Madhu Ranadive, president of Davisville Toy Company, Inc., in Stratford, Ontario, has just reviewed the design of a new pull-toy locomotive for 1- to 3-year-olds. Madhu’s design and marketing staff are very enthusiastic about the market for the product and the potential of follow-on circus train cars. Madhu’s production people have worked out the manufacturing issues and produced a successful pilot run. However, the quality testing staff suggests that under certain conditions, a hook to attach cars to the locomotive and the crank for the bell can be broken off. This is an issue because children can choke on the small parts. In the quality test, 1to 3-year-olds were unable to break off these parts and there were no failures. But when the test simulated the force of an adult tossing the locomotive into a toy box or a 5-year-old throwing it on the floor, there were failures. The estimate is that one of the two parts can be broken off four times out of 100 000 throws. Neither the design nor the material people know how to make the toy safer and still perform as designed. The failure rate is low and certainly normal for this type of toy, but not at the Six Sigma level for which Madhu’s firm strives for. And, of course, someone, someday may sue. A child choking on the broken part is a serious matter.

The design of successful, ethically produced, new products, as suggested in this chapter, is a complex task. What should Madhu do?


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