.

To that end, our employees all reach the basic Yellow Belt standard of 6 Sigma training, with many of them going on to attain Green Belt status. Several throughout the organisation reach the levels of Black Belt and Champion.

For our customers, this means that our whole company is committed to the 6 Sigma ideas of consistently high quality, efficiency and reliability.

It’s one big way of ensuring that we continue to constantly exceed your expectations.


Fast facts

How do 6 Sigma methodologies affect Perkins?

  • Driving constant improvement in manufacturing processes
  • Ensuring consistently high quality and reliability
  • Eliminating safety incidents
  • Keeping all our teams engaged in the drive for customer satisfaction

Technology in manufacturing

The robots in our factory

Modern technology has revolutionized manufacturing. In controlling and monitoring energy use, in making our processes safer and more efficient, and in enabling us to develop new and efficient ways of working, new computerised technology has created a leaner, fitter, and more profitable environment.

Learn more