ACE vs. Six Sigma

Keywords ACE vs. Six Sigma ACE Quality Operating Systems
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Taking into account both quality assessment and quality assurance, many attempts have been made over the years by companies and organizations at developing, deploying, and implementing a sustaining quality management system. There are two quality management systems that this paper will focus on and evaluate. They are Six Sigma, which was originally developed by Motorola in the mid 1980’s and later made popular through its adoption by General Electric and Allied Signal (now Honeywell). The second is Achieving Competitive Excellence or ACE that was developed in the 1990’s by United Technology Corporation and is used today throughout that company.

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In the early 1980’s and 1990’s, companies began to build upon the principles of Total Quality Management and developed there own unique quality systems. The most popular and well known of these systems is Six Sigma that was developed by Motorola and successfully adopted by others such as Allied Signal (now Honeywell) and most notably, General Electric. Six Sigma
can be characterized as a highly formalized, process oriented improvement tool that is data focused. The Six Sigma process is normally performed by a diverse team, who attack a quality/process problem by analyzing process variation or in statistical terms, sigma. The foundations of Six Sigma are commitment from upper management, detailed training and a
regimented diagnostic approach. Another quality operating system is the less known, but very successful, Achieving Competitive
Excellence (ACE) operating system. This system was developed and is practiced by United Technologies Corporation (UTC). The ACE system is broader based than the Six-Sigma approach, however, ACE is not as data oriented as the Six Sigma approach. ACE revolves around the three principle categories of process improvement and waste elimination tools, decision-making tools, and problem solving tools. These tools impact issues as diverse, but not limited to, factory floor cleanliness, market feedback analysis, machine tool preventative maintenance and set up reduction. ACE is a combination of lean manufacturing and quality
improvement philosophies. This paper provides an analysis of both the Six Sigma and ACE Quality Operating Systems. In the paper the systems are compared and contrasted. Further, strengths and weaknesses of each system are discussed.

In particular, the analysis focuses on how ACE can leverage elements and aspects of Six Sigma. The analysis concludes that there are elements of Six Sigma that would benefit ACE. The paper identifies that the strength of Six Sigma’s statistical approach and its positive impact on process certification could be beneficially applied to the ACE system. Further, there are recommendations for UTC to place more of an emphasis on ACE training and to
accelerate its current efforts to better link quality and lean improvement to product engineering and design.

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