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Process Capability

Blog posts and articles about tools for assessing the capability of a process in manufacturing and service situations.

Before I joined Minitab, I worked for many years in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences as a writer and editor. I frequently wrote about food science and particularly food safety, as I regularly needed to report on the research being conducted by Penn State's food safety experts, and also edited course materials and bulletins for professionals and consumers about ensuring they had safe... Continue Reading
When data are collected in subgroups, it’s easy to understand how the variation can be calculated within each of the subgroups based the subgroup range or the subgroup standard deviation. When data is not collected in subgroups (so the subgroup size is 1), it may be a little less intuitive to understand how within-subgroup standard deviation is calculated.  How does Minitab Statistical Softwarecalcu... Continue Reading
Earlier, I wrote about the different types of data statisticians typically encounter. In this post, we're going to look at why, when given a choice in the matter, we prefer to analyze continuous data rather than categorical/attribute or discrete data.  As a reminder, when we assign something to a group or give it a name, we have created attribute or categorical data.  If we count something, like... Continue Reading
In previous posts, I discussed the results of a recycling project done by Six Sigma students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology last spring. (If you’re playing catch up, you can read Part I and Part II.) The students did an awesome job reducing the amount of recycling that was thrown into the normal trash cans across all of the institution’s academic buildings. At the end of the spring... Continue Reading
By Erwin Gijzen, Guest Blogger In my previous post, we assessed the out-of-spec level for a process with capability analysis and visualized process variability using a control chart. Our goal is to reduce variability, but when a process has a multitude of categorical and continuous variables, identifying root causes can be a huge challenge. Analyzing covariance—using the statistical technique... Continue Reading
by Erwin Gijzen, Guest Blogger People who work in quality improvement know that the root causes of quality issues are hard to find. A typical production process can contain hundreds of potential causes. Additionally, companies often produce products with multiple quality requirements, such as dimensions, surface appearance, and impact resistance. With so many variables, it’s no wonder many companies... Continue Reading
This week I'm at the American Society for Quality's World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Nashville, TN. The ASQ conference is a great opportunity to see how quality professionals are tackling problems in every industry, from beverage distribution to banking services.  Given my statistical bent, I like to see how companies apply tools like ANOVA, regression, and especially... Continue Reading
It’s usually not a good idea to rely solely on a single statistic to draw conclusions about your process. Do that, and you could fall into the clutches of the “duck-rabbit” illusion shown here: If you fix your eyes solely on the duck, you’ll miss the rabbit—and vice-versa. If you're using Minitab Statistical Software for capability analysis, the capability indices Cp and Cpk are good examples of... Continue Reading
A while back, I offered an overview of process capability analysis that emphasized the importance of matching your analysis to the distribution of your data. If you're already familiar with different types of distributions, Minitab makes it easy to identify what type of data you're working with, or to transform your data to approximate the normal distribution. But what if you're not so great with... Continue Reading
The Cp and Cpk are well known capability indices commonly used to ensure that a process spread is as small as possible compared to the tolerance interval (Cp), or that it stays well within specifications (Cpk). Yet another type of capability index exists: the Cpm, which is much less known and used less frequently. The main difference between the Cpm and the other capability indices is that the... Continue Reading
To choose the right statistical analysis, you need to know the distribution of your data. Suppose you want to assess the capability of your process. If you conduct an analysis that assumes the data follow a normal distribution when, in fact, the data are nonnormal, your results will be inaccurate. To avoid this costly error, you must determine the distribution of your data. So, how do you determine... Continue Reading
Suppose that you have designed a brand new product with many improved features that well help create a much better customer experience. Now you must ensure that it is manufactured according to the best quality and reliability standards, so that it gets the excellent long-term reputation it deserves from potential customers. You need to move quickly and seamlessly from Research and Development into... Continue Reading
I left off last with a post outlining how the Six Sigma students at Rose-Hulman were working on a project to reduce the amount of recycling thrown in the normal trash cans in all of the academic buildings at the institution. Using the DMAIC methodology for completing improvement projects, they had already defined the problem at hand: how could the amount of recycling that’s thrown in the normal trash... Continue Reading
As someone who has collected and analyzed real data for a living, the idea of using simulated data for a Monte Carlo simulation sounds a bit odd. How can you improve a real product with simulated data? In this post, I’ll help you understand the methods behind Monte Carlo simulation and walk you through a simulation example using Devize. What is Devize, you ask? Devize is Minitab's exciting new,... Continue Reading
Sure, Minitab Statistical Software is powerful and easy to use, but did you know that it’s also magic? One of the illusions that Minitab can perform is the world famous disappearing-reappearing-analysis-settings act. Of course, as with many illusions, it’s not so hard once you know the trick. In this case, it’s downright easy once you know about Minitab project files. If you’ve done any work in... Continue Reading
Suppose that you plan to source a substantial amount of parts or subcomponents from a new supplier. To ensure that their quality level is acceptable to you, you might want to assess the capability levels (Ppk and Cpk indices) of their manufacturing processes and check whether their critical process parameters are fully under control (using control charts). If you are not sure about the efficiency... Continue Reading
In quality initiatives such as Six Sigma, practitioners often need to assess the capability of a process to make sure it can meet specifications, or to verify that it produces good parts. While many Minitab users are familiar with the capability analysis tools in the Stat menu and in Minitab’s Assistant, the Assistant includes a less-frequently used feature—the Capability Snapshot. What Is the... Continue Reading
There is more than just the p value in a probability plot—the overall graphical pattern also provides a great deal of useful information. Probability plots are a powerful tool to better understand your data. In this post, I intend to present the main principles of probability plots and focus on their visual interpretation using some real data. In probability plots, the data density distribution... Continue Reading
In an earlier post, I shared some great hidden helpers in Minitab Statistical Software that even many veteran users don't know about. Here are a few more! Everything In Its Right Place Minitab’s Project Manager allows you to navigate, view, and manipulate various parts of your project. Right-clicking either the folders or their contents lets you access a variety of menus that allow you to manage... Continue Reading
Remember "The Little Engine That Could," the children's story about self-confidence in the face of huge challenges? In it, a train engine keeps telling itself "I think I can" while carrying a very heavy load up a big mountain. Next thing you know, the little engine has done it...but until that moment, the outcome was uncertain. It's a wonderful story for teaching kids about self-confidence. But... Continue Reading