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Tips and Techniques for Statistics and Quality Improvement

Blog posts and articles about using Minitab software in quality improvement projects, research, and more.

Last week, thanks to the collective effort from many people, we held very successful events in Guadalajara and Mexico City, which gave us a unique opportunity to meet with over 300 Spanish-speaking Minitab users. They represented many different industries, including automotive, textile, pharmaceutical, medical devices, oil and gas, electronics, and mining, as well as academic institutions and... Continue Reading
Everyone who analyzes data regularly has the experience of getting a worksheet that just isn't ready to use. Previously I wrote about tools you can use to clean up and elminate clutter in your data and reorganize your data.  In this post, I'm going to highlight tools that help you get the most out of messy data by altering its characteristics. Know Your Options Many problems with data don't become... Continue Reading
College basketball season tips off today, and for the second straight season Kentucky is the #1 ranked preseason team in the AP poll. Last year Kentucky did not live up to that ranking in the regular season, going 24-10 and earning a lowly 8 seed in the NCAA tournament. But then, in the tournament, they overachieved and made a run all the way to the championship game...before losing... Continue Reading
Analysis of variance (ANOVA) is great when you want to compare the differences between group means. For example, you can use ANOVA to assess how three different alloys are related to the mean strength of a product. However, most ANOVA tests assess one response variable at a time, which can be a big problem in certain situations. Fortunately, Minitab statistical software offers a... Continue Reading
Control charts are excellent tools for looking at data points that seem unusual and for deciding whether they're worthy of investigation. If you use control charts frequently, then you're used to the idea that if certain subgroups reflect temporary abnormalities, you can leave them out when you calculate your center line and control limits. If you include points that you already know are... Continue Reading
In my last post, I wrote about making a cluttered data set easier to work with by removing unneeded columns entirely, and by displaying just those columns you want to work with now. But too much unneeded data isn't always the problem. What can you do when someone gives you data that isn't organized the way you need it to be?   That happens for a variety of reasons, but most often it's because the... Continue Reading
Isn't it great when you get a set of data and it's perfectly organized and ready for you to analyze? I love it when the people who collect the data take special care to make sure to format it consistently, arrange it correctly, and eliminate the junk, clutter, and useless information I don't need.   You've never received a data set in such perfect condition, you say? Yeah, me neither. But I can... Continue Reading
A few weeks ago my colleague Cody Steele illustrated how the same set of data can appear to support two contradictory positions. He showed how changing the scale of a graph that displays mean and median household income over time drastically alters the way it can be interpreted, even though there's no change in the data being presented. When we analyze data, we need to present the results in... Continue Reading
Users often contact Minitab technical support to ask how the software calculates the control limits on control charts. A frequently asked question is how the control limits are calculated on an I-MR Chart or Individuals Chart. If Minitab plots the upper and lower control limits (UCL and LCL) three standard deviations above and below the mean, why are the limits plotted at values other than 3 times... Continue Reading
The college football playoff committee waited until the end of October to release their first top 25 rankings. One of the reasons for waiting so far into the season was that the committee would rank the teams off of actual games and wouldn’t be influenced by preseason rankings. At least, that was the idea. Earlier this year, I found that the final AP poll was correlated with the preseason AP poll.... Continue Reading
Using a sample to estimate the properties of an entire population is common practice in statistics. For example, the mean from a random sample estimates that parameter for an entire population. In linear regression analysis, we’re used to the idea that the regression coefficients are estimates of the true parameters. However, it’s easy to forget that R-squared (R2) is also an estimate.... Continue Reading
It’s almost Halloween, so there’s lots to do. If you haven’t picked out your costume, get ideas from the National Retail Federation’s list of the most popular costumes for 2014. Last-minute candy shopping? Check out kidzworld.com’s list of the top 10 candies for Halloween. And of course, you have to plan your daily candy consumption to match the limits on free sugar recommended by the World Health... Continue Reading
by Jasmin Wong, guest blogger   Part 1 of this two-part blog post discusses the issues and challenges in injection moulding and suggests using simulation software and the statistical method called Design of Experiments (DOE) to speed development and boost quality. This part presents a case study that illustrates this approach.  Preliminary Fill and Designed Experiment This case study considers the... Continue Reading
by Jasmin Wong, guest blogger The combination of statistical methods and injection moulding simulation software gives manufacturers a powerful way to predict moulding defects and to develop a robust moulding process at the part design phase.  CAE (computer-aided engineering) is widely used in the injection moulding industry today to improve product and mould designs as well as to resolve or... Continue Reading
You need to consider many factors when you’re buying a used car. Once you narrow your choice down to a particular car model, you can get a wealth of information about individual cars on the market through the Internet. How do you navigate through it all to find the best deal?  By analyzing the data you have available.   Let's look at how this works using the Assistant in Minitab 17. With the... Continue Reading
Here's a shocking finding from the most recent ASQ Global State of Quality report: The higher you rise in your organization's leadership, the less often you receive reports about quality metrics. Only 2% of senior executives get daily quality reports, compared to 33% of front-line staff members.   A quarter of the senior executives reported getting quality metrics on a monthly basis, at least. But... Continue Reading
We like to host webinars, and our customers and prospects like to attend them. But when our webinar vendor moved from a pay-per-person pricing model to a pay-per-webinar pricing model, we wanted to find out how to maximize registrations and thereby minimize our costs. We collected webinar data on the following variables: Webinar topic Day of week Time of day – 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Newsletter promotion –... Continue Reading
I’ve written about the importance of checking your residual plots when performing linear regression analysis. If you don’t satisfy the assumptions for an analysis, you might not be able to trust the results. One of the assumptions for regression analysis is that the residuals are normally distributed. Typically, you assess this assumption using the normal probability plot of the residuals. Are... Continue Reading
I got lost a lot as a child. I got lost at malls, at museums, Christmas markets, and everywhere else you could think of. Had it been in fashion to tether children to their parents at the time, I'm sure my mother would have. As an adult, I've gotten used to using a GPS device to keep me from getting lost. The Assistant in Minitab is like your GPS for statistics. The Assistant is there to provide you... Continue Reading
Halloween's right around the corner, so here's a scary thought for the statistically minded: That pattern in your time series plot? Maybe it's just a ghost. It might not really be there at all.   That's right. The trend that seems so evident might be a phantom. Or, if you don't believe in that sort of thing, chalk it up to the brain's desire to impose order on what we see, even when it doesn't... Continue Reading