Process Sigma Calculator Assumptions



Unit – A unit is any item that is produced or processed which is liable for measurement or evaluation against predetermined criteria or standards.



DPU – Defects per unit (DPU) represents the number of defects divided by the number of products.

Example: If there are 34 defects in 750 units DPU will be 34 divided by 750 is equal to 0.045.

DPMO – Defects per opportunity (DPO) represents total defects divided by total opportunities. DPO is a preliminary calculation to help you calculate DPMO (defects per million opportunities). Multiply DPO by one million to calculate DPMO.

Example: If there are 34 defects out of 750 units having 10 oppurtunities per unit, then DPO=34/750*10=0.045/10=0.0045

Defects (%) -Once you have determined the operational definition of what constitutes a defect: The total number of defects counted on the population in question divided by the total population count. Calculated as (1-Yield).

Yield (%) – Yield is the percentage of a process that is free of defects. OR Yield is defined as a percentage of met commitments (total of defect free events) over the total number of opportunities.

  • First Time Yield – FTY
  • Rolled Throughput Yield – RTY

Understanding the Basic and Advanced Modes

The Basic Mode of the Sigma Calculator automatically adds a 1.5 Sigma shift to the process Sigma value that is calculated. Why is this done? It’s done because it is the “standard” way that Sigma is reported (note: this may be different in your company, but it is done in this manner by Motorola, GE and many other companies). By doing so, the calculator result assumes that you are providing long-term data and it is providing short-term Sigma. The 1.5 Sigma shift is based on the assumption that over time, and with a sufficiently large number of samples, a realistic Sigma value is 1.5 Sigma less than that calculated to show the success of your project (i.e. that shown in this calculator and in reports to your company).

If you want to calculate the process Sigma using data other than long-term, you should switch to the Advanced Mode where you can change the process Sigma shift value from 1.5 to whatever you feel is appropriate.

Here are a couple of examples to help illustrate the calculations. A long-term 93% yield (e.g. 100 opportunities, 7 defects) equates to a process Sigma long-term value of 1.48 (with no Sigma shift) or a process Sigma short-term value of 2.98 (with a 1.5 Sigma shift). A long-term 99.7% yield (e.g. 1,000 opportunities, 3 defects) equates to a process Sigma long-term value of 2.75 (with no Sigma shift) or a process Sigma short-term value of 4.25 (with the 1.5 sigma shift).

Final Thought: When we talk about a Six Sigma process, we are referring to the process short-term (now). When we talk about DPMO of the process, we are referring to long-term (the future). We refer to 3.4 defects per million opportunities as our goal. This means that we will have a 6 sigma process now in order to have in the future (with the correction of 1.5) a 4.5 sigma process — which produces 3.4 defects per million opportunities.

Notice: Sigma with a capital “S” is used above to denote the process Sigma, which is different than the typical statistical reference to sigma with a small “s” which denotes the standard deviation.

Understanding the Formula

Defects Per Million Opportunities (DPMO) = ((Total Defects) / (Total Opportunities)) * 1,000,000
Defects (%) = ((Total Defects) / (Total Opportunities)) * 100
Yield (%) = 100 – (Defects Percentage)
process Sigma = NORMSINV(1-((Total Defects) / (Total Opportunities))) + 1.5

process Sigma = 0.8406 + SQRT(29.37 – 2.221 * (ln(DPMO))).
Reference: Breyfogle, F., 1999. Implementing Six Sigma: Smarter Solutions Using Statistical Methods. 2nd ed. John Wiley & Sons.

Understanding Negative Sigma

Sigma value is simply a modified Z score (Table of the Standard Normal (z) Distribution). Sigma (with a capital “S”) is not the same thing as the standard deviation of a process, referred to as sigma (with a lower case “s” or as the greek letter s). Consequently, it is quite possible to get a negative sigma value. A negative sigma value means that most of your product or service (process) is completely outside your customer’s specification range.



Lean - management approach, word cloud concept on white background.


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