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Process Improvement

Blog posts and articles about the use of data analysis and statistics to improve processes in business and industry.

  The NFL recently announced that after scoring a touchdown, teams will be required to kick the extra point from the 15 yard line as opposed to the 2 yard line. This is a pretty big change. And whether you’re trying to improve the quality of your process, or simply trying to make a sporting event more exciting, it’s always good to know what kind of effects your change will have. So I’m going to use... 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
Before cutting an expensive piece of granite for a countertop, a good carpenter will first confirm he has measured correctly. Acting on faulty measurements could be costly. While no measurement system is perfect, we rely on such systems to quantify data that help us control quality and monitor changes in critical processes. So, how do you know whether the changes you see are valid and not just the... Continue Reading
Did you ever show up to your hotel room at the end of a long day of traveling and find the covers turned down with chocolates on the bed? When something's ready for you to use right when you're ready to use it, it's a good thing. If you’ve never changed any options in Minitab, then the session window and data window always open the same way. The session window covers the top half of the project... Continue Reading
Generally speaking, I have a problem with authority. I don’t like being told what to do or how to do it. I’m not proud of that. I recall debating with my High School Trigonometry teacher regarding the value of the homework “process.” Specifically, in those situations where the student in question did not require practice to get an A. And, if said student was getting a 98% on the exams, why spend... 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 2016 presidential race is becoming more real. We’ve had several announcements with Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Hillary Clinton, and Marco Rubio officially entering the race to be President. While the prospective Democratic candidates are down to one, or at most a few, the Republican field is extra-large this election cycle. The first order of business for a GOP candidate is to survive the nomination... 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
In my previous post, I showed you how to set up data collection for a gage R&R analysis using the Assistant in Minitab 17. In this case, the goal of the gage R&R study is to test whether a new tool provides an effective metric for assessing resident supervision in a medical facility.   As noted in that post, I'm drawing on one of my favorite bloggers about health care quality, David Kashmer of the... Continue Reading
One of my favorite bloggers about the application of statistics in health care is David Kashmer, an MD and MBA who runs and writes for the Business Model Innovation in Surgery blog. If you have an interest in how quality improvement methods like Lean and Six Sigma can be applied to healthcare, check it out.  A while back, Dr. Kashmer penned a column called "How to Measure a Process When There's... Continue Reading
In part 1 of this post, I covered how Six Sigma students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology cleaned up and prepared project data for a regression analysis. Now we're ready to start our analysis. We’ll detail the steps in that process and what we can learn from our results. What Factors Are Important? We collected data about 11 factors we believe could be significant: Whether the date of... Continue Reading
By Peter Olejnik, guest blogger. Previous posts on the Minitab Blog have discussed the work of the Six Sigma students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to reduce the quantities of recyclables that wind up in the trash. Led by Dr. Diane Evans, these students continue to make an important impact on their community. As with any Six Sigma process, the results of the work need to be evaluated. A... 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
I typically attend a few Lean Six Sigma conferences each year, and at each there is at least one session about compensating belts. Any number of ideas exist out there, but they commonly include systems that provide a percentage of savings as a portion of pay or provide a bonus for meeting target project savings. There are always issues with these pay schemes, including the fact that... 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
In my recent meetings with people from various companies in the service industries, I realized that one of the problems they face is that they were collecting large amounts of "qualitative" data: types of product, customer profiles, different subsidiaries, several customer requirements, etc. As I discussed in my previous post, one way to look at qualitative data is to use different types of... Continue Reading
In several previous blogs, I have discussed the use of statistics for quality improvement in the service sector. Understandably, services account for a very large part of the economy. Lately, when meeting with several people from financial companies, I realized that one of the problems they faced was that they were collecting large amounts of "qualitative" data: types of product, customer... Continue Reading