Spectral Systems Applies DMAIC Strategy to Improve Processes


  • Retained Sales of $250,000/year
    • Previously at risk of losing a good customer if improvements were not made quickly – likely sales will increase as a result.
  • On Time Delivery
    • Between March 2017 and August 2017, from 50% to 100%
  • Decrease Internal Rejection Rate
    • Before coating, from 4-week average of 16 per week, to 3 per week with most weeks at 0.
    • After coating, from a 4-week average of 3 per week, to 0 per week.


Spectral Systems, located in Hopewell Junction, NY, was founded over 30 years ago by Frank Wesley. The company began making specialized optics for infrared applications focusing mostly on polishing services. Today the company is a leader in precise infrared optical components, coatings, systems integration and services. Spectral Systems has a strong commitment to their customers, with the long-held belief, “we succeed when your customers succeed”.


In June 2016, Spectral Systems began struggling with high rejection rates on their Germanium product line. These were due to an unknown contamination that resulted in staining of their product. The high rejection rates caused by the stained products was impacting their ability to meet delivery times. By the fall of 2016 the contamination had only gotten worse and the staining became more noticeable after coating. To rework after coating, added 50% to their production labor cost. Because of Spectral System’s dedication to high quality and consistency for their customers, they knew this problem needed to be solved.


Phil van Oss worked closely with the team at Spectral Systems to implement a data driven, quality strategy. The DMAIC cycle stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. It is a logical and structured approach that is used to drive six sigma projects.

Spectral Systems knew their problem began with the Germanium contamination, and they also knew that it was affecting their ability to produce quality product on time. Defining their problem was simple. However, when their team began to measure the problem, they were faced with the challenge of identifying the true sources of variation. This way they would be able to eliminate the real, root cause of their problem.  Beyond this, their system of measuring the Germanium contamination was not reliable as they did not have a standard procedure in place. Spectral needed to update their procedure in order to eliminate production problems and ensure consistent production going forward. A new procedure was written and formalized for their team to follow.

This strategy effectively improved their current processes while working to create a system where continuous improvements are possible for the future.