Development of an effective six sigma implementation model for apparel industry in China

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Development of an effective six sigma implementation model for apparel industry in China


Author: Lee, Tak Yiu
Title: Development of an effective six sigma implementation model for apparel industry in China
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2016
Subject: Six sigma (Quality control standard)
Textile industry -- China -- Management.
Clothing trade -- China -- Management.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Institute of Textiles and Clothing
Pages: xi, 234 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: The 1970s to 1990s mark the rapid development of various quality tools and techniques. These revolutionary quality development helps enterprises from all sectors enhance their operational efficiency and quality standard. In the meanwhile, the improved product and service performance leads to better fulfillment in customers' ever-increasing quality expectation and requirements. Among these quality tools and techniques, Six Sigma gradually becomes a popular quality management approach in most manufacturing sectors. Six Sigma is both a business strategy and a systematic quality management methodology that was first introduced at Motorola in 1987. The purpose of Six Sigma is to reduce cost by minimizing the variability in the processes (Näslund, 2008), with the aim to reduce the number of defects to as low as 3.4 parts per million opportunities (Antony and Banuelas, 2002). The organizations that have adopted Six Sigma declare that Six Sigma helps focus on increasing the wealth of the shareholders by improving bottom-line results and achieving high quality products and services (Saadat and Antony, 2007). More importantly, it helps improve the process by eliminating root causes, and controlling the process to make sure defects do not reappear (Pyzdek and Keller, 2003). Since Motorola introduced Six Sigma, other companies such as Texas Instruments, Allied Signal (or Honeywell today), General Electric, Sony, Fuji Xerox, etc. have claimed great savings as a result of the implementation of Six Sigma projects. The application of Six Sigma in fast-clock speed industries (Fine, 1998), such as electronics and fashion industries, are particularly important. These fast-clock speed industries have quick design generation, wide variety of styles in small quantity and labor-intensive production environment, and thus benefit most from quality improvement initiatives. This explains why Six Sigma has started to penetrate in textile and apparel industry in the past decade.
Apparel manufacturers in China are also showing growing trend of making higher value products with new technologies. This trend is particularly important when the manufactures in China are facing fierce competition in the lower-end market from the ASEAN countries (e.g. Vietnam, Bangladesh). Thus, an effective Six Sigma implementation can help China factories in apparel supply chain maintain their competitive advantage over their respective competitors. Based on a set of traditional critical factors for successful Six Sigma implementation, this study investigates how the identified Six Sigma implementation elements (3 major elements) and factors (11 critical success factors) affect the major anticipated favorite outcomes (4 desired implementation outcomes) of Six Sigma. According to the data collected from the apparel industry in developing county (i.e., China), being a research context that was uncovered in the literature, it is found that top management's intention and commitment have significant positive impact on continuous improvement, customer and employee satisfaction upon Six Sigma implementation. Another implementation element - organizational ability in adopting Six Sigma approach is the most critical aspect for the whole process. It is because it affects all the outcomes of Six Sigma implementation, such as cost and efficiency, and product and service quality. It is also found in this study that top management ability in Six Sigma is not as important as their intention and commitment. It is noticed that their ability have no influence on all outcomes. As a result it may suggest that the findings of this study are also applicable to most fast-clock speed industries, which share similar characteristics as the apparel supply chain. This research of the implementation elements and critical success factors for effective implementation of Six Sigma approach for apparel industry not only could provide managerial implications for other apparel manufacturers, but also other manufacturers in fast-clock speed industries. The implementation model therefore established for Six Sigma approach is useful in providing guidance for its effective implementation for fast fashion business model of both manufacturing and servicing industry in the future.

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