PARKERSBURG, W.VA. - Polymerland Inc. President Bob Bedilion says his firm was in the planning stages of adopting a six sigma'' quality program when Jack Welch stepped in. Welch, chairman of Polymerland's parent, General Electric Corp., announced in December that he expected all of GE's business units to adopt six sigma quality programs by 2000.
Welch's edict gave Polymerland's plans the resources of GE to draw upon, and now the resin distributor and compounder is putting its program into place.
Sigma, or standard deviation, designates the number of defects or deviations allowed per million parts. The higher the Sigma, the fewer defects allowed.
Six sigma signifies three defective parts per million, a level considered to be the highest quality standard. Five sigma signifies 10 defective parts per million.
Welch's announcement was the best thing that ever happened to us,'' Bedilion said in an interview Aug. 5 at his office in Parkersburg.
Polymerland - which recently relocated its headquarters from Par- kersburg to Hunt- ersville, N.C. - is adopting six-sigma procedures in three of the company's primary areas:
The entire process that occurs between the time an order is taken to getting that order delivered to the customer.
Commercial productivity, which Bedilion defined as the process of putting highly skilled and trained people into contact with customers.
The development of products and services and their introduction to the market based on customer needs.
Some areas of the company have advanced quickly in adopting the new program, but can do better, he said.
For example: Bedilion said Polymerland's shipping performance is operating at a level of 95 percent accuracy, a level of 3.1 sigma, which he described as mediocre.
Meanwhile, the company's billing operations are performing at a 99.7 percent accuracy level, which indicates a 4.2 sigma performance.